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In Bloom

a digital scrapbook to explore gender identity

MY ROLE

Design Research & Synthesis

Needfinding
Ideation
Wireframing
Prototyping

Usability Testing

THE DURATION

Fall, 2020 (14 weeks)

THE INSTRUCTOR

THE FUEL

Curiosity & 🥑

THE CHALLENGE

 

THE SOLUTION

How might we normalize the exploration of gender identity for middle schoolers, while using linguistic and artistic self-expression tools?

In Bloom is a digital scrapbook and journal to log your gender identity development. Fit for middle schoolers, it contextualizes gender beyond the socially constructed theories and helps you explore the concept by providing correct resources.

THE CONTEXT

I witnessed the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in 2020. The movement was soon rephrased as "Queer, Trans, BIPOC Lives Matter" too. Now even though I was very aware of the terms, I still did not understand the importance of correct pronouns, differences between two terms, and the importance of not using them interchangeably. It took me a semester's worth of work to understand the LGBTQIA+ community and its hidden nuances.

The gender identification journey can take a toll on an adult's mental health, I cannot begin to imagine what it is like for children aged between 10-13 years. So I designed to ease this journey and to welcome questions around gender more freely.

“In all my years of research, I have come to realize that there are as many genders as there are people.” ​

Davis Masten (Chairman, Quantified Self Labs)

THE SOLUTION

 

Storyboard

Find out what happens when our persona, Jenny, is overwhelmed with questions around gender identity.

Music courtesy of Adobe Stock, Watergate and Emotional

Bloom where

you're planted

An app to take make a note of your everyday thoughts and feelings while you are on the gender exploration journey.

Unique identity badge

No name, gender, sexuality or other identifiers. Based on the answers to the non-binary questions, a unique shape is created which becomes the only proof of who you are.

Customized

resources

The app stores information of your activity and provides helpful reading and watching material in return.

Building

vocabulary

New words are being added everyday for the LGBTQIA+ community. This feature keeps you informed about the new additions and also lets you build your own words to add to the list. 

DESIGN PRINCIPLES

ANONYMITY

Identifying information is withheld and never disclosed.

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PERSONALIZATION

Embark on this journey with help from features that can be set to your liking.

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ADAPTABILITY

The system reads and stores your data ONLY to improve your experience on the app.

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PRIVACY

The system's privacy is always intact and the information shared is for your eyes only.

SUCCESS METRIC

For a product like In Bloom, the success metric is subjective. But it is essential to measure the engagement with the app through

  • Activities attempted

  • Resources (articles and videos) browsed

  • New words added

The insights gained can further help with creating a far-reaching impact.

 

THE PROCESS

MY PROCESS FOR GENDER IDENTITY EXPLORATION

My process with respect to this project was to deeply study each stakeholder's contribution to the life of a non-binary or gender-fluid person

RESEARCH PLAN

INTERVIEWS:

Middle schoolers
High schoolers
Parents or Guardians
Educators

Child Psychologists

Healthcare worker

Authors
 

^ All interviews were on the subject of gender exploration, identification, dysphoria, a stigma that one might have felt or seen somebody feeling it closely

ACTIVITIES:

Stakeholder mapping
Waveline
Design prompts

Social media tasks

Sacrificial concepts

Reaction prompts

Knowledge sharing

Persona mapping


 

SECONDARY:

External websites

Books

Movies

Sitcoms

Social Media profiles

Newspaper articles Research papers

TOOLS:

Trello
Slack and Zoom
Google Suite
Mural and Miro
Pen and paper

INTERVIEWS

“As a white, queer, cisgender, female I want to uplift everyone in the community so that everybody is able to live and love freely.”

“It makes me so mad when people say queer is just a millennial term.”

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“My principal told me that the rainbow with clouds on a poster was an instigating symbolism.”

“What is there to not believe? Will you doubt me   if I say I am taking an art class and not science?”

My wonderful interviewees who shared their deeply personal stories

ACTIVITIES

Wavelines of my interviewees each serving an indication of their personality; find the index of data visualization here

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SECONDARY RESEARCH

Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble

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A survey circulated on Reddit showing some of the above stats

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The font 'Gilbert' is named after Gilbert Baker, a prominent LGBTQIA+ activist and artist who was also the maker of the rainbow flag

Up unitl the 1990s, there weren't enough gay characters shown in the movies who could become young generations' idols

Social media platforms like are widely used to raise questions on society's outlook toward gender and sexuality

SYNTHESIS & INSIGHTS

I debriefed my interviews and found common themes to further dig into insights

I found close to 35 insights so I narrowed them down to a few key ones which were actionable

Gender is a social construct that does not allow it to be a spectrum and hence, exploration with one’s identity can feel like playing ‘dress up’.

"Most children know by the age of three about how they want to be identified gender-wise."

                                              -Interviewee 🍄

Our self-identity is guided by both internal and external factors; validation of both being important. Hence, improper use of language is considered a blow to one’s existence.

According to Butler's theory, gender is essentially a performative repetition of acts associated with male or female.

Each caregiving network’s experience along with the journey of a queer member is unique and a supportive network does not guarantee less struggle.

"Much of my wanting to grow my hair long came from my dad. I had very supportive parents. But I was still confused for a very long time."

                                    —Interviewee 🐼

A reputed education system does not equal good management of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ issues which then leads to bullying in the most advanced economies.

“I studied in one of the countries most popular for its education system.”
                                  —Interviewee
🌻

THE OPPORTUNITY

How might we normalize the exploration of gender identity for middle schoolers, while using linguistic and artistic self-expression tools?

Few values that are at the center of In Bloom

WIREFRAMES

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The illustrations are a combination of what my long fingers could draw, Pablo Stanley and Trans Army;

if it was not for the strict timelines I would hand draw each frame, like I usually do

VISUAL DESIGN

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ACTIVE

Skip

PASSIVE

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ICONOGRAPHY

NHG

NHG

NHG

NEUE HAAS GROTESK

ROMAN    MEDIUM    BOLD

11

 

 

15

 

 

20

 

 

30

USABILITY TESTING

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ROUND 1

  • The color palette is a reminder of something soothing and artistic

  • The vocabulary feature is exciting but adding a new word doesn't look easy

  • How does community work?

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ROUND 2

  • The color palette makes it look like a meditation app

  • Trending news besides the articles/videos is unnecessary

  • Rethink the term 'community'

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ROUND 3

  • What big questions is the app addressing?

  • Can a similar need be recognized in other parts of the world?

  • Why is social media the biggest platform for 'coming out'?

NEXT STEPS

My design struggle for this product has been the tone of its content. Language plays a pivotal role here since the app hopes to attract inclusivity and diversity. The writing needs special assistance by UX writers or in this case, a cognitive psychologist. Getting help from one such person would be the immediate next step.

TAKEAWAY

What worked?

 

This project strikes home. Little did I know that my research would yield sensitive first-hand information and that people are willing to share their stories to create a greater good. I found my research participants in the strangest ways so do not underestimate the power of finding resources at absurd times and places. The rich conversations are the only reason that I was able to ideate and execute In Bloom.

What could change?

I recently took a trauma care workshop in grad school which if taken earlier could have prepared me better for what was to come. It is essential to follow some guidelines when research conversations have vulnerable subjects. I am now more equipped than before to engage in a similar conversation.