ARA — birth control experiences and packaging
ARA is a hybrid project of industrial design and UX exploring an alternative perspective and use of the contemporary birth control pill. From research to execution, this project focuses on designing a product that harmonizes function and emotion to tell its story.
Contraceptives have led to extraordinary changes in the US and worldwide, however, contraceptive culture is still surrounded by a lack of education, accessibility, and conversation.
There is still a need for tackling the frustrations and discomforts of non-routine activities while taking the pill.
Design a product and service around social discomfort and self-awareness— engaging a way to pave more educated and accessible culture around contraceptives.
There exists multiple tiers of macro factors to micro factors that are influenced by women's foundational health.
Ultimately, by supporting factors that exist at the individual and relationship level, we can improve the experience of taking contraceptives and the methods they may be delivered, used, or perceived.
I conducted three main different forms of research which allowed me to gather a large breadth of information and understanding around young women who use the oral pill. (Ages 20-25).
1 In-Person Interview
The initial interview allowed me to grasp the breadth of contraceptives in human experiences more. This lasted approximately 30 minutes.
6 Research Probes
Afterwards, I scoped my questions to create a research probe focused on task experiences and relationships for individuals to complete.
1 Packaging Analysis
I analyzed the physical birth control packaging used by two participants to understand specific details regarding use.
Relationships & Community:
The women interviewed had a wide variety of communities and support systems they felt comfortable going to. In some cases, doctors, in other cases, friend groups.
But for emergencies, participants frequently checked the internet and online communities for advice.
The greatest common perspective was the feeling of having 'everything out and exposed' when needing to take a pill. The explicit design of the packaging and pill, while helpful, made users uncomfortable.
This particular pill case was flatly designed and could consistently hide itself in areas around users, allowing them to quickly forget about the pill when lost.
Oral contraceptives are taken in routine and relies on the consistency of these daily activities. While this is helpful during the daily routine, a common anxiety comes when the daily ritual changes.
Remembering to take a contraceptive pill in unexpected times and environments can cause anxiety, embarrassment, and a missed pill— risking health and pregnancy.
Persona and Story
In total, the final design consists of two main components:
the pill dispenser, and the app.
By taking in the individual's use of the pill via their dispenser, the app can adjust and deliver personalized information and advice otherwise difficult to find.
The pill dispenser is the daily entry point for every user.
Compared to current packages, this dispenser is intended to be kept for long periods of time, while users refill it through cartridges at their pharmacy. Instead of being a disposable pill package, this dispenser aims to have presence in its form give users a feeling ownership.
The app is where your information is stored and personalized.
The app takes in the time of use of the ARA dispenser, and saves it to gather data about individual users and their use of the pill and period. Doing so allows them to check their usage over time when needed, and get personalized directions within their own pill-use context.