Academic Case Study — July 2022 – September 2022
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as they attract a younger target audience, who are more prone to risking-taking behaviours. EDM events especially have a popular culture of drug usage, and have been increasing in popularity in the last couple of years.
Diving deeper into the issue
There is variance in culture and community depending on the specific event, as they each curate a specific type of crowd. Certain events have successfully nurtured communities where people are more inclined to look out for others, while others may increasingly attract attendees displaying risky, and violent behaviour.
EDME attendees typically come in groups. Because they are often on substances that reduce their ability to think and behave in a rational manner, it is important for them to stick together and take care of each other. Due to the large nature of crowds, event staff are not able to monitor the well-being of every attendee, and rely on their friends or bystanders, on behalf of the attendee in need, to signal to staff for help.
Especially evident among first-timers, EDME attendees commonly exhibit risky drug usage behaviour at these events due to a lack of knowledge, experience and accessibility to drug checking services. Attendees who had not previously used on-site medical services are often not aware of what resources are available to them, and are hesitant to seek medical help for fear of judgement or legal consequences.
An embodiment of shared goals, painpoints and behaviours gleaned from my interviews
Following Kevin and his eventful night at an EDM event, to gauge any possible areas of opportunity for a solution
To aid in ideation for features my user would want, 30 user stories were created and grouped into categories, or "epics". This is the key epic I chose to work off on.
Chosen MVP Feature
Initial Task Flow
Low Fidelity Wireframes
3 rounds of user testing were conducted over Zoom as well as in person, with a total of 13 user testers.
Due to difficulty understanding technical terms and jargon, users were not able to understand parts of the process, as well as some of the data displayed in the results
Users had a false sense of security of the safety of their drug after seeing what they perceived to be a low amount of toxicity found in drugs that shared the same characteristics as theirs
User Testing—Round 2
A lack of knowledge of what drug-checking is greatly impacts their understanding of the app, perhaps an onboarding process is required.
The statistics shown in the results are confusing, and users don't immediately know how to digest that information.
User Testing—Round 3
Users do not expect there to be any additional information under the drug warnings
Brand and Icon Exploration
Having finalized my mid-fidelity prototype, it was time to inject some storytelling into the product!
To advertise Vare's services, a marketing site was also created.
Drug-checking alerts provided by organizations across Canada are all centralized in one app, displayed in the same comprehensive format, and rephrased to use everyday language. These alerts warn users of toxic drugs that may be circulating in their area. For our target audience–who may not be inclined to expend much effort to increase their physical safety–this is an effective, convenient alternative that increases the chances of users avoiding substances that have a high risk of overdose.
By taking a photo of one’s drug, Vare identifies its characteristics and only shows users alerts for drugs that may be a match with theirs, so that they can quickly find what they’re looking for.
In the event that the toxic drug is ingested, Vare teaches users to recognize symptoms in their friends earlier, so that they can seek help proactively. The app also provides emergency advice and tips for users to act upon while they await medical attention, as the volatility of an EDME environment could delay the service they need. Icons and summarized points are used so that the information presented is easily digestible.
To be 100% sure of the safety of their drug, Vare provides a call-to-action for users to seek out drug-checking services near them, a resource they may not have been aware of. It also reduces the obscurity and stigma against these services by providing information on how they work, and using non-judgemental language throughout. By encouraging users to take advantage of this service, the risk they take using substances at EDM events decreases greatly.
There may be potential to expand my target audience. I’d love to explore how harm-reduction can be accessible for a greater range of people who are in need of this service.
When you've been nose-deep in this project for weeks, it's easy to lose sight of what's in front of you. I found it immensely helpful to get fresh eyes on my project throughout, to be able to take a step back and view your solution from other fresh perspectives to see how you can improve.
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