As part of a Ryan White Part D supplemental grant, the Bijou Project (not yet released), is an online educational tool designed to assist HIV-positive young men of color (ages 16 – 24) in their long-term health and HIV management, with the goal of sustained viral suppression. Bijou was designed as a collaboration between researchers at UNC and Impact Marketing + Communications.

“Bijou” is a french word that means jewel. It is precious and valuable and worth the work to maintain its beauty, as is the health of the person coming to Bijou with the intent to learn to manage the disease. Your health is precious, and so are you.

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Bijou has 6 health and wellness-related sessions that the user completes to advance to the next stage. Each of these sessions is represented by a jewel tone and a session designator, and it helps the user know where he is in the program and how far he needs to go.

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From the name to the tone to the aesthetic, Bijou doesn’t appear to be HIV related at all. This is to reflect a holistic approach to wellness and the current progression that’s been made to keep HIV a manageable condition. The appearance of this space veers from the traditional; there’s no doom and gloom and no red ribbons. Living with the diagnosis can be scary, and we address that. But you can live a long and healthy life with HIV if you are empowered to take control of your health, and we want to show that too.

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UNC and Impact collaborated to introduce interactive and game elements into the system to entice users to finish the program. In addition to chat rooms, forums, and video Q&As, another way we accomplished this was through an avatar progression system. As the user progresses through the system and earns points, his chosen avatar changes from a simple geometric gem shape to one of greater depth and color. As users interact with each other, they can see how far along they are in the program by their avatar, and provide encouragement to each other to keep going.

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I will be speaking about this project at the Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment August 23 – 26, 2016. Some of the topics I’ll cover are following trends in commercial web design, game design, and product branding to reach people where they are, and how to find stock photography that is genuine when photoshoots aren’t an option (due to privacy and other concerns).

Name creation and branding, logo and avatar design, website creative direction and wireframing. 2016-2017.