Date: 2016 – 2017
Client: Impact Marketing + Communications/University of North Carolina
Work: Branding, website design, creative direction, UX
The Bijou Project is an online educational tool designed to assist HIV-positive young men of color (LGBTQ+, age 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 University of North Carolina and Impact Marketing + Communications as part of a Ryan White Part D supplemental grant.
When UNC approached our consultancy to help design and develop a health-management app for this vulnerable audience, we felt it important to create an experience that was comforting, affirming, and empowering.
Through extensive dialogue with the medical staff on the UNC team and a select group of anonymous target users, we identified a need to reflect digital spaces that were familiar to this young audience while addressing their unique needs of HIV-related care and wellness.
We took visual and naming cues from the most popular mobile apps among this group: Lyft, Grindr, Snapchat, and others. We assessed the common qualities of these brands (enigmatic brand metaphors, color, language and tone) to guide our way toward creating a product that would feel familiar and safe.
The scope also involved a gaming component; how could we use game structure, combined with educational content, to make users want to learn and complete the program?
From the appearance to the interaction to the completion, we wanted Bijou to look completely different from how HIV is historically treated (no red ribbons). This is to reflect a holistic, wellness-first approach, focusing on HIV as a manageable condition. Living with the diagnosis can be difficult, and the content addresses that with candor. But being positively empowered to take control of our health saves lives, and we wanted to amplify that.
Concept + Brand Metaphor
We settled on a brand name that reflects these qualities we identified (punchy, vibrant, enigmatic): Bijou.
Bijou is French for little jewel. Like health, it is precious, valuable, and worth the care to maintain its beauty. Your health is precious, and so are you.
Logo Exploration & Final Mark
Brand Book Sample
User Journey + Brand Environment
Bijou has 6 health and wellness-related sessions. Starting with Session 1, the user engages with the content of each session and performs an activity to advance to the next.
Each of these sessions is represented by a jewel tone and a session designator, and it helps the user know where they are in the program and how far they need to go to complete the program.
Each Session includes Medium-type conversational articles about the session topic (written by UNC medical staff), in addition to a variety of short “Ask Dr. Lisa” videos. In these clips, Dr. Lisa B. Hightow-Weidman, MD answers common questions — both FAQs and user-submitted — addressing everything from diagnosis to nutrition, mental health to enjoyable safer sex, in a candid, conversational way.
After each Session, the user reflects and integrates the content via a variety of activities (like journal entries, word matching, quizzes, etc) to earn a completion score, gain points, and progress to the next Session. At the end of the program they receive a Certificate of Completion signed by Dr. Lisa and her supporting staff.
Gamification + Community Building
Semi-collaborative gaming elements were introduced into the system to entice users to finish the program while establishing a community among themselves. In addition to chat rooms, forums, and video Q&As, we also incorporated evolving user avatars. As the user progresses through the system and earns points, their 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. This also ties back into the brand as a visual representation of growing health through learning and participation.
Preliminary Review & Afterword
Bijou was released for a trial launch in early spring of 2016. User feedback indicated the majority of users (nearly all) found it easy to use and engaging. 3/4 of them reported they would complete the full 6-week program if offered.
Additional funding was being sought for further iteration as of summer 2016.
I spoke about this project at the 2016 Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment. Some of the topics I covered included reflecting commercial-sector trends to create familiarity in the public-sector space, using game design to encourage engagement, product branding that reaches people where they are, plus practical issues like how to find stock photography that is genuine when photoshoots aren’t an option (due to privacy and other concerns).