Delivering medication from Parisian pharmacies to your home

Everyone knows the feeling of being too sick to leave your home. It’s an inconvenience: to your work, your plans, your life. Sometimes you feel too horrible to so much as get out of bed, let alone try to get anything done. But it’s not like it was your fault, your decision. These things happen to the best of us. Sometimes we have extra pain medication or antibiotics laying around to self-treat. Sometimes, we don’t. And by the time we realise that we are probably going to want to take something, we already feel too drained to want to go out and get it. If we’re lucky there might be someone available to bring it to us. But it would be really nice if an application could do the same thing.

​My Pharmacy & Me was designed to be a kind of “Uber for pharmacies”, allowing users to remain at home and have their desired medication brought direct to their door.

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Everyone Visits Pharmacies Sometimes

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Pharmacies are exceedingly abundant in France, with approximately 41 pharmacies to every 100.000 people in Paris alone. So to begin the research phase of the project, my team and I first set out to the streets of Paris to conduct interviews with pharmacy-goers, then perform a competitor’s analysis.

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Online pharmaceutical competition

We chose for our competitive analysis l’Herboristerie de Paris (an online homeopathy store), Parapharmacie Anglaise (focused on selling parapharmacie products near Champs-Elysées), Monoprix and amazon.fr, where you can buy a wide range of general products including pharmacy and beauty products. We arranged them on the axes in terms of professional advice provided, and the length of the entire process (from leaving your home to purchase to returning home, or time taken for an order to arrive). What we wanted from our solution was both: fast process and professional advice.

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​Synthesising user data into a primary persona​​

Chloé was constructed to embody our main discoveries about pharmacy users. We found we had enough data to potentially create secondary personas, but within the scope of this project, if Chloé’s needs were met, then all other users’ needs would also be met. We wanted Chloé to effectively communicate the three main user painpoints from our research:

  1. Users did not want to leave their home or their bed when sick.
  2. Users would choose to go to either the closest or the most familiar pharmacy.
  3. Users avoided buying medication online primarily due to the lack of professional advice.
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How might we help Chloé to get the medication she needs quickly without having to get out of bed?

Ideating a solution for Chloé

As a group we tried a couple of techniques to brainstorm and come together with a solution we could all agree on was best for our users. Throwing out every crazy idea imaginable from having pharmaceuticals delivered by pigeon to having a sick room installed in your office. But we eventually came up with a concept we thought could actually be plausible. Our idea was a delivery system which relies on two sets of users — our persona, Chloé, who is sick in bed and needs to order some medicine, and a deliverer who receives notification when someone nearby wants medication from a nearby pharmacy. 

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Ideation sessions included techniques called Round Robin, Crazy 8s and Worst Idea

Beginning the prototyping process

User Flow

The user flow was designed prior to the prototype for the purpose of visualising the user’s goals, and what screens needed to be designed so that the user could attain those goals. Designing and visualising in this way allowed for us to see if there were any steps in the process which we were potentially forgetting before we moved on to low-fidelity prototyping.

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Paper prototype and testing

For the early prototypes, we used the classic pen and paper to have an idea of how the screens would ultimately be laid out. We began with preliminary sketches, then launched straight into our low-fidelity paper prototype, ready for testing on potential users.

Tests showed a little bit of confusion in terms of product availability and information hierarchy, but we were ready to iterate and improve on the high fidelity prototype.

Designing the user interface

Moodboard and style tile

Our user research informed us that for the majority of users, their first instinct when sick was to want to stay home, to relax, to be looked after, to rest. I wanted the feel of the user interface to reflect these feelings, so I put together a moodboard to invoke emotions of calmness, serenity, floating and cleanness.

After the moodboard came the style tile, designed to reflect the feelings that had first been established in the moodboard. For the colour palette, I decided on a monochromatic scheme, with differing shades of blue. The monochromatic works well in this case, because the different blues reflect different hues of nature which are both calming and healing: water, sky, mist, clouds. I tried other blues before I settled on these, but they felt too corporate, bright or unnatural. The natural muted blues worked best for the feeling needing to be conveyed.

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The smooth blend of the monochromatic palette also don’t cause a sensory overload for Chloé, who is sick and bed and doesn’t want to feel stressed while trying to order her medication. The whole process from the first screen needs to feel like effortless floating.

Final Prototype

User testing and future possibilities

After testing this version of the prototype on users, desirability test users said that the overall feeling of the UI was calming, peaceful and serene. Usability testers said the user flow was a little bit difficult to follow, and could be made more intuitive. Future iterations could see these usability issues smoothed out and retested.

The concept of this application works well within the context of Parisian pharmacy density. With enough users who sign up to be deliverers in a similar fashion to UberEats, it is possible for Chloé to have pharmaceutical products delivered to her within minutes.

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