Navigating the juxtaposition between commerce and resources for the end of human life
Beginning as an Open IDEO Challenge, Reimagine End of Life is a non-profit that is sparking a conversation about acknowledging death and living more fully. Reimagine hosts week-long, annual events in San Francisco and New York City that showcase the diversity and creativity in our communities. However, without a marketplace for end-of-life resource providers, event attendees have a challenging time discovering products and services that align with Reimagine’s vision year-round.
The organization needed a way to connect nearly 20,000 festival attendees to 500+ end-of-life providers throughout the year. The designs shown are a V1 that will be validated further at the San Francisco festival in October 2019.
My Role as Product Designer
I executed the user research, synthesized themes, and worked on creating the detailed visual designs. I was a product design consultant for Reimagine.
How do we create a trusted online space for end-of-life where vendors and vendees can find solace in?
87% of citizens surveyed at Reimagine’s festival would seek more uplifting conversations about the topic of death
53% of elderly citizens wanted resources that could give a new perspective on death
Design Reimagine’s platform, taking into account the elderly, any end-of-life providers, and citizens interested in sparking conversations about death. Our designs would be shown to investors for Reimagine’s seed round.
Working backwards from the perfect end-of-life marketplace
Before I could jump into designing, it was important to define success and understand what users visiting this site could potentially do. I talked to five potential users in their 60s and 70s who have been to Reimagine events to learn more about the tone and language I needed to use in the resource center. My team also talked to a professional grief counselor so we could incorporate their needs.
The fine juxtaposition between commerce and the circle of life
Although the ultimate end goal is to make money off this platform, people are coming here planning for death, or already grieving. As such, I made sure that the site wasn’t focused on commerce, but rather these themes.
Since I had only 2 months to create the Reimagine site, I narrowed down the features for this minimum viable product. The home page is the initial site that people will land on, and the provider page is for businesses offering services to highlight their information.
Incorporating brand identity into a marketplace for a very sensitive topic
Redesign already had a set of design standards including typography, colors, and card components. I started with their branding but had to build additional components from scratch.
Iterations of the Provider Page
Initial testing with users said that seeing dollar signs and add to cart felt disingenuous with the platform. After talking with the founder I decided to pivot from a marketplace to a resource center for v1.
The physical properties of this page needs to be perceivable and operable for all ages, especially the elderly. It was important for us to highlight the services that the provider offered and how to get ahold of them.
Final Provider Page
Entry Points: I made sure that users can clearly go the provider’s own webpage if they want to find out more.
Visual Hierarchy: From a marketplace to transitioning into a resource center, I needed to highlight the main pillars of the ethos behind Reimagine, which are the three categories, Prepare, Remember, and Live Fully. As such, each resource card will have tags that says what category it falls under.
Iterations of the Home page
This is the entry point of the site, as such some constraints that we had to consider were location—many businesses are tied to a geographic location such as cemeteries. I also had to take into account Hick’s Law, the time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases. With too many actions to take, users will bounce from the site.
Since we pivoted from a marketplace to a resource center, I made the focus of the home page less commercial and more informative. Users will be drawn by the imagery of the site and the pillars rather than dollar signs.
Iteration 1: Discover CTA leading to more information about the platform
Iteration 2: Airbnb style of finding physical resources based on location
Iteration 3: Putting all content under the three pillars of Prepare, Remember, Live Fully
I am still tweaking the designs before the start of the festival, but I have clear constraints that guide our decision making process.
Hick’s Law—offering fewer options to minimize processing time
Accessibility—Designing with the elderly in mind
Structured Choices—High level categories, (prepare, remember, live fully) to filter complexity to facilitate decision making
My first iteration of the marketplace will be measured at the San Francisco festival in October, 2019. After further iterations and added functionality, it will be scaled nationally in preparation for the New York City festival in April, 2020.
Along with content population and disseminating the vision of Reimagine to a national audience, V1 of the marketplace will be a free marketing channel for businesses in the end-of-life space. Reimagine’s first objective is to driving traffic and develop wide market recognition; following that, monetization opportunities will be evaluated.
Always keep in mind the target audience
It is better to understand and perfectly meet the needs of a critical few than to poorly meet the needs of many. Before pivoting, Reimagine had standard e-commerce patterns that alienated the core personas that I was designing for.
Constraints in design help navigate toward the solution
Since the topic of death is a huge psychological barrier to get through, as well as a taboo topic in the western world, I explored existing end-of-life conventions when crafting designs. Death and religion are very closely intertwined, so I made sure to design for Catholics as well as Buddhists and Hindus.