CLIENT: Type 1 Tools
INTENDED AUDIENCE: families and caregivers of children with Type 1 diabetes
CREDITS: Designers: Lisa Powell + Doug Powell
When designers Lisa and Doug Powell learned their daughter suffered from Type 1 "juvenile onset" diabetes, design was the last thing on their minds. Instead, they sought to learn all they could about the illness and the treatment options for their child. The experience was bewildering and draining. Already shocked and overwhelmed by the diagnosis of a serious disease, they were disheartened to find a dearth of quality educational materials for families affected by the illness.
The designers became voracious researchers, endeavoring to learn all the complex information needed to give the best care and ensure the best treatment for their child. This was particularly trying in the midst of a traumatic emotional crisis, especially because the health of their child depended on a strict regimen of mealtime calculations and insulin delivery. The designers recognized a clear design opportunity because the educational products available to parents were clinical, technical, intimidating, and completely un-kid-friendly.
An Effective Prescription
The designers created a successful set of tools by working closely with a network of diabetes professionals and families living with the disease. Their research relied on the experts and families to provide feedback and guidance and to review prototypes. "We were constantly researching and testing our ideas as we developed the design for these products," Doug Powell says. "In this case we were not only designers but entrepreneurs and product developers."
The result of their efforts was Type 1 Tools, a set of products that provides facts about the disease, as well as information on treatment and nutrition, all in an easy-to-use package. Type 1 Tools provides clear, concise, and critical information on Type 1 diabetes in an effective, empowering, and kid-friendly way.
Research Proves Key
Research proved that the target demographic for this project is typically Web-savvy, so Type 1 Tools are available for sale online. They also learned that health-care privacy regulations prevent direct contact with the customer (at least until the customer establishes it). Therefore, the Powells had to consider and plan carefully what kinds of collateral to create and then think about how to get it in the hands of children and families in need. Ultimately, the Type 1 Tools comprehensive website became the best vehicle for information and products, because viewers could use the site in the privacy of their homes or even access it with their doctor during an office visit. The Powells leaned on connections they had made while researching in the medical and diabetic communities to spread the word about their project and direct traffic to their site. At that point the partnership of research and design proved its merit, as the consumer market eagerly received the Type 1 Tools product line.
Solving an unframed problem proved to be transformative for the Powells. As they continue to fine-tune their research process, the designers recognize its value in multiple stages of development. "We find that, generally speaking, the more seriously we take the research aspect, the more smoothly the creative process goes," Doug Powell says. Not only do they bill for research, they also have learned to be insistent with clients, emphasizing the need to include time and budget for research.
A Rewarding Achievement
The Powells' passionate and dedicated research on Type 1 Tools helped create a well-designed resource, rewarding on several levels. Not only were the designers able to help families and children in need, they also boosted their own knowledge and learned how to better care for their daughter. There was also a surprise benefit: "Interestingly," Doug Powell says, "our new expertise as diabetes industry insiders with a design/communication specialty has garnered us several new consulting clients."