My Fall 2017 HCI design class was structured as a semester-long group project to design a product that helps a community. My team and I decided to build a solution to help smokers to kick their habit.

Here's what we came up with.


Step 1 | User Interviews

Key takeaways

We conducted interviews with members of the smoking community to better understand their motivations to either quit or continue smoking, and why certain quitting methods do or do not work. The interviews took place in locations where our users usually smoked - on their porch, outside the library, at their favorite bar - to give context to the situations in which our customers would be using our product. Our team then gathered the raw data from our interview notes and organized it into an affinity diagram to identify key trends.


They smoke for a variety of reasons, such as for socialization, school-related stress, or just simply to occupy idle hands.


Health was their primary quitting motivator - They wanted to avoid the long-term consequences, or mitigate the negative health effects they were already experiencing.


Scare tactics don't work - As one of my interviewee's noted, "I already know that it's bad for me. I need someone to acknowledge that it's hard to quit, not someone to tell me I'm going to get lung cancer if I don't."


Support networks were most effective for long-term quitting.


We synthesized these common qualities into a persona to guide the design process of our solution to meet users' most important goals.

| Meet Archie

Archie Bryant
Senior at Cornell University, Major in Business
New York • 21 • Gemini

Archie is a career-motivated student who wants to do whatever he can to land a job at a successful bank. He enjoys spending time with friends, partying, and playing rec soccer.

“I want to stop relying on cigarettes, especially before I enter the workforce. I can’t focus without them, get horrible headaches, and can’t enjoy soccer like I used to.”

“I’ve tried quitting cold turkey several times before, but, you know, because of school I’m always stressed and cigarettes help calm me down.”


Step 2 | Ideation

Based off of our interview findings, my team produced over 100 different design ideas to meet our customers' needs.

Out of this ideation session came the initial concept of the LockBox - a cigarette container that only dispenses one cigarette at a time upon completion of a short brain game on a partner smartphone application.

With our initial design in mind, we developed storyboards to further understand how users may interact with and use our solution in context before developing a physical product.

Step 3 | Low-Fidelity Prototyping

The first full iteration of our system was a paper prototype that we used for proof-of-concept testing.


Maze game to unlock the pack - Creates a barrier to access cigarettes, and provides an enjoyable mental and tactile distraction for stressed studiers and thumb-twiddlers.

Motivational quotes and facts - Deliver immediate encouragement to users when they may be  feeling discouraged during their quitting journey.

Daily and long-term goal tracking system - Allows users to quantify and visualize their progress with cigarette consumption and health statistics, inspired by  popular fitness applications to fit the mental model of health and wellness.

Social area - Provides a platform for support networks between smokers.


From conducting user testing interviews with the paper prototype, we found that users felt that their cigarette and health statistics were the most encouraging feature, and they would like to see more metrics.

Users appreciated the concept of the maze puzzle, but were afraid that they may be annoyed by the feature in certain situations. Although only a handful enjoyed the current social area, all users felt that it had the potential to fit their needs if we made some adjustments to the kinds of interactions available.

While the goal related facts were received well, the motivational quotes got mixed reviews.


Based on this feedback, we created a low-fidelity interactive version of the system in Balsamiq, fleshing out key UI elements, adding more statistic elements and a more detailed onboarding process for improved goal-tracking, and developing a more substantial social section, which included group chats based on users' personal quitting goals. Ultimately, we decided to nix the inspirational quotes due to the varying opinions on them - we did not want any users to feel that the app was frivolous or trivializing.

Step 4 | High-Fidelity Prototyping

We did a heuristic evaluation of the low-fidelity prototype using Neilson's heuristics. Based on our assessment, we developed a high-fidelity prototype, integrating our highest priority design changes, such as improving navigation between pages, adding instructions to the puzzles, and creating a more relevant lock screen notification. 

We felt that we needed to further address the primary purpose of the system: to get users to smoke less. To this end, we designed the game completion screen to display links to the app's additional features, such as social chats, and to present users with their current goals and personalized smoking facts, all before the option to unlock the pack. Additionally, we created more game features, including a live chat and social groups for games, as well as a puzzle leaderboard. We expected this to redirect users' attention to exploring and utilizing these non-smoking activities long enough for their cravings to pass, and ultimately have the users opt to keep the pack locked.


| Usability Studies

My team and I conducted usability studies using our high-fidelity interactive prototype. We asked users to complete various simple tasks, such as messaging a friend after playing a game, getting a cigarette, and checking the game scoreboard and their smoking metrics. Although users were able to easily and quickly complete these tasks, our testers consistently told us that  the app focused too much on the brain games to the point that it took away from the intent of the app. People were confused by the game-related chats, were unenthusiastic about the scoreboard, and overall felt that the game shouldn't play any part other than being an extra step to getting a cigarette. Clearly we had missed the mark.

| Social / Gameplay Overhaul

Removed all gameplay-focused social features to refocus the product back to the quitting goal.

Added more metrics since they were popular motivators.

Removed direct messaging other than talking to a support specialist, as users preferred a group feed.

Added a badge section where users could show off their quitting achievements for their chat profiles. This keeps the enjoyable competitive spirit that social games and leaderboards provide, while still keeping the focus on quitting.

Replaced hiding with showing - Originally our strategy was to conceal and distract from options that let users open the pack to smoke. I spearheaded an idea to instead show users the consequences for their decision to either open the pack or not smoke at the most pivotal moments.