Mobile Service for Pennsylvania WIC

About this Project
Improving the end-to-end experience for low-income families.
Recruitment • Empathy and Journey Mapping • Interviews

Throughout this 7-month capstone project as a part of my Master of Human-Computer Interaction program at CMU, I worked with PA WIC and led the team through quantitative and qualitative research and data analyses. We created an SMS and mobile app based solution to encourage and empower WIC families to create healthy habits and improve nutritional goals.


The Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has improved the nutrition and health of families in Pennsylvania since 1974 by providing nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods. While PA WIC provides food benefits and nutritional resource for eligible children up until the age of 5, barriers prevent caregivers of children over the year of 1 from staying in the program and developing the nutritional habits they want and need. My team worked with PA WIC to create a solution that would improve the total experience. Team Members: Jane Lee (UX Researcher), Onyekachi Nwabueze (UX Designer), Yunmin Oh (CUI Designer), Connor Shannon (Engineer), Kristy Zhang (UX Researcher)


I led the recruitment process of finding PA WIC participants for interviews. This proved to be difficult at first since physical WIC clinics were closed during Covid, and the main way that they disburse information is through physical pamphlets. My team and I overcame this challenge by posting flyers at local grocery stores and asking local organizations to share digital flyers on their social media and email blasts. To ensure a sufficient spread of participants, my process was to recruit as many participants as possible at the beginning and interview them using different methods in each phase. We were able to successfully recruit 159 participants, 94 of whom I coordinated English and Spanish interviews for. My team and I shared interviewing and notetaking responsibilities.
"How likely is the average parent to hold onto those flyers, pamphlets, and infographics? They're not! But would they refer back to it in an app or somewhere digital since we live in a technology-driven world? Yes." - Participant RB

Data Analyses

I facilitated qualitative and quantitative data analyses and translated insights that guided the design rationale. This included hosting a co-design workshop and empathy mapping with PA WIC employees (shown on the left), leading the team through analyzing and extracting insights from this workshop and participant interviews, and collaborating with the designers on my team to make design choices that are feasible and appropriate for the users' needs. In the design workshop, I guided the stakeholders from high-level ideas (black sticky notes) to measurable shifts (blue sticky notes).

Customer Journey Map

After interviewing multiple WIC participants and stakeholders, I created a user journey map that spans the start of their WIC journey to the end. The map was based on the experiences of the three main WIC participant groups: a pregnant mother, a breastfeeding mother, and a non-breastfeeding mother or other caregiver. This enabled the client to see the program from the participants' perspectives and gave us a foundation to center our designs around.

Shift in Project Direction

Initially, PA WIC focused on having us improve the clinic waiting room experience since they believed it would yield many benefits, including increasing program success. However, after hearing participants’ experiences and seeing them on the journey map, we realized that improving the waiting room would only be treating the symptom and not the root cause. We found that making it easier for participants to access WIC resources would also allow them to actually integrate the resources into their lives and build healthier habits, creating more value for PA WIC including a better waiting room experience. After presenting our research-based evidence to the stakeholders, they fully agreed and supported the change in our project direction to a solution that would be accessible through both SMS and a mobile app. Shown on the left is one storyboard that was presented in designing this solution.

Competitive App Analysis

In order to start creating the best version of our app, I led my team in conducting competitive analyses of similar apps that used the same features we incorporated into our app: Self-Monitoring, Personalization, Reminders, and Praise/Reward. We keyed in on things we liked about these apps, things we didn't like, and how we can use these to improve upon our app.