Who Needs the Beach and Booze? Alternative Spring Break Offers A Different Experience

Workit Health hosted a team of four grad students for Alternative Spring Break, where they worked to create innovative solutions for addiction with Workit’s team in a brief trip to the Bay Area.

As a team of four graduate students from the University of Michigan School of Information focusing in User Experience Research and Design, our self-initiated Alternative Spring Break was to work with Workit Health in San Francisco, improving Workit member experience with their mobile app. Most days within the week, we had the opportunity to work at a conference room in The Wing space designed for women located in downtown San Francisco.

Robin, Co-Founder of Workit, with the team.

Robin, Co-Founder of Workit, with the team.

On Monday at The Wing, we met with the CEO & co-founder of Workit Health, Robin, to further discuss and understand her expectations and our assignment for the coming week. Robin has an award-winning design background, and brings that experience to Workit’s program. Robin walked us through the online courses and coaching Workit members went through when they begin their program with Workit Health, allowing us to better understand the context we were working with. We had the privilege to have a special guest presentation from Robin’s husband, Beau, who runs the design firm Founders & Co, and previously worked at IDEO. He gave us helpful insights of design processes and provided us with rule of thumbs for prototyping rapidly.

After Beau’s presentation, Robin dived back into explaining what our mission was for this week for Workit Health. They wanted us to build out a top-secret moonshot project which included innovative new interactive features for the member dashboard. We had the opportunity to walk through the current look of the app with Robin and hear a few of her ideas about the project. Before the end of the day, we scheduled interviews with Workit’s Marketing and Counseling teams to receive further insights into the possibilities we could develop.

Tuesday morning at our Airbnb in Oakland, we interviewed Kali, Workit’s Head of Marketing, and Brooke, Workit’s Head of Care Management. We did a deep dive into the audience that we’re designing for, as Workit is focused largely on human-centered and patient-led design. When we returned to The Wing, we had a guest presentation and talk with Kate Harris, co-founder & creative director at SIREN, about entrepreneurship, which was inspirational and motivational for our future career paths. Afterwards, we consolidated the key information from our interviews and researched user feedback regarding Workit Health’s current program.

The ASB team at Pinterest.

The ASB team at Pinterest.

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet with Amy Compeau and a few other designers from Pinterest for lunch and learned more about what they do and their design process. After their generosity of meeting with us, we headed to the Workspace Cafe for a few hours to sketch out our ideas and began prototyping high-fidelity mockups. Since we only had one week for the project, we paired up and split the work. We designed prototypes of a brand new section of the app.

Thursday was our second to last day of working with Workit Health. We touched based with Robin to run some ideas past her and to make sure we were on the right track. We finalized our designs and worked on our presentation together. Friday morning, was presentation day and we headed into San Francisco one last time. We presented to the entire Workit team, including Counseling, Development, Marketing, and Design. We demonstrated our objectives, background research, and brainstorming with our sketches and high-fidelity prototypes, explained why we made certain design decisions, and provided additional recommendations.

We are truly grateful for this experience, as we learned a lot about how to design for an audience we may not be the most familiar with. We asked a lot of questions to become as familiar as we could with the problem space of helping people with addiction, which taught us how to ask the right questions to get those answers, especially without access to the patients directly. Additionally, we learned how to work quickly, as we went from being unfamiliar with the problem space to producing high-fidelity prototypes within a week!


Workit Health offers expert, evidence-based addiction care online.