WIC Case Study 🤰

Responsive Web Redesign: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC)
The WIC Program aims to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, sharing information on healthy eating, and granting referrals to needed health care.

The goal of this case study is to simply transform an already essential government program, WIC, so that its target users can readily navigate and seek benefits from the existing network.

The study will also focus on providing responsive web for users via mobile interfaces, and language accessibility for Spanish-speaking users.

UX Designer
User Research, Visual design,
Prototyping & Testing

Miro, Figma, Procreate, Photoshop, Zoom

February 2021
*Please access this project on a desktop or tablet for a better viewing experience. Please also note that all testing was conducted virtually through zoom due to pandemic restrictions. Some of the material shown was made in collaboration with creators Damian Salonick and Juan C.

Problem: Mothers who are looking for clear information regarding WIC benefits, eligibility, and the application process are overwhelmed by the poor design of the website. The amount of information jammed into key pages is difficult to understand and challenging to navigate -- this results in simple workflows like checking eligibility and finding WIC clinics a near impossible task.

Solution: Becoming a parent is one of life's greatest endeavors, and quite a challenging one at that. Soon-to-be mothers, mothers, and other guardians deserve a supplemental program that is straightforward and reassuring to use. This redesign will streamline its navigation and ensure that the key information mothers and parents need to reach is accessible, helpful, and simple to use.
Research Phase: Discovery and Definition
To the right is a proto-persona, a representation of a target user for WIC. Looking at the assumptions of different stakeholders helps to round out these target users and connect the design with real people.
The User Path

To know how to best improve WIC for users, we tried to think about the user path.

Applicants and recipients visit the current government WIC website with a timely need to learn what WIC can do for them, verify their eligibility, and find their local state agency or clinic.  Their main goal is to learn more about the services WIC provides and make an initial appointment at a local agency to validate and begin receiving benefits they need.

To the right you can see the entire path structure that makes up the WIC site with the bolded path being what we focus on for the redesign.

Below is the same bolded path with the added visuals of the current WIC site.
Heuristic Evaluation
To better understand that which needs to be improved, I took a closer look at each of our focus pages and noted what needed to change at first glance.

To the right (homepage) and below are the analyzed pages and components mentioned above, with notes highlighting some of the key observations.

How to Apply page:
Applicants/Recipients page:
Eligibility Requirements page:
Contacts page:
User Testing &
Collecting Insights

The testing objective was to confirm that users are able to navigate key WIC information and workflows in order to learn about any challenges in the interface that might make these tasks more difficult for users. Essentially, I wanted to see what on the site works and what doesn't, for real users, not just what my speculations were.

Main pain points and insights found from these interviews:

1. Many essential buttons require scrolling to access.

2. "State Website" and "Am I Eligible" buttons are hard to locate.

3. Major complications with the navigation bar structure; users all mistakenly left the WIC site and went into the USDA system and had difficulty finding the way back.

4. Lots of information about WIC, it's just very spread out through the website.

5. Text is word-heavy with inconsistent link formatting.

6. Contacts page is straightforward to use once users find it.

2x2 Matrixes help to highlight what is important to different stakeholders, WIC users (applicants/recipients) and Governtment Agencies.

Usability Testing
After our heuristic evaluation, we observed test users a second time, this time with a focus on navigation and how users were able to accomplish the following three tasks:

1. Find out what WIC is and what it does.

2. Find out if you are eligible for WIC benefits.

3. Locate the WIC site specific to the state of California.

          Five subjects were tested on mobile devices, these were the challenges:

           • The USDA Menu Bar continued to be a pain point for users and
             consistently led them outside of the WIC sub-site

           • The format of many buttons, particularly the “Am I Eligible” button, were
             difficult to identify as they did not have a consistent “button” look

           • Users found it difficult to find key information, such as what WIC is or              how to determine your eligibility. These topics were often buried in             
among a large amount of other text

Card Sorting
Card sorting is a UX research tool helpful for discovering how people understand and categorize information.

To the left are the various categories we created that pertain to WIC and its structural information. To the right are the same cards but they have been shuffled before testing with users.

For this card sort, we opted for an Open Card Sort method. Since there are so many navigation and structural categorizations in the current USDA WIC site, we wanted to see how each test user made sense of the information freely.

Six subjects were tested in this open card sort, each creating different groups of cards. To the right is an example of one of these interviews.

This testing feedback is useful because just this one interview tells us that User 2 prefers all breastfeeding-related information grouped into one package as opposed to how it's presented on the current site, or that they think application and eligibility workflows should be linked together.

Some key commonalities observed from the card sort interviewees include:
All users created a category based on the user types that are served by WIC
> emphasizes the need to create separate pages for each WIC user type

• The categories relating to services, policies, and information about WIC were often overloaded and challenging to    separate
> speaks to the vast amount of information and lack of organization in the current site, much of which               
         is not particularly important for users falling in the applicants/recipients category

Site Map Redesign
Based on the card sorting results, we put together a simplified site map for our redesign.

The top bar represents navigation and the bottom row is the footer section.

Notable changes made include:

     > Quantity of "About WIC" categories        reduced and grouped to one place

     > Testers agreed that divisions and        subdivisions should be made based        on how functional they are for users

     > User groups should be separated via        type (e.g. Applicant/Recipient,       
       Partner, State/Local Agency)

Wireframe Sketches

LowFi Wireframes
Homepage and Benefits page:
Iterations in Design
Reworkings of the Homepage:

Style Guide

Hi-Fi Wireframes

I was responsible for the Applicants and Eligibility pages in our high fidelity stage of the redesign. Visuals of the redesigned footer and the mobile version of the wireframes can also be found below.

Final User Tests
After putting together our high fidelity prototypes, we conducted another round of testing using the desktop prototype.
The same key user workflows were posed to the subjects:

1. Find out what WIC is and what it does.

2. Find out if you are eligible for WIC benefits.

3. Locate the WIC site specific to the state of California.

Five subjects were tested on desktop devices, and all five individuals were comfortably able to complete the tasks asked of them. Here is some of their direct feedback to the high fidelity prototype:

“The process of getting to the important resources is easy and simple. The USDA should definitely use this!”

“I really like that there are women of color. I also like that there’s a photo of a dad because as a volunteer who used to refer people to WIC and help them apply, men can also apply for their kids. The steps and the buttons make this way easier than what some of the state websites have right now.”

“I thought the design was very minimalist and the soft colors made me feel at ease.”

Final Thoughts
The project certainly included its challenges, but in the end we feel confident in the design we created. It emphasized that sometimes less really is more. As for next steps, we would continue to refine the prototypes through further user testing and would then present the design to WIC stakeholders both on a local and national level to get their thoughts and find a path towards implementing the design for the USDA.

More projects