Designing the Health Experience


About the projects

Health is a big aspect of the overall experience at 23andMe – in addition to detecting any genetic predispositions, the company's mission is to help the users access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. Since joining the 23andMe product design team, I’ve worked iteratively with the product and engineering teams to improve the architecture, story, and visual design around 23andMe’s health experience.

It kicked off in 2017 with a design sprint and a cross-functional team to discuss the future vision of the health product, and to design a framework for the experience that could scale to accommodate new features and business goals.

My role

As the lead designer for 23andMe's health product, I played an integral role from the early strategy stages to the final execution. My responsibilities included:

  • aligning the needs of multiple departments to state clear goals
  • designing flows, wireframes, and high-fidelity mocks
  • reviewing designs for overall product and brand consistency
  • drafting protocols and testing concepts in collaboration with UX Research and Consumer Insights
  • working closely with the Engineering team to develop designs that are responsive and scalable

Using the customer journey to identify opportunities


Finished version of the Customer Journey Map

This process really started with the Customer Journey project. The Head of Product Design Kevin Flores, and I led this project in an effort to gain empathy for our users, to have a tool to facilitate cross-functional alignment, and to ultimately define the overall goal of the health experience.

To gather data for this Customer Journey project, Kevin and I talked to 22 people from product, product science, marketing, engineering, mobile, customer care, and executive teams who all in some way engage with or have insight into our customers. In addition to these small group meetings, the design team and I poured over NPS comments, reviews, and previously recorded user studies to gather quotes and anecdotes. I then mapped those findings against the stages of our product experience.

Some pain points with the health experience at the time

It became very clear that the health experience had big room for improvement. 23andMe’s users had a lot of anxiety around receiving potentially upsetting news (an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease, as an example), and there was an opportunity to rethink this entire experience.

After a design sprint, the cross-functional team defined the overall goal of the health experience as:

When users first look at their results, they have learned something valuable and feel empowered and motivated to learn more about themselves.

Laying the foundation with incremental solutions


With ambitious long-term goals in mind and plans to test these directions along the way, I’ve been working with cross-functional teams to gradually update the health experience. The goal of the very first step was to test some of the concepts in the live site. I scoped out what I thought should be MVP and presented the improvements from the current experience to get buy-in from executives. This was an effective way to break down a large project and to have something to deliver to our users sooner.

Prototypes showing early ideation

One of the core considerations the team made was to design the experience to be mobile first. About half of our users viewed 23andMe through their mobile devices, so I explored various designs to get everyone thinking about how we could create a great mobile experience.

Wireframes of the onboarding experience, later prototyped for testing

Following up from a design sprint on this topic, I was able to come up with a more detailed wireframe of the entire experience that the team felt good about testing.


Screenshots from a debrief deck I put together following a round of user testing

I prepared a user test protocol with inputs from the product manager and the product science team to make sure that these new designs were addressing our overarching goals. With the help from the consumer insights team, we were able to do 3 rounds of qualitative testing over the course of a few months: 1) A/B testing of mobile designs to get signals on how much contextual information users wanted to see, 2) questions around personalization and perception around the pre-results mobile experience, and 3) desktop designs that focused the navigational framework and general usability testing.

Each round of user testing was followed by a debrief and next steps. My role at this stage was to prepare a debrief deck with quotes from users around thematic areas we probed on to facilitate discussions.

This design was first done with the web team, since it was a brand new direction and we wanted to get it in front of our users before creating parity in the native mobile experience. I led the design efforts for native soon after, taking into consideration our learnings from building the web experience and equipped with some flexibility to update the designs that match iOS and Android ecosystems

Next steps

Screenshots of the ancestry, health, and research overview pages (4/14/2019)

As I was updating the design for the health product, I also worked closely with Susan Furest and Carolyn Kao – designers who focus on the ancestry experience and the research experience. Beyond syncing regularly on the visual design of these pages and updating the design system along the way, we shared insights and findings from user tests and in-product feedback to continuously make changes. It was a great experience to work together and make sure that the overall product experience felt consistent, while focusing on our individual expertise to make sure that the unique aspects of these experiences were not lost.

Flow and wireframes capturing some of the complexities of the health experience, and potential ways to evolve it

With a solid foundation in place, I am currently working with cross-functional teams to push the product experience beyond giving users their genetic results. This includes ways to make users feel empowered about their health, and how the teams should think about the information architecture of the experience in context of the new reports and features that are being worked on.

What I learned

A prototype showing interaction between Overview & All Reports filters

One of the most valuable things I learned while working on a project of this scale was the power of storytelling. Presenting to various teams to recap the work and sharing the final vision gave me numerous speaking opportunities which helped me keep the big picture in mind as I worked on specific aspects of the project. I also got much better at prototyping, whether it was for actual user testing or having something tangible to show stakeholders.

I also learned a lot about managing multiple projects:

  • for individual projects, breaking apart the vision to smaller tasks and effectively communicating with stakeholders and cross-functional teammates to manage expectations, no matter where it is in the timeline from ideation to execution
  • for overall product vision, connecting the dots on how these smaller pieces fit together, and communicating to other designers to ensure a consistent habit to work efficiently together
  • personal time management skills, from knowing when to spend time on documentation, to time-boxing each task and "ideation" time in order to move projects forward every week.


It has been a privilege to be able to work with amazing product managers, scientists, and engineering teams as I learned how to deliver work in an iterative way while maintaining a continuous cycle of feedback from various stakeholders.