Your Quit Case Study

The problem

 

In a 2018 survey, 55% of smokers said they'd attempted to quit cigarettes in the past year, but only 7.5% of those quit attempts were successful. The unfortunate reality is that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on earth, and while smoking cessation apps can be motivating tools, many quit attempts end so disappointingly they send the smoker back to square one. For an addict who slips up, an app that once seemed helpful can transform into a source of shame, a reminder of failure, something to be deleted and forgotten about as quickly as possible. If most smokers want to kick the habit, how do we get them there? 

Jump to wireframe

My goals for the prototype

 

I wanted to create an app that keeps smokers engaged even when they think they’ve given up. An app that users don’t want to delete if they break down and have a cigarette. An app that’s patient with them until they’re ready to try again. An app that knows, as smokers do, that quitting is a marathon, not a sprint.

My personal goals

 

As someone new to the field of UX writing, I wanted to put my skills to use by creating a mockup of an app from scratch. This project allowed me to practice the following:

  • Conducting user research to test the validity of my conclusions

  • Developing user journey maps

  • Building a wireframe

  • Creating a research-informed style guide

  • Crafting intuitive copy to guide users through the app

Through this project, I was able to cohere what I learned from my class Fundamentals of UX Writing. As a UX writer, I understand that my work is more than filling in a pre-designed screen with text. This case study is an effort to showcase my instincts for design thinking overall.

User insights

 

Through reading hundreds of posts in online support groups for smoking cessation, mostly r/StopSmoking and the Smoke Free Facebook group, I learned a lot about smoking cessation and how different individual journeys can look. I did general research into smoking cessation as well. Within the community, I observed tensions surrounding the question of the "right" way to quit—with nicotine replacements or "cold turkey." I also saw that, given the difficulty of quitting smoking, the average quit journey involves a fair amount of emotional upheaval.​

To gain a deeper sense of a typical user journey and profile, I created a survey and posted it in the subreddit r/StopSmoking. I received responses from 48 former smokers. While not a statistically significant number of responses, it was still useful for me to work from real data. Of my respondents, 87.2% had used smoking cessation apps.

 

Respondents who spoke to their use of apps praised the following features:

  • Ability to track time smoke-free and feelings of motivation from not wanting to reset the counter

  • Engaging interactive features to distract from cravings, such as reward badges for health improvements or money saved

  • General feeling of accountability, including access to community support groups

Respondents who spoke to their use of apps criticized the following issues, among others:

  • Not enough happens after the six month mark, such as lower frequency of reward badges

  • Too much happens: notifications from the app can cause cravings that wouldn't normally occur

  • Apps do not allow them to track nicotine cessation and smoking cessation separately

  • The apps can be “smug” when a user fails in their quit attempt

In evaluating other data, I observed the following:

  • Respondents ranged in age from “under 18” to “60-69,” suggesting that smoking cessation apps are popular among smokers of all ages




     














  • 89.4% of respondents had tried multiple times to quit smoking prior to their current attempt

























     

  • Of respondents who have attempted quits before, 44.7% used NRT in at least one of those attempts. Overall, the varied data on NRT use for past quit attempts suggests that smokers attempt multiple approaches to quitting between attempts, and that there’s no “one size fits all” solution or “right way” to quit























     







 



 

 

  • Of all respondents, 51.1% had at some point deleted their app after a failed quit attempt. 










     

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, the responses lined up with the research I'd done into smoking cessation and my gut impressions. Users will typically attempt to quit smoking multiple times before succeeding, are discouraged by failure to the point of deleting their once-helpful apps, and tend to experiment with both NRT and cold turkey approaches between different quit attempts. 

The solution

 

Seeing that smokers quit differently, at different ages and times, with different approaches and needs, I wanted to create an experience that was truly customizable based on each user’s unique goals. 

 

Many smokers feel they lack control over their addiction, so I aimed to inspire feelings of agency through my copy. Through allowing users to personalize their smoking cessation journey, and rewarding any steps towards harm reduction, I believed I could create an app that would reduce drop-off, improve outcomes, and empower smokers to try as many times as they need to quit.

For the purposes of this case study, I created a style guide, user journey map, and mockup of the onboarding flow. 

User journey map

 

To begin exploring style and voice, I made a user journey map for the flow I intended to create. The working premise was to split the app into two dynamic modes: quit mode and harm reduction mode. Users in quit mode would have access to smoke-free and nicotine-free time counters, as well as an option to track the use of nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs). Users in harm reduction mode would be able to log cigarettes smoked while setting personalized goals. I wanted to show an onboarding flow that felt intuitive, flexible, and friendly.

 

As a UX writer, I focused on outcomes for copy, using insights gained from my research into users. I also wanted to roughly map out the potential order of the screens. 

 

Style guidelines

 

From thinking about my users’ emotional experiences at the start of their quit journeys, I gained insight into voice principles. Smokers want to be empowered, validated, and supported as they overcome addiction, and the last thing they want is to feel judged. I used these conclusions to define Your Quit’s voice.

 

  • Affirming and encouraging. As smoking delivers dopamine to the system, a new ex-smoker can feel seriously deprived. Through congratulating and awarding accomplishments large and small, Your Quit motivates the user to stick with it.

  • Informative and helpful. It’s stressful and challenging to fight addiction, so ex-smokers want all the help they can get. Facts about the benefits of smoking cessation are motivating, and research-informed advice in tough moments can get users through.

  • Unbiased, NOT judgmental. Smokers are often already judging themselves, and failure in a quit attempt can be devastating. Your Quit wants to make users feel good about themselves, their choices, and every step they take towards harm reduction.

 

Using my voice principles, I also created a short glossary of words to use and why.

 

 

The wireframe

 

Creating an actual mockup of my work challenged me to balance concision with comprehensiveness. My goal was to make smoking cessation truly customizable, but how could I do that without overloading the user with questions to personally tailor their experience? Working on the wireframe made a UX lesson from my classes more concrete: don’t marry your first idea. Each day I returned to work, I looked at my flow with a critical eye and an open mind, and the “modes” I originally envisioned became more adaptable without losing simplicity. I also saw the benefit of a content-first approach, as the design changed in the process of fine-tuning the copy.

Onboarding
What I did:
  • I created a tagline that highlights Your Quit's benefits, encouraging users to sign up while adhering to brand principles 
  • I wrote affirming microcopy to assure users that their choices are respected and Your Quit will support them wherever they are in their journey
  • I added dynamic text under the radio buttons to make clear what will happen next depending on which option you choose
  • I created a straightforward questionnaire to gather data from the user to track their money saved
 
Goal-setting: reduction mode
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What I did:
  • Encouraged goal-setting for harm reduction through affirming language and the promise of rewards, without pressuring the user to quit before they're ready
  • Allowed the user to customize reminders for future goal-setting, including the option to opt out
  • Used supportive, empowering language in the modal and button copy to motivate the user
 
 
Goal-setting: quit mode
 
 
 
 
What I did:
  • Allowed users total flexibility in defining the terms of their quit plan by gathering data on NRTs and allowing them to track their use
  • Left no ambiguity that the "quit date" is the first day the user will not smoke cigarettes and is unrelated to nicotine use
  • Created tool tips to educate the user on nicotine replacement therapy and advise them to consult medical experts for recommended use
  • Added a warning banner beneath "vape" that conveys factual information without discouraging users from choosing this option if it's right for them
  • Introduced goal-setting in advance of the quit date to get users engaged with the app before their big day
 
Cigarette tracker: reduction mode
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Use this
Not this
Because...
Example
Quit
Smoking cessation
The word "quit" can be used fluidly and feels less formal and medical than "smoking cessation."
"How's your quit going?"
Set-back, mistake
Relapse or any language surrounding relapses to suggest finality or failure
Your Quit's attitude is that all harm reduction matters, and its goal is to keep users focused on doing what they can in the moment.
"So, you had a set-back. But one day of smoking doesn't cancel out your days smoke-free."
Nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine replacement product
Crutch, substitute, dependency, or any language suggesting that NRT is not viable, meaningful harm reduction
As the app aims to give agency to users, there shouldn't be negative language surrounding any approach to quitting smoking.
"Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) make quitting smoking easier by reducing the strength of cravings."
Addiction, addictive
Addict
Users are struggling with addiction, but they should not be defined by it. Use person-first language.
"Overcome your addiction on your own terms."
Advise, recommend, suggest
Language to the effect of, “You shouldn’t do that” or “Don’t do that.”
We want to inspire agency and empowerment by rewarding any step towards harm reduction, all the while offering motivating resources.
"Nicotine vapes can be addictive. Your Quit recommends carefully tracking their use."
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What I did:

  • Used affirming microcopy to motivate and energize the user in their efforts to cut back on smoking

  • Put quitting on the user's mind by including mention of it in the microcopy, without being pushy

  • Provided convenient time trackers to help users space out their smoking, as well as a counter that reminds them of the goal they set ("5 of 10" instead of just "5")

  • Added a cigarette log with timestamps to help the user better track their habits

  • Created a warning banner to caution users against using NRT and tobacco at the same time, and do not allow users to track uses of both concurrently

  • Allowed users to track time until quit date if they've set one

  • Created an encouraging modal to appear on the user's quit date, promising to offer support, but also allowing them the option to change their plan without judgment

Quit date and smoke-free trackers

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What I did:

  • Used affirming microcopy on the smoke-free trackers to remind the user of their triumph

  • Showed users money saved and cigarettes not smoked over time using the data they logged during onboarding

  • Allowed users to log and easily reference their habits with nicotine replacements

  • Allowed users to track time until dose reduction

  • Allowed users to log money spent on NRT, making the "money saved" dynamic

  • Celebrated the user with a second "nicotine-free" counter and a new set of rewards when they quit nicotine entirely

Outcome

As this was a learning exercise and not a real project, the primary outcome was that I learned, which was phenomenal! After completing my final assignment for the UX Content Collective, I wanted the experience of building a wireframe from scratch, to explore questions of voice, tone, and style as I worked simultaneously on fine-tuning the logic of a flow. The process allowed me to build confidence in my skills as I drew from real data to draw conclusions about my users and make executive decisions about style and voice. Were this a real app, I would flesh it out to add reward badges, an intuitive diary feature, and supportive intervention from the app in instances of relapse. As it is, I benefitted from undertaking this project and feel excited about whatever flow I'll work on next.