Pennsylvania WIC
7 Months
Native Mobile Application + SMS
Figma, Twilio, Firebase Firestore

The Challenge

The Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (PA WIC) experiences steep drop-off rates & diminishing coverage rates of eligible Pennsylvania residents. With the ultimate goal of providing health and nutrition education to at-risk mothers and caregivers experiencing low-income, these statistics raise concerns about the future of health and nutrition in low-income communities.

My Role(s)

UX Designer

I facilitated design activities for the team, taught members about various design patterns, concepts, and was also the designer for front-end deliverables such as the mobile application, project presentations and project website.

Project Manager

As a co-project manager, I acted as the outreach and communications point-person for organization stakeholders (i.e. state director of PA WIC) and our clients. I set internal due dates and outlined work for others and designed a content management system used for project documentation and organization.

Executive Summary


Build a digital solution that improves the experiences of participants throughout their PA WIC journeys in order to stimulate and maintain higher participant retention rates.


WICster - A proactive health and nutrition companion that uses nudging to educate and motivate participants to reach their health goals.

The Users

Like most parents, our target demographic included busy mothers and caregivers from diverse familial and educational backgrounds. A common theme shared amongst our users was the lack of understanding of what WIC provides and a need for quick and easy access to reliable parenting resources.

Insights from User Research

Project Pivot

From the 82 participants (including 11 staff members) - we learned that the user problem, and ultimately, our solution did not lie solely in the waiting room, as per our client’s expectations. Participants did not highlight the waiting room as their pain point in their WIC journey. An interactive and engaging waiting room was not going to significantly improve the participant experience or ultimately address the organization’s greater issues of low retention and declining enrollment rates. Instead, participants wanted better access to nutritional resources that fit into their busy lives. This marked the closing of our clinic research exploration phase.

Key Findings
  • Participants experienced high uncertainty when shopping for WIC-approved food items and preparing for appointments, which led to additional effort on their part.
  • Caregivers are extremely busy and stressed so resources need to be easily accessible and actionable to fit into their lives.
  • Reducing the effort regarding keeping track of WIC appointments and benefit plans would greatly improve participants’ experience. PA WIC staff feel the main problems the organization faces are outside of their control (i.e. technological integrations) but are eager to be more involved in the process of improving WIC services.


How can we use technology to enrich the WIC experience and empower participants to further instill healthy and nutritious habits in their families?

Rapid Sketching

At the start of our design phase, I facilitated a rapid sketching activity: Future Press Release. We utilized the Crazy 8s method where each team member quickly drew 8 different ideas, each in just 1 minute.

Designing for Behavior Change

I designed low fidelity mockups of key features for our mobile app interface including a digital journal for self-reflection, a help bot chat feature, and a resource library of health tips. We found that sers did not need another health app, but valued information that is (1) proactively sent to them and (2) personalized to their needs and situational context.

Our team needed to adjust our feature concepts to ones that effectively promote behavior change and that also motivated participants to reach their family health goals. From background research, we discovered 4 design elements that were successful in promoting behavior change and named them as standards to include in our design solution.

I was able to introduce the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a design concept under our named standards of 'self-monitoring' and 'reminders'. TPB includes the claim that a person is more likely to execute an activity if planned beforehand.

Abductive Decision-Making

For our users, controlling the context in which mothers received health tips had a direct implication on our design's associated value. In order to translate our user qualitative user insights to tangible design concepts, I facilitated the Why, How, Prototype, Iterate (WHPI) design activity.

Goal: Involve the entire team in design decisions necessary for finalizing the content of our SMS chatbot and mobile app interface.

Result: Our team had both SMS and mobile app blueprints that we used to start development and design of higher prototype fidelities.

Snapshot of Miro board - WHPI Activity


Meet WICster!

WICster is a virtual companion that not only proactively delivers nutrition education in the form of health tips, but also uses nudging to encourage caregivers to reach their health goals. We built this companion in the form of an SMS chatbot and a native mobile application.

Design System

Prototyping & Design

User Need: Proactive Access to Health & Nutrition Resources

WICster is proactive. Our solution provides users with nutrition education by sending sizable bites of health and nutrition information and tips directly to their mobile device (via SMS or push notification). We use nudges to not only impart knowledge to mothers so that the effort once required to seek out health resources is alleviated, but also so make it easier for caregivers to implement such health advice into their lives.

User Need: Personalized Health & Nutrition Resources

WICster provides personalized health and nutrition resources to caregivers. We researched ways to make WICster as personalized and tailored to each user as possible because this would ultimately enhance the user experience and increase the value WICster holds to individuals. From manual topic filtering, to app onboarding and data collection, our team found the right balance of gathering and utilizing just enough participant data to feed into WICster’s database and provide a unique and personalized experience.

User Need: Encouragement and motivation to implement health advice via praise and reward

WICster takes on an encouraging and friendly persona to motivate users. Using an encouraging, friendly, and approachable voice and tone for WICster makes users feel empowered and confident in their choices for their families, rather than condescending and discouraged. Reward and praise screens and design specs reinforce positive behavior towards healthier lifestyles.

User Need: Integration Support with the Goal of Forming Lifelong Healthy Habits

WICster provides integration support for implementing healthy choices. We were able to implement the Theory of Planned Behavior into our design by designing a planning tool for participants to easily try and put to practice the health tips they received. WICster not only generates daily plans with tips to learn and recipes to try, but allows for caregivers to add their own recipes and plans to their schedule.


User-Client value

WICster proved to change behavior and support habit integration of healthy and nutritious meals and decisions among mothers and caregivers. The value WICster brings to PA WIC is the sustained engagement of participants through health and nutrition education and implementation support. With WICster, PA WIC can accomplish their goal of improving the narration of nutrition in low-income communities.

Building empathy

Building empathy and understanding users takes more than just conducting user interviews but requires a deeper understanding of their values and life priorities.


Working alongside PA WIC was a humbling and fulfilling experience as I was able to apply HCI methods to design for an often underserved and underrepresented population.

Further exploration

If we were granted more time and resources, I would have liked to explore and design for other use cases such as ESL speakers and caregivers who are not engaged with the WIC program and remain in it solely for the food benefits. Our design solutions were targeted at newer, first-time mothers of children from infancy to age 2 since PA WIC experiences drop-off rates at this stage. However, it would have been interesting to learn more about how to target those with older children (ages 4 and 5) and those who are not active or engaged participants in the program.
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External Links

Check out our project updates on our Medium Blog Posts (here)!

I designed our team project’s website (here)!

View our interactive prototype (here).