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OUCH! is Here to Reduce the Frustrations of Using a First Aid Kit

by Jessica Deseo on 01/04/2022 | 7 Minute Read

Ouch! Let’s think back to the last time you used a first aid kit. If asked “how was that experience,” you would probably shrug and say “fine.” It’s nothing memorable, just a box of bandages and ointments.

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Dear reader, it could be so, so much better. We have let first aid kits coast by on just “okay” for far too long. Most kits have the same structure—it is a box divided into a couple of subsections (if you are lucky) with a wide array of bandages, gauzes, creams, and tools shifting haphazardly across their divided sections. It is nearly impossible to decipher the bandages from one another; you have to take a guess and hope for a bandage that is suitable for your needs.

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Did you know what you needed? Have you ever had first aid training, and just how long ago was that? What is the difference between antiseptic wipes and alcohol prep pads!? One is going to sting if used incorrectly—hopefully you chose the right one. Some first aid kits provide a small guide and describe situations of breaks, choking, sprains. But what about you, with your stinging and bleeding cut? Why didn’t they tell you what to do!

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This is not care with confidence. This is second-guessing, a shot in the dark, a product that does not care about its user. Don’t worry, we’ve got great news for you. We came into this project to rejuvenate the sleepy category of medical care products and worked to transform a simple box into a service system, to craft a frustration-free product experience. We took a user-centric approach with attention to addressing their needs throughout each step of our creative process: discover, define, develop, deliver. Discover In our discover phase, we explored market opportunities through a customer journey map, looked closely at shelf presence, and analyzed competitor brands to pinpoint our brand position. To better understand potential customer’s needs, our team took a walk-in customer’s shoes and investigated the overall experience of purchasing a first aid kit. We began by exploring the online market and the in-store shopping experience. We looked for visual cues that users seek to find first aid kits and what external information they use in their product comparison. After purchase we documented the process of unwrapping and working with the kit, whether in situations of high or low stress. Finally, we considered how users reorganize and store their first aid kits. We began to see frustrations at every step of the journey. Diving deeper into market research, we considered the visual cues and graphic systems in the area of first aid, including kits and individually packaged items. Color is used to visually differentiate the products, but the materiality remains consistent in this section. Generic bandages use white paperboard boxes with accents of navy and red, lifestyle bandages use a multicolor approach on paperboard, ointments and creams use gold with teal and navy on paperboard, and lastly the thick plastic first aid kits are exclusively red, white, and navy. First aid kits have poor shelf presence, often allotted the top or bottom shelves and are a lower priority than individually packaged items. Using the store brands as a starting point, we needed to assess the current market and positioning of many more brands in the first aid space. We placed these brands on a matrix of price and the usage their kit was designed for. From this matrix, we found that the market is saturated with low-cost all-purpose first aid kits but unfortunately, these are utterly lacking in personality and presence. These are kits bought out of obligation but not desire. As the price increased, the brand presence greatly improved but the usage moved to situational and emergency prepping. Therefore, we see a wide opening for a mid-price first aid kit at the all-purpose use level. Our investigation shows that it is paramount that this first aid kit have a strong brand presence and appealing packaging.

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Define -We defined our audience and key pain points with a user experience survey, task-based observation activities, and a target user persona. The survey lies at the intersection of “understanding the user” and “understanding the market”. It asked participants about the interaction with their first aid kits, what they look for and consider, brand, price range, storage information and more. The survey provided us with a wide demographic of users to learn from. To further understand our users and their interaction with the kit, we completed multiple timed observation activities. We prompted users with everyday first aid situations (e.g. your brother scraping a knee during soccer, cutting a finger while cooking) and watched how they navigated the kit in the situation, thinking aloud and describing frustrations along the way. We came away from this activity with three main pain points. Accessibility—the kits should be easy to use and cater to the needs of many abilities. Organization—contents should be organized in a logical and thoughtful way for improved convenience and user experience. Instruction—use of the items should be clearly communicated to avoid misuse. We created a family persona to get perspective of each of these pain points. This family helps us to recognize the broad range of users of first aid kits and, in turn, the broad range of needs to be met. Our family is a single mother who wants a highly organized kit that can be used quickly, her grade school child who needs clear instructions to care for himself, and her grandparents who need a kit that is accessible to differing levels of dexterity.

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Develop - We developed our brand image and presence, focusing on the attributes caring, reliable, and confident to drive our decision making. These principles helped to choose our name—OUCH!—and developed our mission statement. We likewise crafted a punchy wordmark and logo to deliver on our promise of a first aid kit with personality. We considered a variety of forms for our new kit—a binder book, a modular container system, or a refined box form—but to become the kit to shake up a sleepy market, we needed innovation. With holistic evaluation and aid from peer critiques, we decided to pursue the book concept and further evolved the form with attention to addressing user pain points that we have previously defined.

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Deliver - With our redesign of the kit, we transformed the first aid box into a book. When opened, the left side is a home for tools, each in a designated pouch, and the right side is divided into pages of usage instructions on the top and pages of items on the bottom. As lack of instruction was one of our guiding pain points during user research, we designed usage instructions to always be present and accessible, but not cumbersome to a user who does not need it. Our answer to an improved organization system is to curate item pages and introduce a color and number coding system for the contents. This system improves accessibility of the book for individuals who cannot read. The pages are connected to the book using disc bound binder rings that allow pages to be easily removed and reattached, allowing users to organize the book based on their usage and preferences. Importantly, we would sell the item pages in standalone refill packs which not only eliminate excessive packaging, reduce costs during shipments, but provide opportunities for customization. Our kit is designed to be flexible, durable, and personalized. When it comes to book pages, multiple items are connected together to increase organization and accessibility while minimizing the environmental impact of disposable packaging. The pages were inspired by the pull-tab lottery ticket method of “keeping the trash together”. Aside from the option to tear along the perforated lines to access an individual item, users can also pull the colorful tab to access it with the wrapper attached to the rest of the page. This saves the users the pain of finding a trash can to dispose of their small scraps and increases the opportunity for recycling as users are much more likely to recycle a large sheet of paper wrappers than they are to recycle the small stand-alone wrappers. When the first aid book is closed, the cover is secured by a magnetic flap, which is attached to a convenient handle for increased portability. The closed book lives in an outer package that takes the shape of a box to provide more structure and protection to the book itself. The volume and shape can also fit in various home environments as we refer back to our research that a lot of users tend to store the kit in closets or cabinets. OUCH! As you call upon us, we are an open book to help you care for yourself with confidence.

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We want to reduce the frustrations of the first aid kit, to make you feel less alone in these situations. We want to make first aid as pain free as possible. We are your guide, your cool older sibling, your peace of mind. We don't just hand you a box of loose items and say "good luck;" we are with you every step of the way.

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