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Design Consultant role in the partnership between the Design for Extreme Affordability class at Stanford and Smile Train.

Our team, designed and delivered a new mobile application to enable cleft pallet treatment for vulnerable populations in rural Colombia. 

My Contribution: 

  • Led a group of Stanford students in adapting their contextual-inquiry-based research into a remote format

  • Captained the usage of non-verbal research methods to connect with populations that had limited access to the internet and severe speech impediments


  • The redesigned app is currently in use by families in Colombia and Mexico

  • 80% improvement in the quality of images sent by users

  • 60% reduction in user error rate when submitting bi-weekly updates to orthodontists

Role - UX, Research
Year - 2020

Client - Smile Train & Design for Extreme Affordability

Initial Journey Map I designed based on recounts by Drs and the families

This artifact was immensely helpful for the group's internal alignment as we chose what opportunity spaces to explore further


Dr. Juan Pablo, Smile Train orthodontist in Colombia, was captaining a trial using tele health for long-term treatment in cleft palate patients.

The plan was to reduce the burden of care on families by providing a set of aligners and a digital platform where kids would upload pictures of their progress (think of an Invisalign service model).

However, the pictures coming in were virtually unusable, and the trial hit a standstill.


1. New App Flow

Our first solution set was to redesign the picture-taking process within the mobile application ​to include key information conveyed by nurses but forgotten by families. Sections included:

Quick Check-ins - This section was to be filled in daily rather than weekly in order to help with habit formation and provide doctors with specific information at a quicker pace

Photo Templates & References- While taking pictures, families could both use the templates as well as an "ideal picture" for their reference


The team's original research strategy was based mostly on contextual inquiry -- a method no longer possible due to the COVID pandemic. 

Alternative, remote methods, were also falling short; families had limited access to the internet, and children, often shy and self-conscious of their speech difficulties were not responding well to interviews. 

To overcome these challenges, I created a series of asynchronous, non-verbal activities, such as card-sorting and A/B testing that could be shared over WhatsApp.


Patients were not engaged with the treatment resulting in the poor pictures being sent in as well as the high drop-out rate. 


2. Sarah and her Invisible Aligners

We addressed the miscommunication between nurses and families bu designing a fun and informative booklet called Sarah y sus Alienadores Invisibles


The main goals of this booklet were to

1. to repeat and document information shared in the office

2. demystify common questions such as how to properly maintain aligners

Journey Map with observations and Ideas

Based on this material, we decided to focus on

1. Proactively providing and documenting troubleshooting information

2. Improving picture quality via in-app, offline feedback loop for pictures 

3. Creating redundancy in info provided to drs/ remove reliance on pictures

From this activity, we learned that users did not know what a "good picture" meant


80% improvement in the quality of images sent by users

New Features:

1. Ideal picture reference

2. Picture-taking template

Example Activity: Card Sorting

The goal of this activity was to understand what families perceived as a “good picture”, months after being instructed by the medical staff.

... non- verbal research methods? 

Commonly used to overcome biases in user responses, these describe ways in which designers/ researchers collect information without directly talking to users. In other words, establishing communication that is independent on spoken language. 

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