Intervene in a system to improve life for someone with type 1 diabetes


Focus areas

  • Design research
  • Systems thinking
  • Visual design


  • Diagrams
  • Maps
  • Wireframes
  • Mockups

My design process in theory

My design process in reality

Understanding who I am designing for

After interviewing my cousin who has type 1 diabetes, and conducting a few hours of secondary research, I defined the following persona.


  • 27 years old
  • Lives in Amsterdam
  • Studies business
  • Has type 1 diabetes

FreeStyle Libre

Since Kim’s pancreas does not produce insulin, her body’s cells can’t turn glucose (sugar) into energy. In order to measure and adjust her blood glucose levels, Kim wears a FreeStyle Libre sensor on her upper arm.

Understanding how she manages her blood glucose levels

Kim is pretty confident about what her blood glucose levels need to be and how to manage them. However, the FreeStyle Libre sensor is very visually prominent, and draws a lot of unwanted attention. Moreover, the measurements on the FreeStyle Libre App aren’t always accurate, and lag about ten minutes.

Understanding what her support network looks like

When it comes to her support network, Kim can rely on her friends and family, as well as  healthcare professionals. She also receives support from, and provides support to, social media and volunteering events.

Understanding what her day-to-day looks like

Kim measures and adjusts her blood glucose levels every hour, before having a meal, and before going to bed. The reason why Kim takes such frequent measurements, is because everything she does has an effect on her blood glucose levels and vice versa.

Defining major pain points and opportunities

When creating support network and feedback diagrams, as well as concept and user journey maps, no major pain points or opportunities stood out to me. When talking to my advisor however, I realized that I was in fact onto something: measuring and adjusting your blood glucose levels at least once an hour is a lot.

Pain points

“The measurements with the FreeStyle Libre are not always accurate and lag about 10 minutes.”

“The FreeStyle Libre sensor is very visually prominent which draws a lot of unwanted attention.”

“Everything I do has an effect on my blood sugar levels and vice versa, which causes me a lot of anxiety. Even if I do everything ‘right,’ my blood glucose levels could still be too high for no reason.”


How might we make Kim’s glucose sensor less visually prominent?

How might we show Kim more accurate and timely measurements?

How might we reduce Kim’s stress and anxiety around measuring and adjusting her blood glucose levels?

Ideating system interventions

Before jumping right into wireframes, I created a concept map of Kim’s current condition and care including (data) objects and relationships. I then added, changed, and removed components until I arrived at a system that addressed the major pain points and opportunities.

Creating wireframes

By taking advantage of Apple’s very well-documented Human Interface Guidelines, I was able to quickly visualize the potential new features of Apple’s Health App.

Mocking up screens

By replacing Kim’s FreeStyle Libre sensor with a needle (implemented under her skin), she won’t be drawing any unwanted attention anymore.

Integrating the needle with the Apple Health App, will make it feasible for Kim’s health data (including her blood glucose levels) to be continuously and accurately measured.

By sending Kim push notifications whenever her blood glucose levels are too high, too low, rising quickly, or falling quickly, she won’t have to feel as anxious or stressed anymore.

Scenario 1: low blood glucose levels

Kim has been running errands all morning and receives a push notification on her iPhone saying that her blood glucose levels are too low (along with an explanation of why this might be the case and a suggestion of how to adjust them). When she unlocks her phone, she sees the exact measurement of her blood glucose levels, as well as a graph with measurements of the entire morning.

Scenario 2: quickly rising blood glucose levels

Kim’s out for dinner with her best friend and receives a push notification on her Apple Watch saying that her blood glucose levels are rising quickly (along with an explanation of why this might be the case and a suggestion of how to adjust them). When she unlocks her Apple Watch, she sees the exact measurement as well as the rate of change of her blood glucose levels.

Proposing next steps

The logical next step would be to invite feedback from my cousin, or someone else that fits Kim’s persona. The main focus would be whether the concept map is in line with people’s mental model, and whether the new features would in fact reduce stress and anxiety.