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Making the blood donation process less draining through insight-led digital design

    Audience Understanding Innovation Workshop Rapid Prototyping

When the pandemic hit in the UK, blood donations dropped rapidly. Despite the return to normal life, the NHS estimates that it is still 75,000 donors short of what it needs to recover from pre-pandemic levels with it’s pool of donors at the smallest it’s been for 25 years.

As a team of designers, strategists and researchers, we came together to to look at how we could respond to this real-life challenge by encouraging blood donation and improving the donor journey for those looking to give blood in the UK.

We conducted firsthand research with current and potential donors to gain a better understanding of the motivations and challenges that existed around blood donation. Then, using these insights, we designed a new prototype app that would simplify the booking process and offer new benefits or features to enhance the donor experience.

The new app was received positively by users, with 70% saying it would improve the blood donation process during our final stage testing. By introducing new features such as an in-app chatbot, ‘Bloodscore’ reporting, and an appointment tracking dashboard, we were able to create a more seamless, engaging and motivating digital experience for donors.


  • 70% of users said the app would make the blood donation process easier

  • Newly introduced features such as ‘Bloodscore’ would motivate users to donate

  • A quick, easy and convenient onboarding process enabled seamless registration and booking

Conducting user research to better understand barriers to blood donation

The first step in the process was to conduct user research to better understand people’s motivations and challenges around giving blood.

We created an online survey and gathered responses from from 120 people. The survey took users on different question depending on whether they had or hadn’t given blood before in order to discover the reasons behind their answer, and the positives and negatives of the process.

Generating ideas collaboratively in an Innovation Workshop

Next, we took the findings from our user research into an Innovation Workshop — an opportunity for the team to collaboratively develop innovative ideas into plans for a prototype in a short amount of time using practical exercises and research.

Project Recap

We recapped the learnings from our user research, aligned on goals for the workshop, ran through a full customer experience journey of the current blood donation process.

How Might We’

The ‘How might we’ approach helps teams to phrase challenges in a way that helps you to come up with solutions. For example ‘How might we make the process of booking an appointment easier for people?’ 


Workshop participants were allotted time to begin ideation around how we could innovate to improve the process of donating blood, making notes or sketches of specific ideas. 


As a group, we voted on our favourite ideas, features and concepts to take forward to the sketching phase. The most popular ideas were:

  • Offering a simultaneous blood check up: donors would receive insights about their blood health as well as helping save lives.

  • Get support from an in-app virtual assistant: creating a human-like bot that would support donors from the booking stage through to the donation.

  • Easier booking: optimising the booking journey to create a simpler experience, and introducing reminders.

  • Tracking data: tracking of donation history that gives donors badges when they have donated a certain number of times.


The ideas and user journeys we’d agreed on were roughly sketched out as app screens, annotating different features to demonstrate the concept.

Workshop outcomes

We finished the workshop with a number of solutions to the challenges identified within our user research sketched out and ready to design digitally.

Learn more about Innovation Workshops and how they can help your teams.

From ideation to execution: Designing the new app prototype

Using the sketches and ideas from the workshop, our design team created a prototype of our new blood donation app that would offer a seamless user experience and minimise the difficulties that donors face during the blood donation process.

It was important to give the app a friendly feel so that it could guide and comfort users and help alleviate anxieties at each step of the process — acting as a virtual hand-holder that the nurse would then become at the point of the physical donation.

We designed an in-app bot, named ‘Carey’, with a friendly tone of voice and personality to act as a personal assistant to users, guiding and comforting them to help alleviate anxieties at each step of the process. The bot would integrate with popular messaging platforms such as Whatsapp or Facebook messenger to seamlessly align with users’ existing digital habits and preferences.

The new Dashboard feature helps users keep track of appointments and more easily find a time that works, as well as motivating users by showing them the impact they’re having by donating.

The prototype also included the Bloodscore feature, which provided users with information about their blood type and health. As people increasingly seek visibility their health using digital tools, this extra information offered further motivation to donate.

We tested our prototype designs with real users to find out whether it would resonate and help overcome challenges around blood donation. We sought qualitative feedback to understand their experience of the app, and what they liked and disliked.

The key insights gained were:

By seeking firsthand user insight and incorporating these findings throughout the design process, we created a new prototype app that could improve blood donation rates and help reduce the gap between demand and supply in the UK.

To learn more about how we can help you improve engagement with your digital products or services through research, design and strategy, get in touch.

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