Surfacing accessibility challenges in discovery research to design an online health literacy tool

Surfacing accessibility challenges in discovery research to design an online health literacy tool

Rural Women's Health Project
Project title
Fotonovelas —Discovery research for an online health literacy tool
User InterviewsDiscovery researchUX Research
Through discovery research, I built a base understanding of user challenges related to online access and device literacy in a rural community of Hispanic immigrants. I surfaced unique accessibility challenges and opportunities that informed my own end-to-end design of an online health literacy tool for a local non-profit.


UX Researcher, UX Designer


February-November 2020


User interviews

Secondary research


The fotonovela is a traditional narrative medium similar to a comic book that uses photographs to tell dramatic stories with a morale. The Rural Women’s Health Project has used printed fotonovelas for thirty years in community health education. Paper fotonovelas fail to reach users spread across a wide geographic area.

Research goal and objectives

Identify challenges rural Hispanic immigrants experience with finding health information online and identify design opportunities to increase accessibility
  • Conduct foundational research to understand target users
  • Conduct competitive analysis of other digital fotonovelas
  • Conduct secondary research on target users

Recruitment criteria and challenges

Target users were identified as Hispanic immigrants in rural Florida served by the Rural Women's Health Project
  • Only two primary users recruited directly, due to logistical challenges during onset of COVID-19
  • Five secondary users recruited from community organizations serving primary user population

User interviews

Example questions (written in English/Spanish):

  • What is your preferred language?
  • How long have you been in the USA?
  • What is the primary device you use to access the internet?
  • Can you describe a frustrating experience you have had with finding information online?

Secondary research

Consulting existing research (demographic, market and academic) afforded direct access to detailed information about similar users and purposes

Analysis and synthesis

I conducted affinity mapping to organize findings from primary and secondary research.


  • Hispanic residents in rural Levy County have limited access to internet-ready devices and the internet.
  • Hispanic residents in rural Levy County (and nationwide) prefer Spanish language and/or bilingual content.
  • Hispanic residents in rural Levy County generally find the English language as a significant barrier to information accessibility online.


  • A mobile-first website would serve time and data-limited users better than a mobile app.
  • Bilingual content increases accessibility and engagement to wider audience
  • A minimalist approach to site design - simplified navigation and interface, reduced animations and enhancements - will maximize accessibility to time and data-limited users.


Two personas
User journey map
User flow


  • Personas and journey mapping informed wireframing and UI design
  • Completed prototype delivered to client
See completed prototype and end-to-end design case study here


Recruiting primary users was a fail, due to multiple factors (logistics, COVID, cultural factors)
Non-primary participants were "experts"—health and device literate, highly educated—not representative of primary users.
Future recruiting would take place on site in the community with a community member as representative
Bilingual test design was insufficient
Translation of content is not sufficient to produce equitable access for participants. The research plan must be inclusive at all levels, including logistics for recruiting and test design. · Linked In · Resume · Medium