• Aimee Tasker

The Experience Design Teardown of Giving Blood

What inspires us to do what we do?


For me, it’s simple, I want to design things better and add value to people’s lives.


In Simon Sinek’s Start With Why TED talk he discusses the importance of authenticity, trust and meaning for people; he also states how as a company everything we say and do is a symbol of who we are. We can show this through the type of clients we work with — those that are customer focussed with clear purpose.


Whilst working at Common Good, a design studio based in Manchester, we wanted to get in touch with the NHS Blood and Transplant service and see how we could help. We also believed in challenging ourselves in how we work so having just read the Google Venture’s Sprint book it seemed like a great opportunity to try a few new tools and activities along the way.


Why the NHS?


Our initial interest stemmed from a blog posted by Aaron Powell, NHSBT’s new Chief Digital Officer. What Aaron was talking about grabbed our attention and resonated as a set of ambitions we’d be excited in helping NHSBT achieve… it was hard to ignore.



“Our purpose is to save and improve lives. Our ambition is to be the best organisation of our type in the world”

NHSBT’s purpose and values were clear, simple and something we immediately aligned to:

  • Caring about our donors, their families, our staff and the patients we serve

  • Being expert in meeting the needs of our external and internal customers and partners

  • Providing quality products, services and experiences for donors, staff and patients


The challenge was to discover how these values were being realised in the experience of Giving Blood?


What did we do?


Lots! We gave ourselves a one week timeframe, so we had to be quick, focussed and keep it high-level. The week ended up looking something like this…



Before the Sprint three members of the team signed up and ventured off to donate and document their experiences. Without this simple user insight we would have been making too many assumptions. The team’s experiences proved integral to gaining understanding around the opportunity in front of us.


Due to self imposed time constraints we didn’t have time to complete our usual process of research but we wanted to ensure we didn’t go into ideation blind, we wanted to speak to more customers and understand their experiences, both good and bad. So we put together a Typeform survey to understand people’s barriers to giving blood.



A key insight to come back was that “The whole set up (each time I have been) seems quite archaic and geared up for pensioners rather than younger people.” Having discovered the numbers of donors have decreased by a [pretty] huge 40% in the past decade we knew we couldn’t focus solely on a one-off digital solution. It was clear the whole experience needed fixing.


We started to understand the problems and barriers to donating blood from people and we began to cluster themes in order to find patterns.



We defined key areas of focus and our long-term goal:

  • To get the right people to give blood at the right time (this stemmed from certain blood types being needed at short notice)

We created a proto-persona to understand more about the target audience and guide our thinking. Everyone in the team needed to understand & empathise with who we were designing for.



We decided on a couple of questions to keep tuning in to as we followed the structure of the days:

  • How can designing a better experience encourage more people to give blood?

  • How can we simplify the experience and remove barriers to giving blood?



These questions alongside the key themes gave us a sound starting point for ideation. So we started sketching… and sketching… and sketching…



We constantly reminded ourselves of the design challenge and voted on ideas or parts of ideas we thought best answered it. The results came in and we had three clear areas of the journey to prototype and conceptualise — the registration, the waiting experience and communications.


At this point we got stuck — we were doing a product design sprint for an experience design teardown, it was difficult! We didn’t have a specific platform to focus on — we had a system of services to reimagine. It was a good thing to get stuck, it made us stop and reassess what was happening and where we were going. It made us dig deeper into how we could run a more effective design sprint week for an experience teardown. It was also great to see that as a team we didn’t panic. We stopped, reflected and considered the approach instead of just driving forward without a clear strategy.


Once we were back on track we split into teams to divide and conquer and began creating low fidelity prototypes and visual concepts to test and eventually share with the NHS Blood and Transplant service.



The registration process was simplified to remove barriers to beginning the journey to donate.


The physical experience concepts were designed to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of comfort and safety.



The communications before and after donating were reimagined on a different platform. All done super quick and based on existing touchpoints in the donor’s journey.



These prototypes were tested with existing and potential donors to gather feedback gain further insight. It was quick and guerrilla-style remote testing.


We ended up with lots of great insight, ideas and understanding to take to the NHS Blood and Transplant service.


What did we learn from the sprint?


After the sprint we had a debrief in order to understand what was Good, Bad, Ugly and Amazing. We found themes in each area and made decisions about what we needed to Stop, Start and Continue doing in these sprints.


Here’s a few of our key insights:

  • Enter a sprint with a clear focussed problem not a full service or system

  • Learn by doing

  • Being pushed out of our comfort zone is good

  • One size doesn’t fit all — know when to pivot

  • It’s hard to try and do everything, simplify

  • We can achieve lots and get significant work from a sprint (amazing!)

  • It’s great to solve problems we are passionate about


It was great to focus on improving the experience of giving blood in order to help save lives…. it feel great to do meaningful and fun work!

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