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How the Healthy Teen Network Design Challenge Inspired a Dating App Idea

Hear from some of the participants in Healthy Teen Network’s 3-day Design Challenge.

By Tiffany Tibbs Christensen, Taylor Herrigan, Ashley Stewart, and Camille Smith

February 13, 2020

What is the Healthy Teen Network Design Challenge?

The Healthy Teen Network Design Challenge is a 3-day deep dive into human-centered design. The challenge provides a unique opportunity to meet with health professionals from around the country and unleash your collaborative, creative energy on a relevant, sex education question.

Our question was: How might we equip young people to develop healthy sexualities and have pleasurable sexual lives in the cyborg era?

Be prepared for hands-on learning from experts in the field of innovation and research. I was amazed at the level of discovery that happened in such a short time, and how applicable human-centered design concepts are in my day-to-day work.

I consider my participation in the Healthy Teen Network Design Challenge as one of the most important professional development activities I’ve done this year. It’s an exciting way to spice up the conference experience and boost your creative thought. Everyone in the sex education and health field should give it a try!”


What did you know about the challenge beforehand? What were your expectations?

“I think it is fair to say that all of us knew that this challenge was going to be fun and exciting. We knew that we were going to have an opportunity to collaborate with a team of individuals of different backgrounds.

For me, this was my first time attending the Healthy Teen Network Conference. The design challenge piqued my interest and was highly recommended by my colleagues. I expected to learn, be challenged, and to network. I gained so much more than that. My own knowledge about what is human-centered design and what true collaboration looks like has grown exponentially. Before I knew it, a seed had been planted and here we are in the early stages of app development. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this challenge.”


What was the process of developing your idea?

“Quite a bit of brainstorming took place, in the beginning, to determine what we wanted our project to focus on and it quickly evolved after conducting one-on-one interviews with young adults that fit our target population.

Our question was: How might we equip young people to develop healthy sexualities and have pleasurable sexual lives in the cyborg era?

Due to the limited time we had to complete the challenge (2 days), we opted to interview people in our network which mostly took place using our phones. Our dialogue with them centered on hearing their experience using dating apps. Based on the qualitative data we collected, we grouped together our findings and began narrowing down what the priorities were for people on dating apps.

We discovered that safety was an important aspect of using dating apps, but safety was defined differently for people. We spent hours the day before we had to deliver the presentation on synthesizing the findings, identifying the concerns, designing our solution (the 3rd Wheel App concept) and developing our 5-min pitch (view the Facebook Live video of the group pitch for 3rd Wheel). It was a unique whirlwind of an experience, but one I would not trade.”


What is the team doing now?

“Although I don’t think any of us came into the conference or design challenge expecting it, we have decided to actually pursue developing the 3rd Wheel app. We were all so energized by the experience and connected to our mission that we want to use this opportunity to improve safety tools for young people who use dating apps. It’s all very exciting and challenging since we come from backgrounds in public health and social science rather than technology or business. We are in the very early stages of app development right now, but we feel prepared to take it on head first thanks to all of the support, lessons, and guidance from Healthy Teen Network.”



What features would YOU want in an app designed to increase online dating safety?

Want to learn more about how human-centered design can impact your work? Consider attending the Healthy Teen Network’s 2020 conference in Portland, Oregon, November 16-18.

Stay tuned for exciting news about how we’ll be re-working the design challenge for #HealthyTeen20 to bring this learning to even more attendees this year. In the meantime, our call for proposals is now open!

Tiffany, Taylor, Ashley and Camille were participants in Healthy Teen Network’s 2020 Design Challenge.