We Are Blood: Insights and Understanding

Without blood donors, 4.5 Million people in America alone would die each year. Every day, 32,000 pints of blood are used to help people live. We Are Blood works every day to ensure Central Texas has enough blood product to cover the needs of all of its residents. We chose to work with We Are Blood for this reason; they provide an invaluable service to the community and need help realizing their goals. They recently underwent a rebrand, hoping to show people their commitment to the community. Their mission is “To provide and protect the community blood supply, to inspire Central Texans to save lives locally, and to always treat everyone we serve as family.” Through our research, we found that often, first time donors do not feel like family, however, and do not feel the communal tie to return. This is the biggest barrier we see for We Are Blood, not only for capturing their more repeat donors, but also capturing a wider new donation base to draw from.

Our research with We Are Blood has centered on understanding the thoughts and feelings of donors while donating, and their emotional connection to blood donation. We have had a variety of responses ranging from first time donors to career platelet donors working to make as many donations as possible in a year’s time. We heard that people want to feel connected to the recipient in some way and would like to know what their blood is being used for ultimately. This is one of the larger opportunities we have found to increase the satisfaction of donors, whether for their altruistic feeling, or to make the result of their donation more tangible.

This disconnect is fueled by multiple pain points within the process of blood donation itself. As stated above, we spoke with consistent donors and found that their reasons for donating were largely similar. Most of our participants spoke to the good feelings or good karma that comes from donating blood. They also called out their understanding for the continuous need for blood donation. On the side of first time donors, we found they did not have these connections or feelings. They felt uncomfortable or that there was no incentive for them to return. The opportunity here is to capture the empathy of these donors so they feel connected enough to consistently donate their time and blood for a cause larger than themselves. We Are Blood tries to connect with people on this level, employees try to provide the feeling of familial welcome, undoubtedly donors who feel welcome and comfortable return more consistently than those who do not.

Our work to date has centered on interviewing these donors and employees at the donation center and making sense of their words and finding patterns between the donors. We have been looking at the motivation for people to donate, what brings people back, and their feelings on the process of donation itself. We have found several key points where we believe opportunity has presented itself. In our design brief, we have outlined these as key insights into the process and into our research. These three insights frame our mindset around the problem We Are Blood is having with the disconnection between their mission and the donor’s view of the process. Our perceived customer journey when juxtaposed with the actual customer journey that we have observed, highlights the divergence of the intended process and the actual progression.


Artboard 1

Customer Journey Map copy 2


The design brief—We Are Blood Design Brief 2—we have created details the key quotes that impacted our research, and framed our thinking around the insights we reached during our sense making, or synthesis, process. Just to reiterate, we heard from both first time and long-time donors, as well as employees to understand the experience from as many angles as possible. We found consistent patterns in our research; for instance donors consistently stated their distaste for the repetition of the screening process for each donation, and the amount of information presented in the documentation before taking the questionnaire. Most participants also added their understanding for the necessity of the questionnaire and documentation, but questioned it’s continual necessity for repeat donation. A few employees echoed this sentiment stating: “If I could do anything, I would change the questionnaire, I would just make it say if anything has changed since your last donation? And leave it at that because that part takes the longest. I just want to stick people and be done with it.” A few donors also had trouble with the travel deferral process, they understand the need to ensure the safety of the blood supply, but were also frustrated with the long wait times for staff to confirm where they travelled to was a ‘safe zone’ for donation. At times, this process can take 15 minutes just for approval with the calls and confirmations that are required.

Beyond the check-in process, we had a few participants call out their lack of understanding or expectation with the donation process. While many people know the gist of donating blood, they are not close enough to know the full journey, nor the nuances of what phlebotomists are doing, and while magic can be whimsical, when it involves needles and pain on the part of the participant, it seems that clarity and transparency would be the better route. We did find something a bit comical from the pain side of the process; most donors consider the finger prick they get while having their iron levels checked the more painful part of the entire donation. Whether this is because of the level of build-up that leads to the finger prick vs the climactic quality of the actual needle stick for donation is difficult to parse, but this we found this anecdotal piece comical.

We are excited to move forward into our ideation and prototyping. Taking the principles we have gathered from our insight statements and creating solutions abiding by these principles is our next step. We look to the future to create a well rounded and well thought out solution to assist We Are Blood with their mission and future.