Routine NInja

Routine Ninja is an app that motivates teenagers to manage their Type 1 Diabetes by providing positive rewards.

Project Objective

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Is a 24/7 disease that requires constant management and people aged 12-25 have poor blood glucose control.

Routine Ninja is my individual senior thesis project at California College of the Arts, and Adelie Health is my client. Routine Ninja is an easy to use app that motivates teenagers to manage their Type 1 diabetes by providing positive rewards such as gift cards and food.

My Role

UX/UI Design
Usability Testing
Video Editting


Adelie Health




8 months


Kate Rutter
Gretchen Anderson

Project Background

Adelie Health is an start-up using insights from behavioral economics to help people with diabetes manage their condition.

In this 8 month thesis collaboration, I worked with Adelie Health to develop an iOS mobile application called Routine Ninja to help young people with Type one diabetes (T1D) to improve diabetes management using incentives.

The challenge

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a 24/7 disease that requires constant management and people aged 12-25 have very poor blood glucose control.

T1D is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Approximately 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes. Teenagers with T1D feel demotivated, are easily distracted and often forget to check their blood glucose. This can cause their parents to feel anxious and worried.

The Solution

Routine Ninja is an app that motivates teenagers to manage their T1D by providing positive rewards.

Routine Ninja is an easy to use app that motivates teenagers to manage their Type 1 diabetes by providing positive rewards such as gift cards and food. Parents set up a blood glucose (BG) check-in challenge and reward, then send it to their children. Teens accept and complete the challenge.

For Parents

Set up challenge and send invitation

T1D is also tough for parents who worry about whether their child is looking after their diabetes. Patients parents also expect to ease the diabetes management. Routine Ninja provides 8 different rewards such as gift cards, cash, food and screen time to motivate young teens to check their BG.

For Teens

Check blood glucose and enter the number to check in

Doctors recommend teens to check their blood glucose four times a day to maintain good control. It’s especially hard for teens to do this and Routine Ninja uses a reward system to motivate them to do so.

If the BG is not in range, Routine Ninja will provide suggestions to help them take appropriate actions afterwards.

For Teens

Complete challenge and receive reward!

Rewards can encourage good behaviors. The check in process makes checking your blood glucose more engaging. This motivates teens and reduces stress for parents.


We are using TestFlight for beta testings. Parents and teens said Routine Ninja is not only helpful for diabetes management, but also provides more positivities for their life.

💪 64%

of beta testers liked the idea and said
it is motivational

👏 78%

of beta testers said Routine Ninja is
really simple to use

OVERALL Proccess

Engineers had already built the MVP before I joined. My main responsibility is to undertake user research including interviews (alongside Liam), collate and interpret user feedback, iterate the UX, and liaise with the app developer to communicate required iterations to app build. During this 8 months, I did 15+ primary interviews, 15+ usability tests, and 8 design iterations, testing with 118 users.


Research overview

Within the duration of 8 months, I engaged with 15 teens with T1D and parents through semi-structured interviews, and structured interviews. Working with Adelie Health closely allows me to understand this industry and narrow down the problem area.


Understanding Type 1 Diabetes and the market

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but occurs most frequently in children and adolescents. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body produces very little or no insulin, which means that you need daily insulin injections to maintain blood glucose levels under control.

During the first few weeks of our project, after syncing up with Adelie Health, I dove into the problem space with background research. My goal was to get a deeper understanding of T1D and the current market before kicking-off any customer interviews .


By 2050, 5 million people are expected to be diagnosed with T1D.

> 2/3

> 2/3 of people with T1D can't consistently achieve target blood-glucose control levels.


Approximately 1.25 million Americans have T1D.

Competitive analysis

People with T1D require regular blood glucose monitoring and a healthy lifestyle to manage their condition effectively.

There are tons of diabetes management apps focusing on blood glucose data tracking. But how can an app track data without entering the data? Checking their blood glucose constantly is hard for young teens, so Routine Ninja aims to focus more on behavior modification.

Behavior modification > data tracking


Following our customer interviews, we synthesized our findings and were able to create a customer journey and persona which were presented and discussed with the client. These exercises formed a great foundation to move into feature ideation and prioritization.

Identifying pain points and goals

“I just want to be like others, being able to have desserts and play sports. I'm done with calculating carbs all the time.”

Tim, a teen with T1D

“My motivation is just wanting to make sure that he can take care of himself before he goes to college.”

Joan, a mom of a T1D teen


DESIGN overview

After 2 months of customer research and stakeholder alignment, I started by evaluating the current design and identifying opportunity areas in the next 6 months. While Adelie Health was using the MVP to test out their core idea, I started parallel designing and prototyping to advanced their MVP by 8+ design iterations and 28 usability tests. These sessions helped us to validate our intuitions, inform design iterations, and ensure that we were building the right product that serves our customers needs.

Design focus

Starting design by asking questions

After eventuating current design, research learnings and clients' needs, I identified deep focus opportunities in the following key areas that would add the most value:

How might we provide the right reward for teens?

How might we ease The on-boarding process?

How might we create a meaningful dashboard?

Design iterations

How might we ease the on-boarding process?

How can users set up a challenge is our biggest question and the best way to solve this is talking to our customers and design experts. After 4 design iterations, 15+ usability tests, and 5 expert interviews 60% of them suggested parents should take take the initiative to set up the challenge. So, I iterated the design and finalized the on-boarding flow.

Iteration 1.0: parents and teens sit with one another and set up challenge together.
Problem: still need to consider the situation that parents and teens are not together.

Iteration 2.0: teens request a reward, parents approve and set up check-in requests
Problem: flow is very scattered, and it requires too much effort from the teen's side

Iteration 3.0: a step by step guide helps the parents set up challenge
Problem: interactions might vary depending on rewards options, need to change the third screen.

Final design: parents follow the step by step guide to set up the challenge including check-in requests, rewards, and the teens' contact info.

Design iterations

How might we provide the right reward for teens?

The initial concept of Routine Ninja was using cash to motivate young teens. But as we talk to more and more people, we found out that parent's have mixed feelings about using money as an incentive. During the conversation, they also gave us a lot of inspiration such as gift cards, movie tickets, and food. Apparently, the flexibility of different reward options is needed.

Iteration 1.0: a wish list allows users to enter any rewards they want.
Problem: 1. people don't want to type every time. 2. not enough options.

Iteration 2.0: money/cash
Problem: parents have mixed feelings about money and they expect other options as well.

Iteration 3.0: cash, concert ticket, family movie, gift card, etc.
Problem: 1. prioritize gift card then cash. 2. add food, toys, and allow users to have customizable options.

Final design: 8 different reward options including gift cards, cash, movies, concert tickets, food, toys, screen time and others.

Design iterations

How might we create a meaningful dashboard?

The Dashboard is always a crucial element as it captures every detail of the blood glucose check-in progress. I was aware that a lot of information was missing on the dashboard, so the information presentation is the core of this dashboard redesign. Comparing to other diabetes app's heavy data monitoring, we want to focus more on the "reward and achievement" as we are focusing on young teens.

Iteration 1.0: the initial design only has limited information.
Problem: need more tracking and history data.

Iteration 2.0: add more detailed info and separate them into different sections. 
need a better way to visualize the current progress.

Iteration 3.0: dashboard separates to two parts -- current challenge progress and challenge history.
Problem: 1. missing check-in data is missing. 2. inaccurate progress bar design. 3. unclear badge design.

Final design: Current challenge progress and previous challenge history are shown on the dashboard. Routine Ninja also uses the reward system such as badges to motive the teens BG check-in.


Mapping out the end-to-end flow for both parents and teens

Through the use of prototypes, usability tests, and calls with Adelie Health to determine what processes made sense at an extremely granular level, I came up with a user flow while iterating the final designs.

Parent flow

Teen flow

Viusal deisgn guide

Unifying the design guideline

T1D is hard for both parents and teens and Routine Ninja aims to provide motivation for teens. I continued to use Routine Ninja's theme color and created this visual design guide for front-end developers as references.


Communicating our concept

Not everyone is familiar withe Type 1 diabetes. So, it's important to introduce the background problem of T1D and how Routine Ninja solves the need. Routine Ninja uses incentives for young teens to check their blood glucose. This will improve health outcomes for the them and reduce anxiety for their parents.


Prototyping the core Experience

Routine Ninja is an app with a two-sided experience.

Parent's on-boarding (left prototype): 1. Parents decide blood glucose check-in requirements. 2. Select reward. 3. Send to their daughters or sons.
After teens complete the challenge: parents will need to give the reward.

After parents send out the challenge (right prototype): 1. Teens accept challenge. 2. Check in BG everyday as required.

“I like what you are doing. Parents also need motivation and emotional encouragement. ”

Dan, a dad of teen with type 1 diabetes

“It's pretty motivational for me.”

Joan, a 15-year-old with type 1 diabetes


Hatching a more completed product

It's important to develop the MVP, but tweaking it's nuances are also very important. We have learned so much at school of how to come up with features that solves the problem, but what about the next product building process? Working on one project for 8 months gave me a lot of time for design evaluation, iterations and this is essential in the design process.

Working on a real-world product

Adelie Health is a start-up company, which provides a great condition for incubating a brand new product. Everything moves fast, which helped me think fast too. As a group of experts in the Healthcare industry, Adelie health taught me so much about this industry and I was able to meet so many inspiring people. It's my pleasure to see that my senior thesis project can help T1D patients and their families in the near future.

“Claire’s input over the last 8 months has been invaluable. She demonstrated a real eagerness to understand the user problem, which is especially important in healthcare. Claire's empathy shone throughout her work and we’ve now implemented her design into our latest version. Claire was great to work with and helped us build a better product." —— Liam Mc Morrow

Special thanks to Gretchen Anderson and Kate Rutter for their guidance in my senior thesis, Liam Mc Morrow and Miguel Maquieira from Adelie Health for their help in collaboration.

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