Zika Project Design

Our objective for this project was to educate sexually active males in Miami-Dade and Broward county about the Zika virus. Males have been shown in studies to show less concerned with pregnancy than women, which may help to perpetuate the spread of Zika & microcephaly in South Florida. By educating and focusing on this demographic, this would improve lives in general as women that become pregnant and contract Zika, their children have a higher probability of having microcephaly. In using VR technology, we created a hybrid wireframe and prototype for a VR experience that educates about Zika and safe sex practices using Invision hotspots.

An Introduction Video Pitch to our Informative Zika Virtual Reality Experience

We are targeting this market as the Zika virus has found a concentration in neighborhoods that have higher STD rates which is an ideal area for its spread. Miami-Dade County and Broward County, to the North, are frequented by both locals and tourists for recreation and business. By focusing on a group that would be unresponsive during this epidemic, Zika information and safe sex practices would educate and also help reduce the spread of other STDs.

Research & Design

To further understand the problem we conducted four human-centered design exercises. These exercises helped us to figure out our exact audience and the problem as a whole.

Our first step in research was to perform interviews with people in the community. Rori took on female subjects who live or visit the area. She interviewed a Washington D.C. resident who owns a house in the keys. She visits at least once or twice every 4 months and is concerned with the long-term effects of Zika as she would like to have a child someday. In order to prevent contracting the virus while here she says she simply uses bug spray and wears longer clothing at night. Rori’s second interview was with a Wynwood resident. While the entire community seemed to be worried about Zika in Wynwood, this UM student seemed particularly calm. She explained that all she really did was turn the air conditioning a bit cooler and brought her indoor plants outside so as to not have any standing water inside the house.

Two informal interviews were done to capture the personas closely. A heterosexual male and a homosexual male were asked about the storyboard message and interactions for feedback. They both have no children, are single, sexually active and use protection most of the time . The heterosexual male did show interest in parenting costs and how Zika would affect them but did not ask much about pregnancy. They were shown VR experiences using an Oculus Rift and were highly interested in the technology. The homosexual male pointed out that they were not concerned with Zika or its sexual transmission as the LGBT community has had to focus on HIV/AIDS. They also were not interested in the parental responsibility or costs. The VR experiences were highly celebrated and received.

Once we understood how the community was feeling we were able to move on to another exercise. In this exercise, we created an imaginary persona to further understand our audience. Our persona’s name is Gabriel Batman.

Gabriel is

  • 33-year old South Beach resident
  • Heterosexual
  • Lives with a homosexual roommate.
  • Actor
  • Spends time at nightclubs in Miami
  • Skateboarder
  • Not concerned at all with Zika as he feels he will not be getting anyone pregnant.
  • Uninformed about the effects of Zika and the fact that the virus can persist in blood, urine and semen for up to six months, so he is putting his sexual partners at risk

Further Analysis

Lastly, we did an exercise called abstract laddering. This exercise helped us focus more on the bigger picture rather than the specifics of the problem. Since we had already done the more specific tasks abstract laddering was a little tough as we had become used to focusing on our persona. However, in doing this activity we realized that males also worry about financial responsibilities when it comes to pregnancies, an idea we incorporated into our VR experience.


Audience Profile

Our design solution is aimed to target sexually active males as there may be a lower tendency to be concerned with female pregnancy. STDs are perceived to be a sign of infidelity and lack of responsibility by Latino males in one study researching HPV which is also thought to be a women’s only issue (Fernandez et al., 2009).

  • Fernandez, M., Mccurdy, S., Arvey, S., Tyson, S., Morales-Campos, D., Flores, B., Useche, B. Mitchell-Bennett, L., Sanderson, M. (2009). HPV knowledge, attitudes, and cultural beliefs among Hispanic men and women living on the Texas–Mexico border. Ethnicity & Health, 14(6), 607-624.

In another attempt to further understand our audience we completed a stakeholder mapping exercise as a class. We found this exercise extremely helpful in identifying what market we wanted to concentrate on.Stakeholders






Concept Map

By concept mapping, our experience we were able to depict relationships between different areas within the same subject matter.

Or primary label is our entire VR experience, and then it branches out to different aspects. The secondary branches are VR, data visualization, branding, women and men. Each of these branches off to further levels and some of them interconnect to show the relationships between the topics.zika-concept-map-page-1








Heuristic Review

Our heuristic reviews were crucial in understanding how to design an experience that is both well designed & informative. In doing our reviews we looked at other Zika virus resources and evaluated their usability from a nonbiased viewpoint.

Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • No visibility of system status as their website is not extremely interactive.
  • Updated frequently.
  • The user is able to navigate freely, and there are breadcrumbs to allow the user to go back and forth to different pages.
  • Breadcrumbs also assist in error prevention and recognition rather than recall as the user is able to navigate throughout the website without recalling what page they were just on.
  • Aesthetically is interesting and consistent.
  • Interesting infographics on the site that are comprehensive and informative.

Design Considerations

  • Zika mosquito – bigger than usual in VR so that it can be highlighted
  • A fully functional 360 environment
  • Floating panels with Zika information/pictures/ interactive panels for storytelling elements
  • Connect information to other STDs and sexual responsibility
  • Incorporate some type of humor as it is lost in other experiences (Lee et al., 2015)
    • Lee, J. Y., Slater, M. D., & Tchernev, J. ( 2015). Self-Deprecating Humor Versus Other-Deprecating Humor in Health Messages. Journal of Health Communication, 20,10, 1185-1195
  • Change habits using new technology
  • More research in Health Communication Theory message construction
  • Inoculation Theory – a dose of the message will have an effect, like a vaccine. We hope the VR experience will allow the user to be exposed to the message and although it may be a weaker introduction that a more informational approach we hope the user will take away information and confidence from the experience. According to the “Examining HPV Threat-to-Efficacy Ratios…” study, the message should be a strong “dosage” so that the severity of Zika’s sexual transmission is not lost by the experience. A careful balance between fear, severity and technological impression must be calibrated to the right “dosage” to maximize the effectiveness of the message.
    • Nick Carcioppolo , Jakob D. Jensen , Steven R. Wilson , W. Bart Collins , Melissa Carrion & Georgiann Linnemeier (2013) Examining HPV Threat-to-Efficacy Ratios in the Extended Parallel Process Model, Health Communication, 28:1, 20-28
  • One day expand the experience to not only men, but also women so that they are more knowledgeable about the ZIka virus.
  • Put the user in a natural environment as a metaphor to the birds & the bees
    Our concept map captures these elements which can later be prganized on a storyboard.


Our VR experience will begin with a mosquito buzzing around the 360 space. We are doing this in order to engage the user right at the start and get them used to the VR space. Then, they will be able to select different panels from floating panels. These are where the information will be presented. The first set of panels will be above a tree stump and then there will be a change in scenery. We plan on having simulated wind, swirling leaves and bees guide the user to turn around. This is not only to draw their attention to new information, it is also a metaphor for turning a new leaf. It is in these panels that the user will learn about the transmission, prevention and effects of the Zika Virus. Once the user is finished going through the panels they are to squash the Aedes aegypti mosquito with a tree branch from the experience.



We made the initial prototype using Adobe Illustrator and Invision. This prototype is more of a look at the interface. Our prototype is intended for Gear VR, so in designing for more interactivity we would indicate when the user should click through the prototype.

The ideal look and feel of the prototype would be low-poly with realistic elements. The realistic elements would be the mosquitoes. Below there is an inspiration photo, this is what we would like the experience to look like.

Image credit: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/stylized-low-poly-environment


Interactive Mockups

After feedback from our classmates, we made some changes to the prototype. Instead of using colored objects to create the prototype we decided it would be best to create a role prototype, where the user could see how things would work in the experience. We added more labels to the prototype in order to tell the prototype testers how to proceed.

The prototype we made is more of a role prototype– one that shows the architecture of the information and experience.

The prototype can be seen HERE.

User Flows

This screencast of our prototype demonstrates how the prototype works. There are many different paths the user could take, so we decided it was best to show all of them.

The user enters the experience by tapping on a button. This button could be in the center of the screen or they could just simply tap on the side navigation on the Gear to enter. Then, they are taken to another screen where an Aedes mosquito begins buzzing around the title and lands on the title. The user then needs to tap again to enter the experience. We decided to have them tap two times to enter in order to have them acclimated to the VR setting. For many, this would be their first time using VR so it is important that they feel comfortable when they begin.

Once the user has entered the experience they will be immersed into a 360 VR environment that will be designed to look like they are in nature. There will be a forest of trees behind them and there will be a clearing with a long tree and a tree stump. This is where they will interact with the environment.

Atop the tree stump, there will be cans spraying bug spray. The user will then click on these to access information about the mosquitoes that carry the virus, the history of the virus and the active Zika zones in the area. The lone tree will have flowers on it that the user will interact with

When the user is finished interacting with those panels there will then be simulated wind, leaves and bees blowing and flying in the opposite direction they are standing, signaling them to turn around to the tree.  The user will also have the option to interact with the bees in a sort of mini-game in which they can tap the bees and they will disappear. Our inspiration for the mini-game was wack-a-mole, so this experience will be similar.

Once the user has turned around the flowers on the tree will bloom, signaling the user to tap on them. The flowers contain information about the transmission of the Zika virus, prevention methods and the costs of raising a child with microcephaly. The last flower in the series will guide signal them to pick up a branch and squash a mosquito that is sitting on the tree stump. This concludes the VR experience.

To test the effectiveness of the experience we plan on conducting pre and post tests. Ideally, the feel of the experience would be a low-poly look and feel with realistic mosquitoes and bees.

Again, to view the full prototype please follow the link HERE.