Design for Practice 

The practice I observed was herbalism also referred to as medicine-making. I attended a one day medicine making course at Homestead Atlanta in addition to conducting research on the field. During, the sessions and research I learned the importance of understanding how the human body works, measurements, and knowing what herbs work well with one another. The insights I gained from this process allowed me to create design guidelines and a prototype. The prototype is an application that helps herbalist easily document and label the medicines they have made. 

Process

To engage in the practice, I attended a 4-hour medicine making course held at Homestead Atlanta. There were about 12 participants which consisted of men and women. The beginning of the class Lorna Mauney-Brodek discussed the mission of her company Herbalista, which is to provide medical assistance for individuals throughout Georgia. One of the reasons she became interested in herbalism was it allowed her to combine activism with interest in herbal remedies. She expressed the importance of using natural herbs to heal the human body. More importantly, natural herbs provide many individuals who cannot afford medicines with other resources or solutions. We discussed the uses of several herbs which included: Ginger, Monarda, and Echinacea. Lorna emphasized how everyone’s body responds differently to herbs. She also discussed the importance of writing down the ingredients/mixtures and properly labeling the materials. These provide ways to easily track when a medicine has expired and to meet regulations implemented by states.

After attending the class and conducting research I developed the following observations and insights on the practice of herbalism.

  1. Herbs can have a negative or positive effect on the human body

  2. Tincture ratios are important in developing a medicine that is beneficial to the body

  3. Documentation and labeling are used to track expiration dates and for precautions in case an issue occurs with the body

  4.  Each herb is used for different symptoms or illnesses

  5. Regulations and restrictions for herbalist vary among states

  6. Apprenticeship is extremely beneficial in developing yourself within the practice and understanding how different herbs work together

  7.  Herbalism is extremely different than pharmaceuticals

  8. The process is hands-on and requires you to be fully engaged in making sure the measurements are precise

Design Guidelines 

The observations and insights have inspired the following guidelines for the practice of herbalism. Applications for herbalism should consider the following:

  1. Simplistic and Clear: the design solution should not be tedious or hinder the process. The tools designed for the practice should be easy to navigate and implement within the process.  Having an interface that is user friendly and requires limited directions is useful and developing for practice.

  2. Personalized for skill level: the tools should consider the level of ability and skill of herbalist within the field. Herbalist come from various backgrounds and different ways of implementing techniques. The design should consider how certain individuals would respond differently with the material. 

  3. Does not interfere with state regulations: The United States has varying restrictions for herbalist based on state. The tool should not have a negative impact on those guidelines.

  4. The tool is interactive and flows with the hands-on practice: the tool created for this process should be interactive and flow well with the process.

  5.  Interview Herbalist: meet with herbalist in your area to understand about their personal experiences and challenges with working in the practice. Meeting with these individuals allows you to test your product, receive valuable feedback and insights on how this can possibly impact the practice.  

  6. Understand the education process to become an herbalist: the process to become an herbalist is also a key importance in understanding the tools implemented within the field. Should provide a guide or resource on the effects of herbs to the human body. 

  7. Collaboration: the practice of herbalism is built on learning from others and passing information down to others. The design should consider how the tool could encourage herbalist within the field to keep in dialogue with one another.

  8. Understand the role of the human body, measurements, and herbs: designers should understand how the field of herbalism is made up of several concepts and roles. the background of the field and the key elements of creating herbal remedies.   

  9.  Build-Upon the Practice: herbalism is an ancient field that has existed for over many centuries and transcends cultures. The tool created for the field should allow an advancement within the field and be applicable across cultures.     

 Prototype

 The observations on the practice and design guidelines allowed me to develop an application known as HERB LOG. The application is designed for smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices. The application allows herbalist with the ability to easily create logs on medicines with corresponding labels for jars. The application also provides resources on topics correlating to herbalism that can be saved to the users account. 

To see more prototypes of application
 design click here: