Choosing Wellness

The business stakeholders at Choosing Wellness gave a proposal to set up the site from scratch and I started with detailed immersive research into health and wellbeing. The initial site set up was with the program managers and engineers at WordPress, followed by my work to bring in writers. This involved 1:1 meetings, to talk about what this work encompassed.

As part of my user research conducted heuristic analysis of other related apps like My Fitness Pal, 7-minute workout, Fooducate, iPhone health-app, U-Biome, 3TandAi in an effort to log and use the devices to keep things in check. 

This exploration of how physical health is connected to a family, a school and the larger community but also to the planet as a whole. Sociology as a primary source of knowing the world thus became about looking at wellness in a holistic manner- individual, family, schools, community, planet, all of which are connected. The approach to study the users of wellness, the people to share their stories and Choosing Wellness does that.

Issues that trouble us, make us wonder what is the right thing to do and what is the right way to think about an issue- gender equity, traditional forms of ways of life, LGBTQ rights, the minimum wage workers and those below the poverty levels or the economically and socially disadvantaged segment of the population.

Choosing Wellness is about sharing the people’s wellness stories- about physical health, but simultaneously social and psychological wellbeing, about a community’s health. It is a way to navigate these issues and make sense of them through the stories and experiences of individuals.

I believe that the one-size-fits-all model for wellness doesn’t work. The struggles related to health have nuances that a simple usability test may not reveal. People learn from stories of others’ struggles the types of problems that they faced, the interventions that were utilized and the outcomes and overcoming of problems. This is what I am making an effort with CW.

Published by Hema Malini

I am a trained sociologist and an archival researcher. I am the principal investigator for an archival research project on the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad and also founder of choosingwellness.org. I also go by my other name Malini. I am a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I use the term community researcher, immersive researcher to talk about the work I do. In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders. The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.

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