Capstone Project: BuzzSmart

A mobile application that helps young adults prevent binge drinking by using data, AI, location services, and smart notifications.

View Prototype


What is Buzzsmart?

A mobile app that uses AI and location data to understand user behavior, including frequented places, visit times, and binge drinking frequency. It offers personalized drink suggestions considering factors like weight, height, and BMI. It also uses smart notifications, reminding users to stay hydrated or arrange for a ride during their night out.

Project Summary

When I started this project, I was a bit intimidated by the problem space because drinking is an accepted social activity that most people engage in. One of my main concerns was: Do people who binge drink casually even think this is a problem? So, I started with secondary research to see the scope of this issue and later moved on to interviewing people using the Design Thinking methodology.

duration 10 weeks, my role end to end designer, project type, academic


The Design Thinking Method

Design Thinking is a method that keeps the user at the center of every design solution. It involves empathizing with the user, defining a problem, ideating solutions, testing, and reiterating.


The Problem

One of the first things I discovered while researching was that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes binge drinking  (drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks in less than 2 hours) as the most common and expensive pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. This behavior is most common amongst young adults ages 18-34.(1)

Some Shocking Statistics

As I continued my research, I found some shocking annual statistics(2) involving college students and alcohol abuse. Below are some just some of them:

are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape.
die from alcohol related unintentional injuries.
receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
met the criteria for an AUD (Alcohol use disorder).

So, why do we overdrink?

The Social Reason

[College students] The first 6 weeks of freshman year are the most vulnerable time for students to engage in heavy drinking due to: a new environment, being away from home, missing friends and family, or feeling lonely.(2)

The Scientific Reason

In short, dopamine makes us feel short-term pleasure and alcohol increases its production, making your brain want more. Unfortunately, alcohol simultaneously hinders other parts of your brain in charge of decision-making, speech, and coordination. That’s why it can often feel like it’s hard to stop once you start.(3)

Preliminary "How Might We"

After I had enough data from my secondary research, I wrote down a few different "How Might We" questions to start framing the problem space. From these, I chose the most compelling one and started my primary research in the form of interviews in order to get first hand accounts on this problem.

How might we help young adults limit their binge drinking during college in order to reduce the risks linked to alcohol abuse?

Primary Research

I conducted interviews on four different people within a specific demographic. By using the Affinity Mapping method and found three main themes between the four participants. Below, you will fin the participant criteria, some of the interview questions, and a snap shot of the affinity map.

One Common Theme: Unwanted Consequences

The most prevalent theme amongst all interviewees was experiencing unwanted consequences while overdrinking. Whether it was hangovers, driving tickets, or simply losing control of their behavior.

Impactful Interviewee Quotes

“I did not consent. So, because I was a inebriated, I woke up but I didn't have the agency to move and I tried to push them off.”
“Honestly, most of the times I drink heavily I've regretted it.”
“I think it was just a socialization thing. I was in a sorority. (...) And that was just kind of a fact of life. You didn't have an exam or something to get up early the next day. You’d go drinking on a Tuesday.”
“I wanted to be buzzed, like everyone else.”
“Yeah, I flunked out of engineering, lost my scholarships. Got set back like a year and a half in college, taking almost six years to graduate. So I think that sums it up.”
“other people are doing it that was just a social norm. There wasn't really much else to do besides partying.”

Part 2: DEFINE

Revised "How Might We"

I revised my "How Might We" question after conducting interviews and selecting a theme. The reason behind this revision was that the majority of interviewees don't seem to regret most of the times they drank, only the times where they experienced consequences. With this in mind, I created a different question and changed the tone of my project.

How might we help young adults who are actively trying to drink less avoid binging, in order to prevent hangovers?

Creating a Persona

Creating a persona to keep the user at the center of my design was key. As Jamie Levy puts it, just because you want a product it doesn't mean everyone else will. I created Connor, who is has a combination of pain points, motivations, and behaviors that all of my interviewees spoke about.

user persona of connor mctate, a 21 year old college student that struggles with binge drinking.

Scoping for Design Opportunities

I created an experience map of Connor’s current journey in order to visualize and document his interactions, making it easier to identify opportunities for design intervention in the most needed areas of his user experience.

Connor's current user experience when he is trying to study and his friends ask him to go out

Creating User Stories

User stories helped me put myself in the Connor’s shoes, determine what he needs, and understand how he would utilize technology to solve his pain points. Grouping these into epics of similar functionality helped me narrow down which features the app should include.

Connor's user story " as a young adult who wants to drink less, I want to set a limit for the month so that I can gin control of my drinking."

I created a list of 38 user stories that narrow down Connor's experience. Keeping in mind that he wants to go out and have fun, he just doesn’t want to do it in moderation to avoid negative effects. I narrowed them down to 4 functional epics and chose "Tracking & Reminders" as my main epic because best aligns with Connor's need.

View all user stories & epics

Current Solutions on the Market

Before I kept emerging myself on creating a solution for Connor, I wanted to see if there was any product on the market that was already addressing his issue. I downloaded some popular apps that help with drinking and realized that most of them are geared towards just tracking drinks, or quitting drinking completely.

side-to-side comparison of some current solutions on the market.

Task Flow

By merging various stories from the chosen epic, I created a the following task flow that will address Connor's needs:

user task flow to meet connor's needs

Part 3: IDEATE


Drawing inspiration from the UI board, I created 3 exploratory sketches per task flow screen in order to lay out different combinations of features and looks for each screen. From there, I chose the best option for usability and compiled my final set:


First Grayscale Prototype

I created a mid-fi wireframe version of the app to use for testing. Having these will help me test the product without the distraction or influence of colors, etc.

walk through screen
login screen
biometrics screen
drinking habits screen
goal setting screen
going out screen
recommendation screen
all set screen

Part 5: TEST


For best results, I conducted user testing on 5 different people within my target demographic. Users were given the following scenario:

  • You are trying to be more mindful of your drinking.
  • You have an important meeting tomorrow morning.
  • Today is your friend’s birthday, and you are all going to dinner.
View all testing parameters
testing on zoom
testing app via zoom and taking notes

Prioritizing Changes

After two rounds of user testing, I realized that the most important change I need to make is at the onboarding process, so that users have full clarity of what the app is for and what the features are.

  • Use welcome screen to explain more about the functions and point of the app.
  • Space out the “Drinking Habits” screen.
  • Make the notifications and tracking screen clear, with obvious buttons. Change verbiage.
  • Make “Going out tonight” screen more clear by making times and dates larger and changing iconography.
  • Make “Going out tonight” screen more clear by making times and dates larger and changing iconography.
  • Make “Going out tonight” screen more clear by making times and dates larger and changing iconography.
testing on zoom
prioritization matrix

Final Grayscale Prototype

With the app throughly tested for functionality, I was ready to inject color and create animations. At this stage, my iterations did not stop. After creating the final gray scale prototype you see before you, I realized there were still some issues with copy, iconography, and tone. So, I did some further user testing as I was playing with color to ensure the final product caters to the user's needs.

walk through screen
log in screen
biometrics screen
drinking habits screen
goal setting screen
notifications screen
going out screen
all set

Part 6: REFINE

Brand Development

Branding is crucial when it comes to getting a product to the target user. To start with development, I wrote down a list of adjectives that the brand should represent.

I narrowed it down to non-judgemental, caring, responsible, efficient, and grounded. With this words, I curated a mood board that reflected those words and extracted colors to create neighborhoods that reflected different feelings. From there, I chose my brand colors accordingly.

Final Color Choice

I chose yellow as my primary brand color because its a welcoming and warm color, but it also conveys caution. This will also be used as my "pop" color for the app's interface. My neutrals are black and white, both of which have a very small hint of the yellow.

The main issue I had when choosing this color is that it often presents accessibility issues when paired with white, so it will often be used paired with black or as an accent.

final brand colors

Brand Name & Wordmark

wordmark sketches

I initially used "BuzzSmart" as a placeholder brand name for user testing, and users spontaneously reacted positively to it.The word “smart” on the title gives the user autonomy and accountability.

word mark digital

Final Wordmark

word mark white on black
wordmark black on white
word mark color

UI Library

The UI Library is one of the 5 components of the Design System. Building a clear and robust UI Library is the best way to effectively communicate design decisions between cross-functional teams. For my UI Library, I used atomic design principles to showcase how each of the app's elements interacts.

To create the UI library for BuzzSmart, I used the Atomic Design method as explained below:

atoms - foundations of the design
molecules - input boxes, menus, etc
organism - patterns that repeat
templates - show generalized layout
pages - finalized version with specific content


After injecting color, I realized that some items where not accessible due to lack of contrast, specially the yellow/white components. I used the Stark and Contrast plug-ins to determine where the design needed to be improved for accessibility.

Full UI Library

color library
grids and spacing
buttons and chips

The Final Product Walkthrough

And finally, here is a walkthrough of what the final product. Thank you for taking the time to look at my process and all the work that went into creating BuzzSmart.

View Prototype

Marketing Website

I used a content-first approach to create a single-page, responsive marketing website for BuzzSmart. When it comes to marketing a mobile application, a marketing website is an effective way to drive downloads, create brand awareness, and build trust.

Case Study Coming Soon
marketing site mock-up


Final Thoughts

I learned many things while creating this concept from scratch in 10 weeks, including the value of time management, asking questions, and keeping the user at the center of my design. I did not shy away from reiterating multiple times and continued user testing well into the refining stage to ensure that the final product would be something users would find valuable. 

During one of the first stages of testing, one of the testers told me that if I were to make a design decision I needed to make sure I could defend it, and I took that to heart. From basic functionality to colors, iconography, and copy, I made an effort to ensure that everything behind this concept had research to back it up. 

One of my key learnings was that asking open-ended questions is where most of the UX research magic happens. People tend to give you more honest responses when they aren't attempting to tailor their answers to what they believe you want to hear.

Next Steps

add a check in prompt
conduct furder research
develop apple watch integration

Thank You!

Fancy seeing you all the way down here! I'd like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to look at my work. Feel free to connect with me via Linkedin or email with any questions, suggestion, or comments.

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