Taboo — a female sexuality platform made by and for women
Developing a solution that helps women in a relationship with men express their desires and fetishes to their partners
Brief: The challenge is to identify a problem that perhaps you or someone you know is facing every day and build a digital product or service based on your own vision, research, findings and the UX/UI process you’ve learned throughout the bootcamp.
Deliverables: hi-fi prototypes (mobile and desktop)
Design sprint: 12 days
Team: Bárbara Accioly and me
Tools: Figma, Miro and Optimal Workshop
Taboo, a digital platform that helps women in a relationship with men express their desires and fetishes to their partners.
Taboo — logo
Unfortunately, we still live in a society in which female sexuality is considered a taboo, as a consequence of patriarchy. Thus, when women approach this subject, they are often seen in a pejorative way.
However, things are changing and women are becoming more and more empowered about their sexuality, so this is a subject that is gaining relevance and that is why we chose to investigate it.
So, we started our journey through an extensive research that included the following steps: survey (a), desk research (b), and qualitative interviews (c), in order to understand the scenario from different perspectives.
We created a survey containing 21 questions on various topics involving female sexuality, of which ten were open-ended (in other words, the volunteers could write their own answers). The main topics we addressed were:
Relationship with the partner
Orgasm and masturbation
Erotic toys and accessories
Perceptions about sex
From this, we analyzed all collected data by affinity and cross-referencing information, and these were the main insights:
1. The sexual sphere influences several other fields of women's lives.
Diagram: sex impact on other areas of women's lives
2. There are over 27 variables that affect female orgasm and the most mentioned were related to mental stimulations (feeling beautiful, feeling comfortable, being unconcerned).
3. Women who are in a relationship with men reported that they find it more difficult to talk about sex with their partners.
4. Within the communication sphere, the most challenging topics to address were, respectively, "desires and fetishes" and "limits and dissatisfactions", as shown in the chart below:
Chart: most difficult subjects to be addressed x number of mentions
Thus, we chose to focus on matters concerning communication between couples to narrow the scope, since it was the topic that stood out the most. Therefore, we started desk research and qualitative interviews to collect data in order to further investigate this issue.
b. Desk research
During the desk research, we found some data that corroborated our findings with the survey:
According to a survey conducted by Prazerela with 1370 women from all regions of Brazil in 2018, only 43% of them talk openly about sex with their partners.
Furthermore, we also found a survey done by Cosmopolitan UK in 2021 with approximately 2300 women, in which 39% of them said they rarely talk about sex-related variables with their partner and 15% of them said they never have this kind of dialogue (in the after-sex scenario), as evidenced in the diagram:
c. Qualitative interviews
We also conducted five interviews focusing on the issue of sexuality in the relationship with the partner to understand why communication is difficult and what dilemmas are involved in this. After analyzing the interviews, we realized that women in general feel uncomfortable talking about sexuality due to the following reasons:
Fear of judgment and being ashamed to expose their desires
Male pleasure prioritization (imposed by society)
Feeling that they are "annoying" and don't want to bother their partner
"If there is no communication before and during (sex), it's complicated. (...) women usually say that they don't like to talk during sex and that the person has to understand because body speaks, but our bodies are taught to lie pleasure, to fake orgasm and to be passive for men. So if we don't break this and communicate, I think that makes it very difficult". - Interviewee
"I think that something that is very worth exploring is women's insecurity. This lack of security with our bodies and the priority disturbance because of male pleasure prioritization makes us feel inhibited to approach sexuality issues". - Interviewee
. . .
Taking into account all the data we obtained and analyzed, we set out to define our persona: Ana.
Ana and her attributes
Furthermore, in order to identify design opportunities, we built Ana's journey:
Through this journey, we could observe the user's pain points in red, which reflect her frustration at not being able to talk about sexuality with her partner. Thus, we chose to focus on these points to state the problem encountered:
Women who are in relationships with men find it difficult to talk to them about their desires and fantasies because they fear being judged.
At this stage, we used the following question as a guide throughout the ideation process: how might we help these women address the subject of desires and fetishes with their partners?
. . .
To answer this question, we had to take a step back and ask ourselves, first of all, why women don't talk about this subject.
After all, why doesn't Ana feel comfortable to talk about this?
We did some more research and found out that this fear comes from a sexist society in which women are judged all the time, especially when they talk about their own pleasure. One proof of this is that a large part of the content about sex is produced focusing on male pleasure in detriment of female pleasure. So, women's pleasure is constantly put in the background.
Because of this, this fear is increasingly nurtured, which makes women feel insecure about their own desires and often also feel guilty (as in Ana's example), damaging their communication with their partner. Moreover, all this insecurity can also harm her sex life, imposing barriers to her sexual satisfaction.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with psychologist Thayz Athayde, in which she discusses the effects of female sexuality's repression observed in her clinic:
"The repression of female sexuality is so violent that often sexual suffering doesn't even show up in the clinic. For sexual suffering to show up, you first have to think about your own sexuality, and that exercise of looking at yourself is already a difficult thing for women to do."
. . .
Therefore, to solve the problem of communication between women and their partners, we come to the conclusion that this is deeply related to other spheres of a woman's life: self-confidence, self-esteem, and understanding and normalizing her own desires.
Diagram: influencing factors in women's communication with their partners
With this in mind, we did a brainstorm session with some female colleagues, since we were looking for a solution made by women and for women.
We analyzed the ideas that came up during the session using the affinity chart, as you can see below:
Finally, we chose to focus on working with content about female sexuality and women's community.
So, we ran a competitor analysis to understand market's current context when it comes to female sexuality-oriented content. We found three main references that served as inspiration for the development of our solution:
Share Your Sex
Competitor analysis board
These solutions focus both on sexuality content and on interaction and exchange of experiences between women, but do not cover specifically the communication with the partner topic. Therefore, we decided to incorporate this last topic in the development of our solution.
Considering all this, we aimed to develop a solution that would attack the major pain point we found: the difficulty of communicating with the partner. To achieve this, we selected the following features:
1. Content about desires and fetishes: developed by and for women, with the intention of normalizing sexual desires and practices, making the user get in touch with this content and feel more comfortable.
2. Women's group: a women-only community in which it's possible to share experiences in order to normalize female sexuality and promote user's identification with other women that are facing the same problems. This way, she will realize that she isn't alone and that those insecurities are more common than we think.
3. Content about couple communication: also developed by and for women, it brings tips and information about how to approach this subject with your partner in an assertive way, aiming to create more confidence for the user when she talks with her partner.
We chose these three features because they complement and integrate our user's entire journey. After all, for her to be able to address sexuality issues with her partner, it was necessary to attack points prior to the communication stage itself, which are closely related to cultural aspects of society and affects women's self-confidence, self-esteem, and the understanding and normalization of their own desires.
Therefore, our problem can be classified as a wicked problem, which is very complex and leaves room for multiple ways of solution.
. . .
So, we stated the following hypothesis:
We believe that by presenting informative content about desires, fetishes and couple communication, as well as a women-only group in which they can discuss their experiences, we will contribute to the gradual normalization of sexual practices and empower women to approach this subject with their partners.
We'll be able to measure the success of the solution through satisfaction surveys and number of registrations.
. . .
Next, we set up the user flow engaging the three features:
In addition, we conducted a remote card sorting session with ten volunteers, using the Optimal Workshop tool, to help us define content categories' nomenclature and also develop the information architecture of our solution.
Thus, we developed the prototype in medium fidelity with the following screens:
Mid-fi prototype screens — first version
We then conducted concept and usability tests with five female volunteers and the main iteration points were:
The users were confused about the main goal of the solution
The flow wasn't clear for three of the five volunteers
Some of the icons on the tab bar and in the texts weren't intuitive
The group entry way wasn't clear
After iterations, this was the result:
Mid-fi prototype screens — second version
We reduced the number of icons and chose to use the ones that integrated people's mental models
We emphasized the hierarchy of some texts and highlighted the titles to guide the flow of the users
At this point Taboo was born. We chose this name because it is the way society sees female sexuality nowadays, but we wanted to reinterpret this word and put it as something good.
In order to define the brand's mood, we searched for references in many platforms such as Dribbble, Mobbin, Pinterest and Behance. Interestingly, most of the female-oriented inspirations we found followed a standard style and color pattern (always with different shades of pink and girly illustrations), so we decided to try a different approach: we were inspired by wellness apps to define our moodboard.
And we designed the style tile of our solution:
Taboo — Style tile
Colors: we chose a palette with few colors to create a very clean interface, since the solution has a lot of images and information. We also thought about a palette that wouldn't fatigue the user's eyesight since we have a lot of text content.
Typography: we chose Roboto, which is a light and easy-to-read typography, because we have a lot of information on the screens.
Keywords: we chose the words clean, welcoming and simple, which convey the mood of the brand.
Then, we developed the high fidelity prototype and, after some adjustments, this was the result:
Hi-fi prototype screens
The main improvements were:
Modifying the style of tab bar icons in order to communicate more closely with the rest of the layout
Text addition below the tab bar icons
Descriptive text below the category titles, to inform the user what the content is about
You can check the final prototype mobile version below (and you can also access the interactive prototype by clicking here):
And we also developed the prototype's desktop version (and you can also access the interactive prototype by clicking here:
Expand content's range
Virtual assistant that calls attention to contents according to the user's interaction
Creation of the user's profile, which will contain the list of her favorite and saved contents