23andUs - Product Design

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or: How we created a platform to transform genetic testing into a tool for collective good


background -

“find out what your dna says about you”

23andMe provides two main product offerings: Ancestry, which gives detailed ancestry reports on genetic composition, as well as the ability to see with whom in the 23andMe database you share DNA; and Health + Ancestry, which, along with the ancestral information, provides reports on the individual’s genetic health risk, carrier status and trait reports. In other words, it gives the user a better idea of what to possibly expect at some point down the road.

Three Problems to Solve

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1. The Model is Business-centric -

“A Perfect model… for 23andme”

As of now, 23andMe’s model is working perfectly for them, bringing in money from users and pharmaceutical companies to access genetic information. But the user is peripheral in 23andMe’s platform, provided with little benefit, paying to have their information accessed and to access the medicine that would benefit them. Moving forward, 23andMe would be smart to consider the user first and foremost in their experience.

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2. the data provided is not actionable -

do people really want to know?

Most people we spoke with found the information beneficial for the purpose of preparing for the possibility of a disease later in life. However, the information given from DNA testing is not immediately actionable on an individual level, making it feel less valuable. For healthy and happy people, who have had little to no health concerns in their lives, genetic information will only go so far before it leads them to living in fear over something they may not be able to control.

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3. 23andme’s struggle with transparency -

“I don’t have a say in where my data goes”

Genetic testing companies like 23andMe and research driven pharmaceutical companies rely on the genetic data of large masses to create value in their products and services. That value hit a snag last year, when it was reported that 23andMe partnered with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to share the genetic information of their clients in a deal worth reportedly $300 million. If 23andMe want to remain the leaders in their category, they may need to rethink their current model that benefits Big Pharma more than the individual or the collective.


People don’t see the value in the current model. What else can 23andMe offer new users to instigate participation ?



A two-sided DNA marketplace that puts the power of permission in the individual’s hands.

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Proposal page


An example research proposal page, where users can learn more about the companies conducting research and what is being done with their genetic data.


featured studies


A collection of featured studies, allowing users to seek out the research and studies being done that are important and interesting to them.


why would 23andme change their model?

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It may be hard to convince 23andMe to change what has been working so well for them. However, by utilizing this platform, 23andMe will now be able to reach many companies who could use their information, as opposed to just GlaxoSmithKline. And while they would lose their large exclusive investment from GSK, this platform would give them new opportunities to connect with medical research companies all over the world. Where there was a concern over the value of the original platform, 23andUs allows users to literally attach a dollar amount to their genetic information. If given a choice between their current model and this, people have no reason not to side with our alternative method.


With 23andUs, we place the user at the center of the experience, allowing them to benefit from where their data goes on each separate occasion.



Category & Consumer Research / Strategic Positioning / Service Design Concepting / User Testing

cast & crew

Chorong Kim (Strategic Partner), Joelle Halle (Designer).