After watching her husband suffer from cancer, Tomoko Namba, founder of Japan’s leading mobile internet company, DeNA, wanted to empower people with better health information to aid them in making medical decisions. DeNA partnered with IDEO to help with the design of a genetic test that had mass-market appeal.
Together, IDEO and DeNA designed all the consumer touchpoints from the ground up for the expanding new business, called MYCODE. The aim was not only to create a functioning, usable product, but also to introduce the notion of genetic testing in a privacy-sensitive country that for the most part, hadn’t yet considered it an option. What would make MYCODE resonate with mass-market Japan? How could genetic testing results be shared in a way that was accurate but also actionable and motivating?
The team worked with doctors, nutritionists, medical governing bodies, and more, setting up fast, iterative cycles, and conceptualizing and prototyping almost every aspect of MYCODE in just 16 weeks. Data design, home testing experience, purchase flow, and how the service would be used over the long-term were all considered, along with traditional branding elements, like name, logo, and visual identity.
The result is a product that puts reliable genetic information into the hands of Japanese consumers, helping them to make more informed healthcare decisions. MYCODE went to market in August 2014, just nine months after the engagement with IDEO began. Not only did MYCODE fulfill Namba’s mission, it helped the company find new ways to grow: Upon announcement of the new service, DeNA’s share price jumped 6.7 percent.