Improving blood donor retention through design.

Observational sketches from the Lifeblood donor centre ethnographic study.

The design methodology generated unique insights into blood donation, which were translated into innovative – and feasible – strategies to facilitate donor engagement. The published literature around blood donation shows that collaborative, design-led approaches are novel in the field.

Adj Assoc Prof Tanya Davison

To ensure the continued supply of blood and blood products for Australian patients, a panel of committed blood donors is essential. Approximately 40% of first-time whole blood donors in Australia do not return within two years to make a second donation (Moloney, Hayman, Gamble, Smith, & Hall, 2017). This presents an opportunity to enhance the experience of donating blood, which may encourage more people to keep donating.

Partnering with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in this speculative, conceptually-focussed design research project, we examined Lifeblood's end-to-end donor journey to reimagine the way products, spaces, and digital interactions might transform the donation experience of the future. We used Human Centred Design to deliver an experience that will result in an increase in the retention of first-time donors as well attract new donors. Key design opportunities that emerged from ethnographic fieldwork in Victorian donor centres included personalization and increased social connection via digital technology and artificial intelligence, a re-envisioned donor couch experience, and ways to change donors’ perception of waiting times. As well as inspiring testing and implementation of new Lifeblood Donor Mobile App features, many of these concepts will be further tested and developed through a larger-scale design research project.


Moloney, G., Hayman, J., Gamble, M., Smith, G., & Hall, R. (2017). Translation strategies, contradiction, and the theory of social representations: Why discussing needles may improve blood donor retention. British Journal of Social Psychology, 56(2), 393-415.