Reimagining the CVS pharmacy experience through an intelligent voice assistant


Design Research
UX Design
Conversation Design
Motion Design
Mobile UI and Prototyping
Video Editing


Sep - Oct 2022


Taeyoung Chang
Irene Yang
Angel Liu


After Effects


Cara is an intelligent voice assistant for CVS, designed to simplify the customer experience and provide personalized care through conversational AI.

Through meaningful service touchpoints and an updated visual identity, Cara provides end-to-end personalized care before, during, and after in-store experiences.

I led research, concept ideation, identity design, UX design and prototyping, and conversational design.


How might intelligent user interfaces change the way designers build systems and influence how users interact with products and services?

The use of AI continues to grow as it offers efficient solutions to problems facing people and businesses, as well as quick ways of accessing relevant information. AI-powered Voice User Interfaces (VUI), or Conversational User interfaces (CUI) have shifted the way users interact with computers or machines. With access to users’ locations and online activities, they have become an important means for users to interact with other services, applications, and products.



Product Recommendations

Which product do I need for my treatment?

Cara provides individualized advice and suggestions based on personal preferences, past purchasing history, and self-reported conditions, as well as up to date inventory and location information.


Product Finder

Where can I find the products I need?

Wifi enabled positioning for live in-store navigation allows for effortless product locating and wayfinding.


Product Comparison

Which of these competitor products would be best for me?

With Cara, scan products to get quick comparisons and detailed descriptions of the information that matters most to you.


Treatment Explanations

What's the most effective way to use this product? When and how much is best for me?

Cara considers your personal preferences and habits to proactively offer contextual advice for off-the-shelf treatments and medications. By cutting down on medical jargon and translating complex information into human language, Cara reduces cognitive load to provide reliable, supportive care.


Follow-up and Reminders

How do I keep track of treatments and maintain care?

Cara continues to check-in on relevant treatments and sets usage reminders and nudges when appropriate, ensuring continued, holistic care.

Research and Framing

Why we chose CVS Pharmacy, our insights, and how that defined our design principles and solutions.

Context - Why CVS?

Pharmacies are a one-stop shop for personal care and well-being. From minor aches and pains and essential medications, to everyday toiletries and snacks, they provide services and products in support of accessible human-centered care.

We were interested in pharmacies as a healthcare-adjacent essential service, situated at the intersection of healthcare & consumer experience. This opportunity space aligns with broader trends of around decentralization of healthcare and personal wellness, empowering patient-customers through shifting models of care.

We chose CVS Pharmacy specifically due to its dominance as the largest pharmacy chain in the US, reflecting potential to reach and support as many people as possible.

Value Proposition

Understanding the CVS experience

We conducted immersive, exploratory research at local CVS pharmacies to not only tease out pain points and friction, but to identify highlights of a characteristic CVS brand experience. We interviewed customers, pharmacists, and staff, covertly observed interactions and customer journeys throughout the store, role-played (and engaged) as confusing customers seeking products and assistance, and explored existing kiosks and interfaces. Key insights were then identified for pre-visit, in-store, and at home experiences.

Information overload
Long queues and wait times
Fly on the wall
Contextual inquiry
Walkthrough | price checker and coupon center
Roleplay | seeking guidance from staff
Full participant observation | treatment guidance
Full participant observation | vaccination process


Crafting the Identity

CVS's existing mobile identity was a bit out of alignment with Cara’s personality, as well as the company values CVS aims to deliver. The existing interface was very stark and clinical, with harsh reds, cold grays, and stark black. It felt contrary to their values, which emphasize a people-first, empathy-driven approach- this drove our decisions when adjusting the visual design style.

Existing CVS mobile experience

Updated Visual System

Our adjusted palette consists of a warmer red, cream, navy, and light sky blue. These colors recall and respect the blues and reds in CVS's existing web presence. The new palette conveys a greater sense of care and approachability with its warmer tones, reflecting CVS brand values of integrity, empathy, and community. Rather than relying solely on a primary red color in the mobile app, we introduced a secondary blue to scaffold the information hierarchy.

Icons and illustrations highlight our friendly and approachable values, with flat but soft, simple forms.


When designing our VUI identity, we knew from the start that implementing a heart motif into the design would be important in order to connect it back to CVS’s original brand identity.

Exploring modular, adaptable components with an underlying grid/structure
Additional early explorations

From there, we wanted to explore more animistic forms, as depicted in the 2nd and 3rd options below, but these ran into proportion issues when scaled down to a more realistic size for mobile devices. We decided to revert back to a geometric, scalable form more reminiscent of the original CVS logo. We added gradients to break up the form, soften, and add depth.

Cara's evolution

Final Visual Identity

The final visual identity for our VUI integrates our updated coral red, while the central circle at the top aims to bring back our earlier intention by implying a human-like form.


Between motion states, we wanted to further highlight Cara’s personality by designing the transition animations to be a bit more life-like and personable. When defining motion states, we considered the accurate reflection of customer's mental models to provide appropriate feedback during crucial states.

We aimed to make the animations a bit more humanistic to balance Cara's geometric form, and we sought for each state to be active and personable, without coming across as too jovial or playful to maintain a sense of reliability and expertise.


When choosing Cara's voice, we considered several different options. To align with Cara's personality and CVS values, we aimed for an uplifting and clearly audible, but not overly playful or dynamic tone. Cara’s voice should still convey a level of professionalism, competence, and expertise.

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Ann Li 2022