A non-judgemental app to help people keep track of their drinking

We designed and developed a digital product and branding for Drinks Meter





Drinks Meter

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Branding · Digital product design · Single codebase product build · UI · UX · Illustration


Challenge icon

The challenge

How to help people be aware of their drinking, in an easy, unbiased, non-judgemental way.

What we did icon

What we did

Designed, developed and positioned a visually distinctive digital product and brand.

Outcome icon

The outcome

A product that’s being used globally and leading to positive behaviour change.

Most people who drink alcohol won’t ever need treatment, but many would like to drink less and drink safely. To make informed choices, people need information about their drinking that’s personally relevant, unbiased and non-judgemental. Drinks Meter doesn’t tell people what to do. It’s a digital tool (web and app) that reflects back to them what they’ve shared with it, giving instant, personalised feedback using a range of evidence-based strategies to help people assess their drinking and motivate change. It’s anonymous and unbiased.  

Drinks Meter is independently funded and was conceived by Professor Adam Winstock, drug and alcohol specialist, honorary clinical professor, consultant psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey. Continuing the work and relationship that we have with the latter, we were tasked with positioning, designing and developing the Drinks Meter brand and digital product. 

What we did

Using our iterative, step-by-step approach, we crafted a visually distinct, user-focused digital product that’s simple, enjoyable and informative to use and users want to come back to. We built it through a single, responsive codebase that meant we could build it once to work across all mobile and desktop devices.

UX and UI

Professor Winstock knew what he wanted the product to do and provided the content for it. First we worked on the logic, functionality and UX, to bring his vision to life and make it function as he wanted it to. Once we had that, we could design a look and feel for the brand and UI around it.  

Brand identity

Drinks Meter needed an identity that would work well on the app but be flexible enough to also be used in print advertising, digital PPC and physical assets. We gave the branding a distinctively data-centric personality, using custom illustration to do this, and adopted a colour palette of vibrant hues, inspired by urban nightlife. This gave a visual style that set the brand apart from traditional medical and health tools.

We gave the product a scientific feel while also keeping it simple and friendly, pairing lightweight typography with thin line and stroke architecture. Alongside the brand colour palette we introduced neon elements, and added depth and detail with illustrations and iconography. 

The technology

We used a single codebase so that we could deploy the app natively across different digital stores and platforms, including Apple, Android and as a desktop web tool. We opted for a hybrid web/app approach, wrapping our single product for deployment using Adobe’s PhoneGap. This meant that updates could be applied in one place and distributed across the device range quickly and easily. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play and as a responsive website. 

Since launch, the brand and product has been extended to attract greater commercial opportunities, with new features released. Our architecture has expanded to accommodate unique localisations of the tool including offline data submission, localised content and other enriched features. 

New functionality for Australia

In 2018, the New South Wales government in Australia commissioned Drinks Meter to deliver new functionality to help combat severe issues with alcohol abuse in the state. We collaborated on new functionality, UI and UX, with a new diary component that attracted repeat usage of the app. 

The new version led to proven behaviour change. Before using it, 32% of users agreed with the phrase “I am changing my drinking habit right now”; afterwards this increased to 44%. The number who agreed with “There is no need for me to think about changing my drinking” dropped from 52% to 45%. 

The outcome

Drinks Meter has been commended by healthcare professionals, such as Professor Paul Wallace of University College London, who said: “It’s relevant, attractive, easy to use and provides useful feedback. It’s a great tool.”

In an independent peer-reviewed analysis1 of 32 eSBI apps (electronic screening and brief intervention) used by young people, Drinks Meter was the most highly rated by users, particularly for the information and feedback provided in the app. 

In the first 3 years after our redesign, the app supported more than 50,000 people in 170 countries around the world. 

1 Milward, Kahjesar et al. 

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