Introducing a User-Centered Design Approach to an Existing Web Application

Assignment:

Introduce a user-centered approach to a 12 year-old health web application and a user experience design process to the team. This application and team had never benefited from a dedicated User Experience designer.

My Role:

Led the redesign of this health web application. I partnered with business analysts, product support specialists, and software engineers to discuss and brainstorm for the application redesign. I also created wireframes, prototypes, and mockups to demonstrate our vision and principles, while simultaneously balancing users’ goals with overall business goals.

Challenges:

The original application screen design was driven by a database and, as a result, content (such as labels, help text, and error messages) was ambiguous and often contained unnatural, confusing language. In addition, users had never been involved in interviews or application testing. Finally, the application itself was highly customizable and needed a solution that was flexible.

Screenshot from original application

Goals:

Create software driven by users’ tasks, ultimately improving user experience. Other goals also included reducing the amount of training users needed to learn how to use the software and product support calls.

Process:

As part of weekly team meetings that included business analysts, product support, quality assurance, and software engineers, we created personas, workflows, user tasks, and wireframes. All aspects of the application were discussed, including labeling language and inputs on screen interactions and menus.

Examples of personas developed by team

Journey map developed by team

Significant Discovery:

Through discussions with product support, we discovered that users were keeping the application open (and staying logged in) to avoid losing information that had been entered but could not yet be saved, potentially resulting in a HIPAA violation. We addressed this by making a significant software design change to allow users to save items to the database in small pieces, and adding an “items to complete” list to show the user which items still needed to be saved in the system.

Final design illustrating change allowing user to save single data elements

User Feedback:

We conducted remote user testing with 6 application end-users for whom we established personas. We were able to identify 2 major issues during this process and received otherwise good feedback.

Reflections:

Prior to this experience, this team team had never worked with a user experience designer. Their primary responsibilities had been to apply business goals, not consider how the users interacted with the application. However, when we started to work together as a group, everyone began to realize how the user experience of the application was at times confusing and frustrating. The team became progressively excited at the prospect of collaborating on design changes that would potentially improve users’ experiences.

I personally found this to be a very rewarding experience. I not only played a significant role in improving an application’s user experience and getting a team focused on this aspect of design, but I also came away with a better understanding of how users interact with health applications and patient health information. This experience made more clear the importance of good user experience within health applications, as the user experience not only affects the application’s user, but also ultimately the patient.