SmartCare is a B2B product created to be used in healthcare institutions in Canada. The tool had to be bulletproof in fast-paced, busy environments, where there is no place for mistakes and where every second counts. Therefore, simplicity was an absolute requirement from the client.
I was in charge of the experience strategy and the design of the desktop app and the iOS apps. During this project, I worked closely with the client and led the efforts to design an application that fits well in the workflow of staff in Canadian health clinics.
I wanted to create a product that improves the work environment for staff in health clinics. They are stressed enough at work as it is, so there is no reason to make their work even tougher. My vision was to create software that worked similarly on all platforms, but without sacrificing the ease of use or compromising on functionality.
The discovery phase was unconventional because a limited amount of market research was needed. This was not a B2C product that had to compete for attention with others in the same market. SmartCare would be used by staff in the health clinics that license it. We knew who the audience was already.
To understand it better, we created a couple of personas to focus on, based on initial interviews and on the client's knowledge of their audience. Throughout the ideation and design processes, the personas were a good guide for me when making major decisions.
During this phase, the client and I spent a decent amount of time on Skype. We held meetings often and discussed the features of the product based on the feature map they provided. Although the product ended up looking entirely different than their proposed wireframes, the resources they had created before hiring me helped me understand their vision of the end product.
The first part of the project was the desktop application, which was also the most complex and time-consuming one. I carried out a card sorting session to generate a user-centered architecture. Because the complexity of the application, I couldn't really figure out on my own where each feature should go. The results gave me a good understanding of how to go about the application structure not only on desktop, but also on the mobile application.
Insights from our discovery showed that health clinics employees use portable devices to view patients’ information and alerts. They rarely feel the need to add something to a patient profile from their small devices when running down the halls of the facilities. They are much more comfortable doing this from a desktop computer. If we were to create a good product for portable devices, then we needed to nail down the features users expected and leave out the ones they didn’t care about.
Thanks to our insights, we were able to remove some functionality from the iOS apps without compromising on the experience. If software is complex on desktop, this is acceptable, but it is often a bad experience on mobile. All arguments pointed towards simplifying the applications, and when I pitched it to the client, we agreed that this was the best way to go. I felt it was quite important for the final design to be sensitive to the way in which staff in health clinics work.
In order to understand which tasks are carried out from which devices, I took a look at the early interviews and figured out the following:
I went through an intense series of sprints where the most important components were nailed down. During these sprints, we decided what features the application must have and could have – features we didn’t need right away helped us start thinking about future releases.
Initially, I thought sketching would be less important for this project because the company already provided me with their own wireframes. However, some of the architecture they imagined was faulty, and I therefore had to sketch the app from the beginning.
Prototyping was done with UXPin and the tool was also used for usability testing. Unfortunately there was no time for me to test the high-fidelity mockups on my own, which is a risk of projects done with clients overseas. However, the company presented my prototype to staff in health clinics and returned the feedback to me. Most users were happy with the UI, but we received some feedback regarding functionality that was implemented differently than they had imagined.
The whole testing process helped me design a product that users could relate to and feel confident to use. During this phase I removed several user pain points, mostly about how the alerts system work, as well as making the process of editing a patient profile much more streamlined.
I took a simple approach for the visual design, going for a flat interface with good color contrasts that put focus on buttons and actions. The desktop app is responsive until a minimal breakpoint of 1024px, from which a horizontal scrollbar appears. This means that on larger screens there are more columns showing more information for the patients and staff lists. This gives a better overview of the items in the list and makes use of what would otherwise be a large white area.
Since it is important to move fast in their work environment and thanks to the latest Apple technology, the iPhone app supports 3D Touch on the home screen, allowing users to quickly navigate to or at least closer to their intended destination. Although this is currently only a nice-to-have feature, it is nevertheless the hallmark feature of the latest iPhone and an important interaction pattern in the future. There is no reason not to take advantage of it.
If I would take onto a similar project again and I would be allotted more time, I would spend some of it figuring out a way to test my design on the audience. The data I would gather would help figure out in which direction the product should move in terms of future iterations.
Unfortunately, for reasons not related to this project, the company went through heavy restructuring at executive level and project SmartCare was never signed off by the Board. Nevertheless, this is some of my best work do date, even if the product never made it past design.