The product is a cloud based dementia and therapy engagement platform for the senior care market. It enhances the quality of life in senior communities by keeping seniors, especially those with dementia, engaged to maintain a higher level of cognitive function.
The product was conceptualized originally as an MP3 player pre-filled with a list of musical content. Since its initial launch in 2011, content has been added in a variety of formats such as videos, games, trivia, pictures and more. Therefore, the content has grown by orders of magnitude without any guidelines or redesign in structure or presentation. Vast supply of content combined with poorly defined structure led to the ineffectiveness of the tool with community staff members, our primary users.
In order to create an efficient tool that not only engages residents but also fosters collaboration among staff members and residents’ family members we completely overhauled the content structure, simplified the flow for all types of staff members, implemented a family-friendly feature as well as initialized a redesign of the interface to ensure specifications were met for the elderly population.
I was very eager to work with my two teammates as I felt we were all a very good fit for each other. First team meeting we discussed why each of us were interested in this particular project and quickly found that this product touched each of our hearts on a personal level. We also learned which areas of the UX process were our strengths as well as what areas of concentration we each would prefer to learn more about by doing.
Eager to begin our work we met with our client immediately and thanks to some demonstrations of the product in its current state, we had a very good understanding of how large the scope of this project really was. It was at this point, I could see clearly that having two fantastic researchers on my team suited me just fine as I wanted to concentrate on the architecture as well as the interface design.
One of the reasons ALL of us were excited about this project was the opportunity we saw to meet with, interview and study our users as they used the product. With a tightening of his tie Jay set off to visit nearby assisted living facilities to deliver a survey we created intended for nurses and activity directors. Unfortunately our attempts to connect with our users were met with great resistance due to the nature of the business of health care.
Liz buckled down and a buried herself deep into the rabbit whole that is research of the brain and I connected with two of our main competitors to analysis their systems. In the realm of software as a service most of our competitors would not allow a preview of the system without being a paying client, therefore much of the analysis had to come from video and screenshots of interfaces. One competitor however was more than happy to provide their results from extensive clinical research validating their product against their mission. This information led us to the discovery of one of the many areas of improvement for our client.
The product is a web based app intended for use on tablets as well as large kiosks; thanks to our resident Gadget Guru I was able to explore the online portal on three devices in order to ensure I had a thorough understanding of current experience. This also ensured that our future designs would work seamlessly across multiple devices.
As my teammates were delving into greater depths of the rest of the experience that needed revamping, I jumped at the opportunity to go through every screen and every category of the entire current system. In the time-lapse video here each Post-It represents a category of content listed with the number of pieces of content within said category. As you can see it is a massive library of content.
This process also highlighted the paths to this vast amount of content was very unclear, convoluted, tedious and inefficient, to say the least. After thoroughly documenting my work and with the help of a fellow colleague, we destroyed the old system, quite literally.
Starting with a blank white board, I began with the highest level of architecture and worked my way down simplifying the entire system. The most important goal of this new architecture schema was to ensure that content was never more than one level deep. All content would be organized in a similar pattern so that finding content was consistent no matter what you were looking for.
As I began wire framing pages content categories, Liz and Jay provided ample research on designing for the elderly, especially concentrating on those who have any sort of disability, which greatly influenced all of my designs. Most notable is the navigation location, which is flipped on its axis -- all resident facing controls are placed at the bottom of the screen and building up as needed.
Coming up with the variety of ways to display content within our app was a team effort at all times. As much as we worked independently we were always gathering into a mini design studio and flushing out ideas through constant iteration. As new ideas came to light I would jump back on the computer to mock them up and integrate them into our working prototype.
2 weeks into our 2.5 week sprint and we finally meet a real user. Due to precarious relationships between our client and their clients we were denied access to actual client testing. It wasn’t until we finally had a chance to put the prototype in front of the CEO who was so approving that he actually set up a date and time for us to meet with an actual client of theirs. This test, albeit late in the game, still added value to our prototype as well as feedback for additional changes to the overall experience.
We received resounding praise from our client both at the presentation and when we delivered our recommendation document, additional materials, and our prototype. As thorough of a job as we did within 2.5 weeks there is ample opportunity for further exploration into this experience. As of this writing it is unknown how much of our advice and direction our client will implement, I look forward to seeing the release of the next version in the future.