*The gray boxes represents inactivated categories that we were not working on.
Project scope: 3.5 months
Project type: App design
My Role: UX research, UI design, Information Architecture, Prototype, Usability test
Tools: Sketch, Adobe XD, paper, pen
Healthy Entrepreneurs (HE) is a Dutch foundation active in four East African countries. Its goal is to provide basic health care knowledge and easier access to pharmacy products to people in remote areas. HE's approach is to train local people to become Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHE) in their respective villages. CHEs sell affordable health products and provide elementary health care.
During the discovery phase, I had several meetings with the business team of Healthy Entrepreneurs. I gathered a lot of information about the foundation and its main pain points. Together we agreed that my project would have the most impact if it focused on the redesign of the health app used by the CHEs. (An app had already been developed in the past, however it had been deactivated to make improvements after it was realized that design issues caused low usage.)
To iterate faster we kept the scope small. It was decided from the start to focus on the functionalities related to Malaria (prevention, diagnosis and treatment) because it would have the most impact on the African communities. The idea is to replicate the design solution for other conditions later on, and to keep adding new features.
The first big challenge was to design for a user with limited digital skills. To ensure that creating an app was the right decision in the first place, I put a lot of effort into the research phase.
To identify the real problems and get new insights about the user’s pain points, we interviewed four potential users: two from Kenya and two from Uganda. Some had already used the previous app and others not, this allowed us to compare their experiences.
The interviews were done through calls of about 30 minutes each and included questions about the daily routine of the CHEs when visiting patients.
The calls were not easy to conduct because of their lack of access to a good internet connection, and because of their sometimes limited technology skills. Getting acquainted with the conditions in which they will use the app and with the users themselves was, in itself, very important. The understanding I gained of the final user guided all of my design decisions.
What do you do when going to a patient’s visit to inform or test about some disease? Could you tell me the steps that you usually take?
How easy is this process for you?
If a sick patient comes to you, how do you diagnose them?
How easy is it to make a diagnosis of Malaria? Do you feel confused at some step?
How do you collect the data from a patient?
Do you use the call center to help you for general inquiries? How is it?
How do you get all the information you give to the patients?
Findings & Recommendations
In order to start working on a solution, I made a table summarizing the findings (or pain points) from the meetings and interviews. I added a column with my recommendation (possible solutions) for each.
Together with the team from HE, we selected three main pain points to work with:
Diagnosis: CHEs have difficulties making a diagnosis
They find the process complex and the information they need can be difficult to find.
The recommendation is to build a symptom checker where the CHE could input the main symptoms and the system would suggest what to observe, ask and test next.
Prevention: CHEs find it difficult to remember all the prevention measures
They find it difficult to remember what was taught even though they often take the training several times.
The recommendation is to build a prevention checklist.
Access to content: CHEs lack easy access to information
They don’t have access to enough content to inform the patients. They often need to call HE’s country office to ask for help. They would like to be more autonomous.
The recommendation is to build a learning resource.
User Journey Map
To visualize the steps taken for the user to accomplish a task (in this case, the diagnosis of a patient) as well as the difficulties faced in the process, I decided to use a User Journey Map.
Taking the perspective of the CHE confirmed that the idea of a “symptom checker” would improve their experience and help them accomplish their goal with ease. Moreover, it gave me the additional idea to create a “test guide” which would assist the CHE through the steps needed to perform a test on a patient.
After deciding the functionalities we need to include in our app, I created a Sitemap diagram. This diagram helps hierarchically structure all the content that should be included in the application.
I usually start the design process by sketching some ideas before creating the wireframes. This is a good way to express ideas and evaluate many design options quickly.
To establish the basic structure of the app and to map out its functionalities, I started creating low fidelity wireframes with the main interactions.
I was focused on making an intuitive design, with large buttons and well-defined functions to make the app more intuitive for less experienced users. Also, I was intentional about giving as much feedback as possible to the user through pop-up boxes and detailed feature descriptions.
I made 30+ screens and right below I displayed the main ones.
*You can interact with the screens by scrolling down to see the full content.
Usability Testing (first round)
I turned the wireframes into a prototype to do a test round and reveal possible usability issues at this early stage.
The tasks and preparation of the test were done by me. The tests were done remotely and conducted with the help of the HE’s team (Tinka, Thijs & Janet).
We conducted a test with 3 users from Uganda and 2 users from Kenya. We were able to check the differences between countries.
It was a challenging part of our project because the users have limited digital skills.
Usability testing - Report
Some tasks provided surprising results. The insights helped us a lot for the next phase. For instance, we noticed :
CHEs need even more detailed descriptions.
Translation into their native language would be useful (the biggest part of the CHEs speak english, but feel more comfortable in their native language).
Age and weight of the patients should be included in the “symptom checker”.
The buttons (especially from the list of videos) were not big enough.
Back buttons are necessary on all pages.
These insights directly impacted the next version of the app.
UI Design & Prototype
Having found the main usability issues, I started designing the final screens and then turned it into a color prototype.
We decided to use simple components to help our users accomplish the tasks instinctively. I also designed the standard icons to maintain a consistent look and to help the understanding of the app.
We used a very clean style to not distract the user. The colors used are those from the HE logotype, in addition to white which is associated with medical environments.
I made 40+ screens. Because the flow is too large, I only included the main screens below.
*You can interact with the screens by scrolling down to see the full content.
Here is the complete flow used to validate the design.
Test it out, it is interactive!
Usability testing (second round)
We conducted another round of tests, this time using the High-fidelity prototype. The tests were done with 2 users from Kenya.
As before, the tasks were prepared by me. The tests were conducted remotely with the help of the HE’s team (Tinka, Thijs & Janet).
The success rate of the tasks increased from 30% to 80% between the first and the second round of tests.
Leading this design project with Healthy Entrepreneurs was a big challenge. I learned to understand the needs of users very different from the usual western user.
It was a very enriching experience being in direct contact with the Community Health Entrepreneurs. This was key to understanding how to make their work easier.
This experience challenged my ability to put myself in the shoes of the users to create the best experience for them. Even so, I feel there is still a lot to be learned about them.
What is next?
After I delivered the final prototype, Healthy Entrepreneurs began the process of implementing the application. I would stress the importance of verifying how the app is being used and to keep doing usability tests to uncover additional pain points.
Later on, the idea is to keep improving the app in small iterations, which means replicating the process we followed but applied to other parts of the app (eg: other conditions).