Ensure that your interface has ‘preferred actions’ so the user always knows what they should/can do. Design for the majority of your users and let extra functionality be discovered as needed (e.g. through hover controls, information layering) without delivering everything all at once.
Use visual cues, as little copy as possible and always provide defaults (undo/redo/home). Promote visual clarity with well thought-out information hierarchy so the most important information is always clearly displayed and accessible with no effort.
Our flagship product, Interact, contains huge amounts of detailed and complex information (drug and gene). However it’s clear interface and strong visual cues ensures that users are at no point overwhelmed with content.
A consistent design is actually simpler for users because it re-uses components, behaviours, colours, and aesthetic to reduce the need for users to rethink. Users are already familiar with many of the components used throughout apps and the web, so complying with these patterns will make the system simpler and clearer right from the start. When a design is consistent and clear it relies on recognition not recall – reducing a users memory load and the amount of ‘work’ they’re expected to do. It’s important to keep interaction results the same (manage users expectations) and encourage exploration by keeping key elements predictable.
When building Interact we made extensive use of colours that we knew users would recognize and associate with. In reliance on this recall our app communicates it’s most important information visually so users simply have to scan the page.
3. Give users control
"Allow users to personalise their experience. People love to add personal touches because it helps them feel at home and in control. Provide sensible, beautiful defaults, but also consider fun, optional customisations that don't hinder primary tasks." - Google Android
When people feel out of control, they simply don’t have a good time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t surprise people; it means that users need to feel like they are always able to take the next step (or bow out) at their request. Some users will be experienced and skilled, they will want more control over their journey (car driver) than a novice or casual user (train passenger) who may prefer to feel guided and safe - see Theo Mandels car vs. train analogy. Good UX designs accommodates for both and recognizes that users deserve the right to change their minds and take the car one day and the train the next.
Control can come from several places, such as allowing users to dictate the pace, path and level/detail of detail (choosing to ‘deep dive’ for more information). It can also come from interface customization; personalizing something for you – even a little change like picking a colour – helps users to feel more in control. Provide meaningful paths and exits so users feel the design is forgiving also helps them feel more in control and able to navigate away from a linear user journey.
As mentioned above Interact contains a wealth of complex information. A casual user can quickly use the app to check for a drug interaction within seconds. Likewise they can also use the app to customize doses etc., compare and explore several drugs simultaneously, read in-depth information about interactions or access entire drug monographs. Both users will follow the same steps but the their journey and the depth of the knowledge gained will be entirely different.
4. Make conversation
"Use real world behaviour and user testing to aid the development process." - GOV.UK
UX is a conversation. As UX professionals we are creating a dialog with users in which the goal is to find out how we can best help them do what they want to do. Therefore, UX becomes a service that is constantly reacting to the changing needs of our audience – it is not a one off product. The conversation is both how we deliver and how we find out how to make it better.
Since day one we have worked closely with our users, responding to feedback and implementing suggestions. When Interact is released we will continue to react to the changes needs of our users and the environments in which they operate.
5. Be friendly
"Delight me in surprising ways: A beautiful surface, a carefully-placed animation, or a well-timed sound effect is a joy to experience." - Google Android
Users should be able to relax and enjoy exploring the interface of any software product. Even industrial-strength products shouldn’t intimidate users so that they are afraid to press a button or navigate to another screen.
It’s also critical to establish the proper tone of voice in messages and prompts. It is important to assign no blame for errors or problems. Poor message terminology and tone encourages users to blame themselves for problems that occur, effecting their confidence and experience. Constant alerts that bombard the users can also lead to user fatigue.
Interfaces today and in the future must be more intuitive, enticing, predictable, and forgiving than the interfaces we’ve designed to date. It’s time we moved onward past user-friendly interfaces to user-seductive and fun-to-use product interfaces, even in the healthcare environment.