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Achieving insight

Alex MortonJames WeybourneNeil ReesUnderstanding the needs of people is key to the success of developing a patient-focused intervention. If you don’t do the research to understand the end user, then you are building your house on a foundation of sand. But how can you be sure that what you think you know about them is actually correct? Here are three key considerations to enable you to better understand your users.

Embed research throughout your proces

The foundation of every project is to understand the people, their behaviours, the emotions that drive them and the world they live in. Conducting research to understand who these people are and the environmental influences surrounding them is vital for creating a solid bedrock of knowledge. From here we can build solutions to their challenges. There’s a huge range of different research methods that allow you to develop an understanding of their world, so using the most appropriate one that gives the best value is key.

But research shouldn’t stop there.

To get a more empathetic understanding of your users, a more granular level of insight is needed. Having researchers and designers do a deeper dive into specific behaviours and problems helps build further insight and a basis on which to design effective interventions. Once research is conducted, the information must be synthesised into actionable goals which you can then take to design workshops to create prototype solutions, bringing together the project team’s multi-disciplinary expertise. Testing and co-creating with users then allows you to refine and refine until you know that the solution you are creating really does work.

Integrating and encompassing the power of both market research and user research allows you to develop leading-edge products that truly understand the heart of the problem and are able to solve it in an elegant way.

Immerse yourself in your users’ environment

You can speak to healthcare professionals on the phone, but unless you go into their place of work, then you won’t be aware of their creaky old computers, or the fact that they have to share their office with other clinicians. Immersing yourself in people’s day-to-day lives allows you to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise find out, and ask questions that you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. It will help you truly empathise with the user and find solutions to those problems you didn’t know existed.

And allowing key team members to meet people in their own environment will give them insight that desk research simply doesn’t offer. They can truly understand the people they are creating the solution for. That kind of immersion can ultimately be the difference between the success and failure of a project.

Build strong user personas

The project team can develop a wealth of research in the early stages of a project, which is great but all this information can become quite unwieldy. Sorting and synthesising this information through the use of experience and empathy maps allows you to reveal the important influences, feelings, pain points and goals. The accumulation of this synthesis is in the creation of user personas.

Personas are an accumulation of immersion. You can formulate your arguments for and against certain elements of the interface based on these. Importantly, though, they don’t need to be complicated: you should be able to distil all of this information into just a handful of bullet points.

Whether it be an app, an online HCP portal, or an information leaflet, people use and interact with things in different ways. Creating accurate personas of your end users is invaluable in understanding who they are and how and why they act. They are the benchmark to base all your future design, content and delivery decisions on. In their purest form, personas will give direction to the design of a project and be a guide to make sure that you stay pure and honest to the original research and to the lives of the people that wish to change for the better.

As a patient engagement business, we are able to combine our expertise in research, human-centred design, user testing and digital development to create solutions for patients, carers or healthcare professionals. But by having research at the heart of everything we do, these solutions can really make a difference to people’s lives.

Alex Morton is a patient and healthcare writer, Neil Rees is head of research and James Weybourne is design director at The EarthWorks

In association with

The EarthWorks

21st February 2018

From: Marketing



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