How To Humanise a Digital Health App
2 years of testing summarised in 5 UI/UX lessons.
There are unique challenges that present in designing a user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) for individuals with dementia. Some people may suffer from mild-cognitive impairment (MCI) or impaired vision, others may not be familiar with using apps at all.
Through several rounds of beta-testing, we’ve learned a lot about humanising dementia screening. Here are five of our most important takeaways.
1. Build Patterns
We understand that not everyone is comfortable using new mobile apps. To flatten the learning curve, we’ve found that visual and functional consistency is key. Mindset is split into three distinct, easy-to-follow stages: a patient history, an interactive task, and a reward end-screen. Every stage is structured the same way, ensuring ease of navigation and helping you know exactly what to expect with each exercise.
With the latest version of our app, we also took time to select and test our colour scheme — not only ensuring that the vibrant, eye-catching colours work across every screen we display, but that they are also accessible to individuals with visual impairments, including colour-blindness. Similarly, almost all of our buttons can be found in the same place, with the same distinct size, shape, and text. They are also large enough to accommodate for natural thumb zones, ensuring a frustration-free UX.
2. Give Control to the User
You’d probably hate it if your GP consultation was a continuous interrogation with no time to clarify, repeat or digest the information being asked of you. The same applies to using an app, where some may feel stressed if they don’t have enough time to digest everything. To ensure that you can control the pace at which you encounter new information, we’ve modified our UI to mirror that which is seen when someone is ‘typing’ on iMessage. We’ve also made sure that further support is always available through help buttons — such as ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘I’m Having Trouble’, and ‘Replay Tutorial’ — integrated throughout.
3. Minimise Anxiety
There’s little else that is more intimidating than being told to do something without knowing why. Mindset isn’t immune to the unfortunate side effects of in-person clinical tests. Anxiety from using the app can skew diagnostic test results, a phenomenon analogous to white coat syndrome. As a result, we’ve implemented clear descriptions summarising exactly what our cognitive tests are assessing. This has helped ensure that no one is left in the dark while working through each task, making the entire process feel like a “walk in the park”.
4. Reduce Cognitive Effort
At Mindset, we like to keep things simple. With buttons integrated throughout the app, you don’t need to type a word. We’ve also replaced the standard login wall with a simple 5-character user ID for returning users, making forgetting passwords a thing of the past. This idea of ‘less is more’ also applies to our language (simple, colloquial, and human) and fonts (clear, clean, and large). Even our terms and conditions have been whittled down to their bare-bones: a simple 4-point screen displaying only the information you need to know.
5. Add a Personal Touch
The app’s familiar chatbot UI not only ensures user-controlled cadence, but also immerses the user in friendly dialogue akin to what they may normally experience in the clinic. Mindset also integrates relatable quirks throughout the app to offer you a UX that is not just stress-free, but fun. We’re big on using terrible puns, emojis, and gamification to lighten a typically serious process.
Our mission is to improve dementia care by making screening easy, accessible, and effective. Though we can’t change the workings of each neurological task, we’re determined to make each step as stress-free as we can. With this goal, Mindset’s UI and UX has come a long way. We’ve learned that you don’t always need to be a design expert to create designs that resonate with patient communities — you just need to care.
Written by Ameerah Parvez and Pranav Satish