UX Design Case Study For Santé Circle Health

Michael Mabee
UX Station
Published in
6 min readDec 15, 2018


The Brief: Design Santé Circle Health’s workplace accommodation app SAM, with an emphasis on user comfort and usability.

The Problem

Santé Circle Health was looking to roll out an app to help people get the workplace accommodations that they need to get back to work, based upon a significant set of diagnostic questions.


As a base, we were drawing from our client’s lifetime of experience in the field. To get a fuller picture of people’s experiences in this space, we interviewed eleven people involved in all aspects of the workplace accommodation process: healthcare professionals, managers, evaluators and blue and white collar workers (our users) who had prior experience of the disability and workplace accommodation process.

Drawing upon the results of those interviews, we made up four user personas: Obvious Users, Hidden Users, Managers and Healthcare Professionals. Each would have a different perspective coming into usage of the app. Going forward into the design of the client-facing side the app, we would focus on the Obvious User and Hidden User personas.

User Personas

Jose, our Obvious User
Storyboard for Jose: Panel 1: Jose works as a mechanic in a warehouse, but is having trouble with a sore shoulder. 2: He would like to speak with his manager to find a way to change what he’s doing so that he can continue to work, but his manager is intimidating and Jose feels like he could be replaced if he “complains”. 3: Unable to get his problem solved, Jose is frustrated and his problem continues to get worse.
Abby, our “Hidden” user
Storyboard for Abby: Panel 1: Abby is outwardly holding things together, but is inwardly struggling with a unseen (mental or physical) ailment that she would be mortified if anyone found out about. 2: Her attendance and work are suffering and and her manager is starting to notice. 3: Abby would like to have a way to change the way she works, so that she can keep her job, without becoming the latest topic of office gossip.

Affinity Diagramming

An (abbreviated) Affinity Diagram of the data from our user interviews

In talking with our users about their experiences with the workplace accommodation process, we heard that most of what they had been through was frustrating, difficult or straight-up awful. In order to better parse the information, we broke up all of the interviews into their most granular pieces possible and tried to find ways that they fit together.

The Affinity Diagram that we ended up with put their experiences with Medical Issues, Medical Personnel, the Process and their Employers onto an emotional axis, from negative to positive. Please notice the lack of notes on the positive side of the spectrum.

SAM by Santé Circle Health would help our users with the notes in the darker blue through accommodation, speed up the process and allow medical professionals more time and resources to see to everyone’s serious issues.

Competing Wellness Apps & Services

Competitive comparative analysis for applications in this space.

To wrap up the research phase, we looked at other players in the wellness space, including insurance companies, wellness and mental health apps and the only other workplace accommodation app we could find North America.

What we found was that wellness apps for people who were looking to track their health gave their users a great experience, but had no real power to actually get them help when they needed it. On the other hand, the one workplace accommodation app that had real power to change its users lives gave them an awful experience — enough to drive them away.

Our Goal

Give Santé Circle Health’s users the most comfortable, expedient experience possible, so that they can get the healthcare they need and get back to work sooner.


While working on this project we used the Agile methodology, using Scrum to keep up the entire team up to date on our progress and blockages.

In planning the app, we knew we had two major components that we had to connect for the user: the questionnaire and the reports. We had to make it comfortable and easy for someone who may be in pain or distress to sit through an extended questionnaire (up to 60 questions at one point) to get the results that they want from the accommodation process. This was our user’s flow through the app:

A simplified version of our user’s path through the app while using SAM

In addition to the questions and reports, the key points of the process were:

  1. An easy-to-understand, digestible, informative onboarding process.
  2. Giving milestones to the user that reward their progress through and completion of the questionnaire.
  3. Giving our user enough information to complete their next steps in the process, rather overloading them with an infodump too early.
  4. Using reassuring, clear language throughout the process.

Design & Testing

In the design phase, having seen how others had made the process uncomfortable through mechanical language and de-personalized grey interfaces, we knew what we had to do: we turned to the most reassuring of shapes, the circle (a natural fit for our client, Santé Circle Health), pairing that with a calming, soothing, healthcare-appropriate colour palette.

SAM talks the user through the process.

We explored ways that we could make the process personable, conversational and rewarding. Using illustrations throughout and giving SAM a face made our users more comfortable. Having SAM guide them through the process in a series of conversational speech bubbles made it a warmer experience, without the perception of interrogation that a photo of an actual person might bring.

We took varying levels of English usage and even alternate languages into account. And we tested the questionnaire, eventually whittling it down to the questions that would enable optimal results for the evaluator.

Version 1 vs. Version 4, post-testing

We shaped the questionnaire into a suite of yes/no binary options (always allowing for a ‘not sure’) so that each question required minimal deliberation. Later iterations included strategic emphasis of the wording, so that users could grasp the important parts of the questions while skimming them, making the questionnaire even faster. We also removed every distraction possible (the Home button and Logo) and gave them a Back button, in case they accidentally hit a the wrong response.

In testing, we found a major flaw: the onboarding. We hadn’t centered it on the user— we’d focused on the app and what it does. It left our user feeling unheard and didn’t reassure them that SAM was the solution to their issues. We reformulated it to speak directly to their needs and it resonated much more strongly with subsequent testers.

To see the V4 prototype, please e-mail me at michael@michaelmabee.com.

Accessibility consideration: Colour is not the only means of communication

In moving into the high-fidelity stage, we also did testing to accommodate for colour blindness. Early on we’d thrown around the idea that we could do a red/green, stop/go button combo, but killed that once we looked at colour blindness and how it would have come out to brown/brown for a significant chunk of the population. It made it an easy choice to go with something more on-brand.


To see the High-fi prototype, please e-mail me at michael@michaelmabee.com.


Within 3 weeks, we went from a block of questions and a set of sample reports to a fully-functioning prototype with its own personality. This app will potentially help thousands of people each year get assistance to be better at work, rather than suffering at home in silence.

Moving forward, we’re looking to help create the employer-facing side of the app, so they can better understand the health of their workforce and mitigate their losses due to absenteeism.

Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this case study. If you have any feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can say hello at michael@michaelmabee.com or connect on LinkedIn.



Michael Mabee
UX Station

Multidisciplinary designer and recent graduate of RED Academy. See more at www.michaelmabee.com.