Our Thoughts On World Usability Day 2013

Annie Stone, Director of Marketing
#Accessibility | Posted

Today we join the worldwide community of usability enthusiasts in celebrating World Usability Day! This annual event has been celebrated since 2005 and has focused on various themes concerning usability in the world.

This year the world usability day is spotlighting healthcare.  Everyone is affected by usability in health care in some way, whether you are a healthcare professional, healthcare administrator, or like most of us, a healthcare consumer.  As digital user experience strategists here at Phase2, this topic resonated with us in the form of usability in healthcare sites. We aim to improve user experience for the diverse set of user groups that interact with national healthcare websites and platforms. Here are some usability considerations that we implement in our healthcare client’s websites to improve efficiency, clarity, and readability:

Site Search

When it comes to usability, search is one of our top considerations.  A good search structure and interface can mean the difference between health consumers being able to access their medical benefits, service providers, or medical information. On the other side of the coin, search can be integral for healthcare providers to find patient information and medical records. Tony Russell-Rose wrote a great piece titled "The Dimensions of Search User Experience" which outlines a lot of the search considerations that need to be implemented when developing a usable search function. We honed our own search development chops when we designed and developed Georgia.Gov's platform-wide search functionality and mobile search tools.  Read more about our search development strategy here.

User Management

User management and elegant workflow systems are imperative to an efficient content administrator team, and for quality website content.  Perhaps most important for healthcare websites: a well crafted and intuitive user management process will ensure that only quality content is published to end users and hopefully more medical errors will be caught before causing an issue. At Phase2, we often work with clients who need a workflow system for large content administrator teams who need to create, review, and publish content in an efficient and timely manner.  In these cases usability of the internal editorial system is just as important as any outwardly facing functionality. Read more about how we build workflow management systems keeping ease of use in mind:

Content Anywhere

As the increasingly large number of studies show, people are spending more time on the internet via mobile devices.  When it comes to websites that provide healthcare information to the public, it is important that anyone can access this information from any device.  The navigation user experience of an iphone needs to be considered just as much as a desktop user if not more. Josh Cooper writes about responsive navigation considerations while working on Penn State's responsive theme in his blog post "Leveraging Responsive Design Patterns For Penn State's Online Experience."

Accessibility

Access to healthcare information for ALL site visitors should always be a priority.  Can a person who is visually impaired access information about their medical service providers using a screen-reader?  Has the website's design incorporated color contrast considerations?  Do videos and sound bites offer closed captioning to people who are hearing impaired?  These are all usability considerations that can improve digital healthcare.  Our accessibility thought leader, Catharine McNally discusses accessibility site testing in her blog post "Oh Good GAAD – Phase2′s Day of Accessibility Testing"

The intersection between user behavior, design, and development, is at the crux of this usability conversation.  It is not up to any single one of these groups to create accessible, user-friendly sites, but working together, we can use technology to improve digital healthcare usability and accessibility. This year's World Usability Day healthcare theme is a great way to groundswell discussion and innovation in the digital healthcare space.  We look forward to continuing this conversation throughout the healthcare and tech community to create new standards of usability. If you are like us, and just can't get enough usability and user experience information, check out even more of our thoughts:

 

Annie Stone

Director of Marketing