Imagine you’re stepping into an elevator on your way to the 62nd floor for a big interview. Maybe you’re running a few minutes late, and you’re extra nervous. You have a coffee in one hand and your portfolio in the other.
You go to push the button for floor number 62 and find … Instead of going in an order that makes sense — 1 … 2 … 3 … — with the higher floors at the top of the panel, all of the numbers are out of numerical order.
Thankfully, elevators don’t work this way. We have expectations for how an elevator is set up, and these expectations allow us to get in and out effortlessly. And when there are changes, we hope that they make our experience easier — not harder.
In general, people want to be able to get things done — to accomplish the tasks that they set out to do. This is true whether they are trying to get to their interview on time or to make an appointment with a provider through your healthcare website.
Making these tasks easier is where user experience comes in.
What Is UX — Or User Experience?
So, what actually is user experience? Also called UX, and user experience design, you may have heard a wide range of terms and buzzwords attempt to explain this field.
When trying to understand what UX is, it can be just as helpful to understand what UX is not.
User Experience (UX) Is Not:
- Visual Design
- Graphic Design
- Customer Experience
- Service Design
User experience isn’t just making stuff pretty. It also isn’t even just making sure everything “works.”
At its simplest, user experience is how a person experiences a specific product, like your healthcare website. User experience design is when we center that user experience — the users’ abilities, limitations, needs, and values — in our design processes from beginning to end.
If you’ve read some of our other posts on the CareContent blog, you’ll know we love a good bee metaphor. Queen bee roles, anyone? That’s why we love the honeycomb model of user experience.
There are seven facets that make up the user experience honeycomb. Your healthcare website should be:
In this model, it’s important that good UX goes beyond our ideas of just “usability.” User experience is made up of multiple parts— like a honeycomb. When fit together, they provide a strong foundation for user experience.
But they are also worth examining on their own, meaning with limited resources or budget, you can still choose one meaningful facet of UX to focus on and see meaningful results.
Why UX In Healthcare Matters
Understanding UX is one thing, but being able to understand why it matters — and express that to the powers that be — can be a little harder.
Bad UX is Bad For Business
In a 2020 survey, 50% of healthcare consumers said that their whole experience could be ruined by a bad digital experience with a provider — and 26% would switch to a new provider if it meant a better digital experience.
The elevator example is easy to understand, especially because it’s a task we do often enough to be able to see where a breakdown in ease or experience happens. But we take a lot of what we do for granted with digital tasks. Digital technologies have become so sleek (and minimalist) that we don’t always reflect on how they’re actually working.
Except we do notice when they’re not working.
You notice when an online form is hard to fill out — even if you can’t put your finger on why. You may get frustrated if a website loads really slowly or if the colors are particularly harsh on your eyes. Your whole experience with a healthcare organization can be defined by one bad experience with their online scheduler.
“User experience is understanding the business needs, user needs, and the data, so you can play with tangible variables to obtain the desired results. A UX designer understands those business needs and user needs — and is able to find the sweet spot in that Venn diagram to create the best user experience.”
Having a good user experience is key to any product, service, or website — and this is even more true when it comes to healthcare.
People who come to your healthcare website may be looking for health information or a provider. They may want to feel comforted or assured. The appointment they’re making may be something they need to get done on their short lunch break or it may be something that they’ve been building up the courage to do for a long time.
Whatever the case may be, ensuring a good user experience will help them accomplish their goals.
Make Good User Experience A Healthcare Priority
While incorporating user experience design into your digital strategy can feel like a big task, ultimately, it’s important to remember that — like anything else — it’s a process. It takes time to get things right. Just making changes that you or your organization think will create better UX solely for the sake of making changes won’t get you where you want to go.
It’s important to leave room to ask yourself questions about the changes you’ve made and to measure their impact.
Are people clicking on the buttons you’ve designed?
Are users accomplishing tasks more efficiently — and have you asked them?
From testing to designing to measuring results, centering users and their experience at the heart of your work will lead to better outcomes for you and your patients.