Modern healthcare is constantly improving, in terms of the possibilities for mending human bodies; however, more often than ever, the industry looks (and is) quite a mess. The more information there is, the more difficult it can be to organize it – we learned it the hard way as a prototype/design company.
Billions of pharmacy titles, recipes, prescriptions, analysis descriptions, recommendations, and other written data are being stocked on a number of various online portals that serve everybody and nobody all at the same time.
In addition, just about every clinic or medicine center with access to the internet dreams of having some kind of software to make interactions with patients easier and clearer.
Now is a great opportunity to make a change with healthcare applications. Smartphones have become dedicated mediums between healthcare facilities and their patients; however, to succeed with this mission, apps should be a mandatory addition. If not, there’s no point in getting started.
In this context, UX and UI design for mobile health apps has become the cornerstone for success. When we at the EGO design and prototyping company had been working on apps for CentralReach, it was the design process that shaped the look and feel of the end product after numerous concepts and sketches.
With it, even though the medical application market is quite saturated, there’s still a chance to rise above the fray. Professionals designing healthcare apps and actually bringing them to market have to consider a number of equally important aspects such as:
- Attractive UI design
- High security
These are all essential for success; however, in this article, we would like to talk specifically about the healthcare app UI. With bad UI, you can forget about customers, which, of course, you should never do.
Difficulties in overcoming medical app design issues
Creating applications for businesses, running, guitar tuning or gardening can be easier when you distinguish the general characteristics of your potential target audience. Keep in mind what this target audience likes and dislikes, and take it as a starting point.
In the medical industry, the process is slightly different for design and prototype companies. Mobile healthcare solutions are meant to be used by a large variety of people with different visual acuity and hearing abilities, age, physical and psychological characteristics, health conditions, and attitudes. The target audience here is usually wider, which makes it more complicated.
The main function of health app design is to make the app accessible for each and every potential user who is a potential patient. Consider the limitations that they might possibly have, and try to overcome the negative impact those limitations may bring along.
For example, color vision often declines with age, as well as the ability to see small fonts. This doesn’t mean that there should be two colors on your site and all the text should be in a huge font, but what it does mean is that the UI designer will have a bit of a challenge. They need to ask how they can make it work for all potential users on the market, which can actually be easier than it seems at first glance.
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UI design tricks to create helpful healthcare apps
Play with color
Can you imagine a healthcare app based on bright yellow or red background color? Not really. There are some hints and tips when it comes to color, that can be used as general guidelines. First of all, the medical industry is expressed better with cold tones that are calming and soothing, and do not pull too much attention or irritate (which is good for anything health-related). Here are the most common colors that can be used while designing Health apps:
Blue. Have you noticed that this color is the most popular in most clinics around the world? If the doctor’s clothing is not white, it’s almost always blue, instead. This color symbolizes “loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust”. Having blue as a background color promises a tranquil environment – exactly what is needed while searching through medical services; however, overdoing it can be dangerous. Firstly, not all cultures have the same interpretation, and, secondly, you are at risk of being associated with somebody else in the field. Professional designers can add elements to help you stand out in the crowd of similar-colored apps.
Green. This is the color of nature and health. What can be more appropriate than using it for a healthcare-related app? Only the fact that it is mostly used for environmental projects or herbal medicine. The connotation can be quite strong, so, unless you want to be associated with natural treatments, keep the green under control. At the same time, combining green and blue is often a great idea. For example, Doctaly used these two colors successfully, as well as Albany Medical Clinic.
White. The most common color for clean and clear design. There are many different shades that can be used if you feel like plain white is too simple a background. Ivory, snow, sea sand, baby powder – the list is endless. If you do choose to use white, make sure to add some bright and contrasting elements to avoid the feeling of a surgery room. Even though the connotation might make sense, in this case, it’s usually not encouraged to make a site look too clinical for its patients.
Pink. This color is often associated with small children and women. If you are working on healthcare app design, it might make sense to implement some pink elements, but make sure they are not too bright, as there are many people who have a distaste for bright pink. Check out Venus Medical to see how they utilize elements of this color without overdoing it.
Well-selected color schemes help patients get a general image of your medical institution or service right away.
Pay attention to every button
Visible and conveniently located buttons are part of an accessible design, that’s a practice used by every UI/UX design company. It’s not uncommon for a user to want to sign up but experience a struggle if they cannot find the form right away. This user might as well be lost as a customer unless he or she has a very strong motivation to keep looking for that button. It also greatly depends on the device in use and the size of its screen. There might be some issues with smaller screens, but it is not worth losing potential customers over.
Keep in mind that the average adult fingertip is about 1cm in size. Android recommends starting with 7cm, which is 48px. Apple has slightly different standards, and suggests starting with 44px; however, if the potential audience of your application includes elderly people or those with bad eyesight, the controls should be even larger, otherwise, users can be simply annoyed by the impossibility of pushing these buttons.
Buttons of the right size in the right places help patients do what they need with your app without annoyance.
Fonts and alignments are still important
Technology develops fast, but fonts are mostly the same. Some are more effective than others, though. For top usability, all fonts should be balanced with each other and the whole user interface design. Kerning, the distance between two characters of a font, is also important to consider, as it greatly influences readability and general comfort of use. The best option here is to personalize configurations based on the UI design of the application.
As for text alignment, it depends greatly on the target audience. Some languages are organized in a right-to-left format. For native speakers, it might be difficult to read paragraphs with the left side of the screen alignment; however, this is not the only issue in question. Another one is that properly positioned text makes the screen clearer, and clarity is one of the cornerstones of modern UI design.
Balanced fonts and well-aligned text help patients understand the written messages and act faster.
Select icons and images responsibly
The purpose of the icon is to show facts and actions schematically. Medical topics have quite a long history, so there are many icons that are intuitively understandable. Keeping the balance between originality and clarity can be a challenge. The last thing you want in a healthcare application is to confuse patients and make their lives more complicated.
The story with pictures is slightly different. There are thousands of websites and apps using the same basic stock photographs featuring smiling doctors and happy families. Going beyond this can improve UI significantly. Pictures are not used just to add some bright colors to the page, they are used to add real value to the application. What is the main purpose of the app? If it’s to help with scheduling appointments, the picture should feature time logs, not smiles.
Intuitive icons and relevant pictures help interest and excite more patients while interacting with the application, which doesn’t sound practical but, nevertheless, is quite important.
Follow your checklist
Improving healthcare app UI, or developing it from scratch, is a process that is supposed to have several points of concentration for the designer working on the project, including:
- Color scheme, taking into account color meanings
- Main page layout, stating the purpose of the app clearly and with no confusion
- Buttons of the right sizes in the right places
- Balanced fonts and logical alignment
- Icons that help but never confuse
- Images that add value to the app purpose
This is a checklist for any designer who aims to create a worthwhile product in healthcare. When all aspects are combined and well-thought through, then you can guarantee that patients will be really satisfied with the application. As mentioned above, interaction with the app starts with UI design. Make sure to cover off that step at the beginning, so that patients can actually get to the functions they so desperately need, once your app is in use.
Last but not least
We’d love to tell you that you can finish the UX/UI stage and proceed to the development phase, but app design is a never-ending process. You will get feedback from users and want to add new features, and that will lead to design changes.
On the Uberdoc project, our design and development company was initially invited as developers since the product was already designed. However, very soon we got involved in designing the user flow and design and still improve the platform. We also have cases when clients approached us only for UX/UI services as they had strong development teams but no expertise in meeting users' expectations on product experience and design.
If you have any questions or want to know more about other aspects of app UX/UI design, you can drop us a line, but we bet you already have a product or an idea of it to work on.