Dictaphone provides physicians with tools to dictate reports after patient encounters. They asked me to do the UI design for their first Web-based application, so I formed a design team for the job. The first product was Physician Workstation (below), followed by GoMD (the handheld version), a microphone for dictation, and other tools.
We customized our design process for this project:
Discovery phase: We analyzed their plans and did brainstorming to refine the feature list. Focus groups with physicians and others added important information. We created user scenarios that we refined in successive projects.
Design phase: Frequent reviews of prototypes and imagery helped refine the designs and select appropriate colors and graphics.
Our first prototype was a set of simple Excel macros, just to get across the basic interactions. We used it in early, low-fidelity usability studies with physicians. Later, made a more realistic prototype for another study. These sessions helped us understand user needs.
Delivery phase: Instead of writing a long design spec, we a brief summary of the interactions and visual design. The interactive prototype helped them see how we intended it to work.
Someone said: This is [our] first product that looks like it was designed with the user in mind.
Here's why this was a successful design:
Ease of use. Usability testing identified problems before the engineers wrote any code. For example, we learned that physicians don't want to do any data entry tasks, so we simplified many of their interactions.
Ease of implementation. The combination of written specs and an animated prototype made it easier for the engineers to implement the application.
Ease of extensibility. It was easy to modify the design as subsequent features and releases came about. It even ported to the iPAQ easily.
We've heard lots of good feedback from the customers and Dictaphone staff.
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