When Was The Last Time You Used Your Product?
Frank tucked a white napkin into the collar of his shirt and picked up his knife and fork. He had done this every day of the week for ten years.
He looked at the label, “Chicken & Rice,” it said.
Sounds nice, he thought.
He cut himself a slice of the food and put it into his mouth, assessing the complex array of flavours that tantalised his pallet.
It was good.
He held up the tin of Yummy Pup dog food. “We’re going to sell a lot of this,” he said.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “eating your own dog food.” But, just in case you haven’t, it refers to the act of using your own product so you understand the experience being offered to your customers.
This becomes increasingly difficult when you are developing clinical software and you are very much removed from a medical setting. This only increases the importance of understanding the user experience you are providing.
Software testing practices all too often do not consider the experience of using your application as part of its scripts. Instead, it is looking at whether button A does what it is supposed to, and that there is not a resulting crash or an unexpected behaviour in a certain scenario.
This means you can end up with a perfectly functioning turd.
The project has been completed on time, to spec, to budget – but every user hates what you just released.
“It’s like they don’t understand what I’m doing,” say users.
It’s true. The Development team probably have no idea what the kind of users who would utilise this functionality actually does. There has also, most likely, been little thought given to “innovating” this job.
The fastest way to improving your products and user experience is to sit down and do the jobs of your users. Manage beds, create consultation notes, summarise records, handle prescriptions, register patients, deal with appointments, etc in a live environment where you will be able to assess exactly how someone uses your product.
Within minutes, you’ll be writing things down in your notepad that need to be desperately changed.
Sadly, this kind of work is rare and underrated by most software development houses – including digital health.
Across the board, I see examples of terrible user interfaces, workflows, and design. It’s upsetting to see just how much poor software we make healthcare staff put up with. And this inadequate development leads to wasted time and effort that could be better placed elsewhere.
It’s not going to be easy, but you should make it a priority to ensure that you, or people in your business, are using your software on a regular basis.
And hey, Frank really likes the taste of Yummy Pup dog food. He has to eat it every day, after all – so he makes sure it’s only the best.