When we talk about “user experience” or “UX”, what do we mean?

Creating products for patients carries unique and important challenges. Even within a single condition, identifying a “typical patient” is virtually impossible – users of apps designed for digital real-world studies will vary in terms of their age and the category and severity of their condition, as well as its potential impact on their attention span, vision, and motor skills. Length, vocabulary, and tone of any user-facing content, as well as how apps look and function, should always be important considerations for app developers; in the case of individuals living with particular conditions, the design process should be catered to that demographic as far as possible.

What are the building blocks for user-friendly study app content?

  • Strike the right tone. With patient-facing content, always aim for a friendly tone. Striking the right balance between friendliness and professionalism is, however, important, to avoid appearing intrusive or disrespectful when communicating with participants.

  • Make text digestible. Be mindful that people have varying levels of medical literacy and interactions with the medical community. It is important not to assume what participants know or don’t know, so limit use of technical terms and avoid littering text with abbreviations.


Mobile application development process flat vector illustration. Software API prototyping and testing background. Smartphone interface building process, mobile app building concept
  • Keep content clear and concise. It is essential to carefully consider the language that is used, the length of words and sentences, how they are presented, and the consistency of their use. Varying the phrasing of questions in bespoke surveys too much and too often, for instance, can make the experience of reading subconsciously jarring for the participant, and require greater concentration. Certain conditions can affect an individual’s visual or motor capabilities making interaction with an app for an extended period particularly tiring, so it’s important that content is concise and clear. Regardless of the study demographic, remain conscious that participants will be seeing text on a small screen: sentences should be kept short and easy to read.

  • Avoid language that could be mis-interpreted or mis-translated. Be alert to language that could be misunderstood, for example euphemisms or idioms, which often lack one specific meaning and cannot be understood literally. In addition, studies may be international, and a phrase that is widely understood in one part of the world may very well be unrecognizable and therefore untranslatable in another. Communicating with participants in a direct and literal manner avoids the possibility of causing confusion or offence through misinterpretation.

Why is UX a priority in digital real-world studies?

Our focus in the design and development of our clients’ studies is patient-centricity. To maximize data collection and the quality of data collected, it is vital for participants to be able to use our apps and enter data with ease. The more data collected, the better our understanding of the real-world implications of living with certain conditions for patients and their caregivers.

If you are interested in finding out how we can help you design an impactful digital real-world study tailored to your target demographic, get in touch using info@vitaccess.com.

By Laura Ellis and Fatemeh Amini

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