How great UX design can change people’s lives

Author

Luke Medlock
  • design
  • UI
  • Disruption

A lifesaving medical treatment.

Meeting the love of your life.

Winning the lottery.

Most people would consider these things to be life changing.

But UX Design?

It’s perhaps not the first thing that would come to mind, even for a designer.

But when almost every aspect of our daily lives is impacted by technology, the user experience of a system or website could certainly play a role in changing someone’s life.

That might be in the area of health and fitness, how they manage money or if they’re disabled, whether they can even access many of the things that others take for granted.

How effectively people are able to interact with a website or gain the information they need will make a difference both to them and the companies offering the service.

After all, prioritising good UX design is a great way of getting repeat visitors and customers.

Below we look at a few areas where UX design is proving to be life changing.  

 

Two doctors using technology to help them save lives

1.  Money

UX design in fintech is a wider topic in and of itself which we’ve talked about in other posts. So, we won’t go into it in too much detail here.

But it deserves to be mentioned as money and personal finances can definitely be life changing! 

Financial literacy among adults in the UK even today is lacking, with almost half of UK adults surveyed being unable to answer basic questions about personal finance. This data from the Money and Pensions service showed that 47% of UK adults don’t feel confident making decisions about financial products.

So do well designed apps and services actually have a positive impact on this?

Studies such as this one from St. Andrews university found that when used for a certain amount of time, apps for loan interest comparison, expenditure, money management and banking helped improve financial capability. This in turn allowed users to gain more stability.

It said that ‘those receiving the apps were more likely to keep track of their income and expenditure and proved to be more resilient when faced with a financial shock.’

With many people entering adulthood with limited financial understanding, it’s often down to products like these to help them get ahead.

With an easy to use UX they’re more likely to pick up the app and make use of its features. 

Infographic of financial capability data from Money and Pensions Service

Data from the Money and Pensions service that shows the potential market need for good fintech products that help financial capability.

 

2.  Healthcare

Most people would agree healthcare has the potential to be life changing.

And there’s lots of places UX design can have an impact, whether that’s keeping people alive in intensive care or alleviating pain and treating an ongoing illness.

In a fast-paced environment like a hospital, it makes sense to have systems and interfaces that are easy to use and yet so often that isn’t the case.

The benefit of good UX here isn’t directly for the consumer but rather the healthcare workers whose job is made easier. It still ends up helping patients by reducing stress and accidents in the workplace and leading to better care.

 

Thoughtful UX design can save lives 

It’s probably fair to say healthcare systems are not known for thoughtful design and the reality is, overly complex UX wastes precious time that could be spent caring for patients.

This article highlighted a couple of cases where systems had been designed to improve ease of use and streamline access to real time data.

And it’s not just in immediately life-threatening situations. Electronic Health Records (EHR’s) are used for a number of things including calculating chemotherapy doses for cancer patients over the course of their treatment. This data is constantly changing and as such it’s a system that is regularly interacted with.

To solve this issue, projects such as this one do away with lengthy workflows and complex, overwhelming user interfaces. It’s still serving a very specific audience (medical professionals) so the data has to be there, but just presented in a way that helps them do their job better.

Hopefully over time more and more of these little design changes and nuanced adjustments will work their way into every aspect of healthcare, saving more and more lives.

 

3.  Fitness 

The influx of tech into the fitness space is well documented and the market is now full of fitness tracking apps and ‘Fitbit’ style wearables.

But beyond being a fashion statement, do they actually help people get fitter and as a result, bring about meaningful change to their lives?

Of course, the look of the Apple watch isn’t just about vanity. If it’s fashionable design and attractive user interface makes you more comfortable wearing it then you’re probably more likely to use it for fitness.

UX also has an impact by changing how easy it is to workout whilst using the app and the speed at which you can personalise the experience.

This onboarding process is particularly important. If it’s too long and detailed, people have an excuse to put off something they are already slightly resistant to doing. However, if it’s too generic and shallow you could still lose people to something that knows them better.

 

Man using Apple Watch for fitness

Designing a personal user experience

Ultimately any fitness app should strike this balance; quick access to the core features whilst maintaining a unique experience.

Some of the apps reviewed in this article made poor UX decisions such as not providing a wide enough range of fitness levels, not tailoring the resulting workouts realistically or providing video content that you couldn’t properly engage with whilst exercising - which is, after all, the point of it in the first place.

Strava is one app that seems to get it right and has a seamless onboarding process. The basic user interface is also easy to use and the core feature of being able to record your runs or cycles is easily accessible.

The gamification element of apps like this – improving your run distance and times, or even being able to draw squiggly lines or fully fledged art on a map with your run – add another incentive for people to spend time with it.

 

4.  Disabled accessibility

Making websites or apps more accessible for people with disabilities is another big win for UX. 

This can help a wide range of people with various physical and learning disabilities but particularly those with visual and hearing impairments.

WHO estimates that 15% of the world’s population is disabled in some way. Of course, it’s hard to know for certain what the number is and some disabilities are often hidden but we know there are disabled people in all walks of life.

UX design can be life changing for these people simply because it makes a whole host of things accessible that weren’t before. These users now have access to the same products and services as everyone else and everyday problems can be solved quicker and easier.

 

So, what does accessibility in UX design look like?

Although there are accessibility guidelines and legal requirements mandated by the UK government there is still a lot more that companies can and should do to make some of their users feel included.

For those with visual impairments this could be things like having alt text on images and clearly laid out instructions and content so that everything can be tracked and read out by a screen reader.

Other improvements might include transcripts and captions of videos for people with hearing impairments, clear buttons and links that make it obvious what will happen when interacted with, and colours that stand out and contrast.

The absence of these things is consistently seen as a barrier to accessibility.

UX is often not about what looks the coolest (or even necessarily visually appealing if it’s only aimed at specific users) but rather what can do the job best and communicate information effectively.

And, disabled people still have plenty of buying power so there’s plenty of financial benefit to companies who create accessible user experiences, so there shouldn't be any excuses not to.

 

The web accessibility icon

The icon signifying web accessibility

How does UX become life changing?

How do you make your user experience one that changes someone’s life?

Well as should be clear from what we’ve explored; it’s all about the audience.

The best place to start when creating an effective user experience is to think about the user. Better yet, talk to the user!

Successful projects and indeed those undertaken by UX design agencies like ours will involve user testing in order to determine the best approach. 

This happens throughout the development process. It’s no good just looking at wireframes all day. Connecting with the people you are trying to serve is essential for creating a positive user experience.

How do they react? Do they do what you want them to do? Can they access the information they need quickly and easily?

The answers to these questions will determine your next steps. 

If you want to experience the impact of good UX design, you’re in the right place. The Bang is a fintech design agency so we’ve probably got what you need!

Thanks for reading, here are some other things.

Power to the people: How fintech is making money more accessible

The last 10 years have seen massive changes in the world of finance.  The old stalwarts of the banking industry are being challenged by clever startups

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Creating Digital Products For Gen Z? 3 Things You Need To Know

With an estimated spending power of $143 billion, Generation Z are swiftly becoming the new Millennial. Everyone’s talking about them, and everyone wants

Honcho Ranks Number 1 in the Insurtech 50

Our client Honcho have taken the top spot in BusinessCloud’s Insurtech 50. The list recognises the UK’s top 50 Insurtech businesses. That’s any startups

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