We’ve loved this project and it’s been everything an internship should be: fun, rewarding and challenging in equal measures. We have appreciated the privilege of driving a project with a high degree of autonomy but with the essential support and input from experienced designers and researchers.

In this final blog from us we wanted to share our main takeaways:

A worried well patient sitting on the sofa looking at her phone. A screen showing the self treat interface
A still from our Self treat concept video

We learned to turn challenge into opportunity

During our research phase we ensured a good diversity of research. Uncovering conflicting research, which we initially saw as a challenge, showed us a problem that needed solving, and with the help of a fellow Clearleft designer this led to our dashboard concept to help bridge gaps in understanding between two groups of stakeholders.

It taught us the importance of always being curious to get underneath what people are saying; after all, they’re human, and subject to the same bias’ and behaviors anyone is. UX Design is all about questioning to get to the closest place of truth and designing from there.

We became a bit more comfortable with not being comfortable

The design process is fraught with unknowns. Again, making sense of a large set of problems left us in the period of the unknown for a long time. It’s perhaps a natural human desire to seek certainty, but we learned to relax a little more in the uncertainty and trust the process. To do that we had to use the design approach to guide us, and use the UX methods to help us. At points we questioned how we could add value and be impactful in a short period, conscious of lots of factors around feasibility and innovation. Ultimately though we kept moving forward, and we ended up with a service that we believe in.

Collaboration strengthens design

We’ve been working in a studio full of talented UX designers, researchers, visual designers. Whenever we were unsure of something, at a design milestone or simply felt a chat would be useful we reached out and used the experience of others to give a different perspective. This is something we will continue to seek in our future roles as it was, without fail, incredibly insightful.

We also really appreciated the team dynamic throughout the internship. We all come from different backgrounds and we have different ways of working but we realised how our methods complement one another.

Language is crucial to user experience

Healthcare is a fascinating, important area for technology to impact and we were excited to work in this space. We also appreciated more and more throughout our research that designing in this space has a greater depth and breadth of human emotion to consider. It’s also perhaps the industry that carries the most risk - getting it wrong can be literally fatal. Language is even more important, and safetynetting and considering edge cases were crucial.

Don’t spend too much time in early stage research

Our biggest takeaway was not to spend too much time in research. Keen to feel like we were making sufficiently informed choices, it took us five weeks to narrow into our focal topic before further research to go deeper into this. The weight of the ‘right decision’ weighed fairly heavily, but on reflection we knew intuitively almost in week one what we did in week five. We also learned that it’s easy to stay safe in the secondary research. It’s hard having conversations with users in a large problem space but we now know to talk to people sooner, even in the uncertainty.

Speaking to user’s earlier, and not staying ‘too wide’ for too long would have given us a longer design phase to concept test with more people, develop the prototype and conduct usability testing.

Holly and Lacin sat at the kitchen table with laptops

We’re looking forward to our next projects, taking with us the knowledge that every challenge is an opportunity, discomfort is normal, we should seek input at every opportunity, language is crucial, and most important of all, speaking to users early in any project is central to true user-centred design.

You can read about the project at www.selftreat.co.uk.

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