User Experience for Digital Health Apps

This report presents user-experience guidelines and strategic considerations for designing mobile health and wellbeing apps. The recommended guidelines are not based on the author’s personal opinions, but the outcome of user research conducted on 20 health and wellbeing apps. In total, 100 remote unmoderated user testing sessions were conducted and analysed to understand what UX design patterns are preferred by digital health app users.

Topics

The guidelines cover the following health app functionalities:

  • Onboarding
  • Goal setting
  • Health tracking
  • Displaying health data
  • Content and health education
  • Trust and credibility
  • Providing recommendations
  • Health communities

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Description

Did you know…

  • According to statista.com, engaging and quality design is the second most important factor that would convince people to use health apps more frequently
  • In a survey conducted by IBM, 95% of respondents said that ‘ease of use’ is the main reason for choosing one digital health solution over another.
  • Both the NHS and FDA include usability and human factors requirements in the approval process for healthcare applications

About this report

This report presents user-experience guidelines and strategic considerations for designing mobile health and wellbeing apps. The recommended guidelines are not based on the author’s personal opinions, but the outcome of user research conducted on 20 health and wellbeing apps. In total, 100 remote unmoderated user testing sessions were conducted and analysed to understand what UX design patterns are preferred by digital health app users.

Topics

The guidelines cover the following health app functionalities:

  • Onboarding
  • Goal setting
  • Health tracking
  • Displaying health data
  • Content and health education
  • Trust and credibility
  • Providing recommendations
  • Health communities

Who should read this report

Startup founders, product managers and designers who care about the user experience and are dedicated to helping people improve their wellbeing through user-centred, engaging digital health solutions.

What’s in the report

  • 70 actionable, research-based guidelines to create digital health apps users want to use
  • 203 examples of those guidelines in practice, with annotated screenshots and quotes from user testing sessions
  • Self-scoring tool – an interactive checklist to help you evaluate your app against the guidelines

Tested apps

Fitness and nutrition apps

  • Fitbit Coach
  • Seven – 7 min workouts
  • 30 Day Challenge
  • 8fit
  • MyPlate
  • Lifesum
  • Aaptiv
  • Yazio

Mental health and wellness apps

  • Headspace
  • Stop Think & Breathe
  • What’s Up
  • MyPossibleSelf
  • HiMoment
  • Shine
  • Daylio
  • Grow

Female health tracking apps

  • Moody Month
  • Flo
  • Sanity&Self
  • Clue

Methodology

This report is based on unmoderated remote user testing of 20 health and wellbeing apps. Each app was tested by 5 participants, so the report covers a total of 100 user testing sessions. 

Remote unmoderated user testing is an asynchronous research method. That means participants receive a list of tasks and questions. They interact with the app in their own time and on their own devices. They record their interaction with the app and provide verbal feedback about their experience using a screen and voice recording application. The findings are based on qualitative analysis of the recordings submitted by the test participants. Submitted recordings tend to be around 20 minutes long. In total, about 30 hours of video recordings were analysed to inform the guidelines presented in this report. 

Participants were recruited through an online testing platform and a mix of behavioural and demographic criteria was applied to ensure the relevance of the feedback:

  • All of the 8 fitness and nutrition apps were tested with participants who indicated that they had searched for fitness or meal planning resources within the 3 months before the study 
  • 6 out of 9 mental health apps were tested with participants who indicated that they had searched for mental health resources within the 3 months before the study 
  • 3 out of 9 mental health apps were tested with participants representing a general audience (without special pre-screening criteria) 
  • Demographic criteria were applied to select female participants to test all 3 female health apps 

The age range of participants varied from 18 to 58. Most participants were based in English-speaking countries (UK, Canada or the USA) with some participants from Jordan, India and Brazil. All sessions were conducted in English.

Additional information

Author

Marta Denkiewicz

Research method

Unmoderated user testing

Number of participants

100

Number of tested apps

20