Oncology Project

Usability standards are not enough to deal with cancer as a subject matter. It demands empathic respect.

I was incredibly proud of the first round of designs for this project’s deliverables. It aligned with the most recent standards on usability and function.It was clear to us on how to capture high conversions on the site and how to segment our users but we did not truly understand the depth and emotions with individuals who had just been diagnosed with cancer.

Empathy, Tonality, Content Strategy, UX

GSK Oncology Research, Vaccine Projects - circa 2011

Usability Standards Fall Short

I received feedback from a client on a product that required a level of sensitivity that is not typically practiced in the healthcare industry. Our objective was to build a website that provides emotionally relevant information and easy-to-use interface tools for cancer patients and caregivers. Unfortunately, we failed to adopt a human-centered approach and our initial solution became a learning experience.

During a presentation with the client, we addressed the segmentation of the demographic of patients and caregivers into smaller groups; it was a timeline of seven buttons that captured the cancer journey from “I’ve just been diagnosed” to “I’m a survivor.” This was on the homepage and enabled easy access to targeted information. The lead client, however, expressed partiality towards this design, stating that it was not sensitive to a cancer patient. She painted a scenario of a patient, just diagnosed, arriving on the homepage of the site and clicking on the bold button that crassly stated, “I’ve just been diagnosed.” It would be a hard pill to swallow for anyone who had just been told of his or her fatal condition. Logically, all the components made sense; but it was clear that we were not empathizing with our audience.

Self-segmentation: Targeted content for any part of the patient journey. This came off crass for some.

A New Approach With Tonality

It was an insightful and humiliating criticism. I went back to our client’s values and highlighted adjectives like, “positive,” “inspirational,” and “motivating.” The problem was not in the imagery or segmentation; it was in the content. I simplified the timeline with more appropriate images symbolizing development and growth and also three identifiable buckets: “Fighters,” “Supporters,” and “Survivors.”

This design problem needed the acceptance of a failure, research, and then reframing the product around a basic principle: functionality and logical dimensions must also be coupled with building emotional equity.

Patient-focused experience.
Patient testimonials.
Community Finder
Planner Tool for patients & caregivers
Professional portion of website.
Healthcare Professional-specific tools
Healthcare Professional-specific tools
Leaflet Builder - Helping healthcare professionals help their patients.