We recently talked with Amy Cueva of Mad*Pow about an area of online healthcare communications that all too frequently falls to the wayside. Namely, design. With clients including the Journal Watch, Aetna, McKesson, and Google, Amy and her team of 25 coworkers have some serious design chops. She shared some thoughts about usability and design.
Q: Amy, why don’t you tell us about a specific case? What did you do for Journal Watch?
A: We wanted to understand Journal Watch’s target audience - specifically, how they currently consume information, and how they might do it in the future, if it were available digitally. We needed to understand their relationship with online technology, to understand their “digital habits.” So, we took a look at everything they’d done in the past, and then did a ton of additional research to understand what makes these people tick and basically predict future information consumption.
That research helped us generate personas or archetypes of different types of doctors. So, for example, you have the “old salt,” the doctor who has decades of hands-on experience, but isn’t necessarily web savvy and isn’t keen on trying new technology. And on the other hand, there’s the recent med school graduate who’s totally wired, ready to try every new tool, and completely ready to change the world. Understanding these iconic user groups takes people out of the abstract and helped get everyone on the same page with regard to marketing.
Q: I’m a big fan of personas but I know others are critical of them. Did your clients find value in them?
Before you even begin the process of generating personas, you need to have the key stakeholders understand the value. They have to know that persona development is work that can be reused throughout their organization, from marketing and sales to customer service. They need to understand how it can help to coordinate everyone’s thinking around the customers’ experience.
One client actually used our persona results as the basis for redesigning their lobby. They knew that if their ideal customer was highly visual, their lobby better make a big impression - through color, furnishings, and other visual elements. On the other hand, if our work showed that the target client was impressed by big client names or anything else like that, then their marketing efforts needed to reflect this learning.
Q: What are some practical tips you can give our readers for establishing their own websites and online marketing efforts?
A: There are three things I’d recommend. First, watch how people interact with your website. Take three people. For three one-hour sessions. One morning a month. Are they going where you want them to go? Where do they spend the most time? Do they ever get frustrated or lost?
Next, consider your audience - or the people you wish were your audience. What makes them tick? Put yourself in their shoes. Or at their keyboard. Say it’s a woman, expecting her first baby. What do you think is going through her mind when she logs on and starts researching hospitals? Does she want to be able to make an appointment online? Does she want to know if her insurance company will cover the birth? Does she want to connect with other women who’ve chosen a particular birth center? Make a list of everything this person might want to know when she goes online. And then, make a list of what you want her to walk away knowing. Building a bridge between those two lists is the foundation of a great user experience.
And, finally, think about destination websites and about how people get to them. Chances are they don’t get there by typing in a URL. They get there from Google. Or because a friend sent them a link. Or because they read about it in a blog. You may have the best website in the world, but you can’t just sit around waiting for people to come and find you. You have to make your presence known. Write a newsletter, comment on someone else’s blog. Send texts or tweets. Spread your message virally via social media and let people connect and share it amongst themselves. If you consistently speak to your audience, they’ll hear you, and they’ll find you, in their own way, and in their own time. Your job is to make sure that you’re ready for them when they get there.