Combining UX and app development

User Experience & Usability

mobile device icons representing ux and app development concept Combining ergonomics, UX and app development skills on an innovative employee wellbeing initiative

Our UX team’s always up for a challenge. So when a leading multinational professional services client talked to us about a failing ergonomics e-learning product, we saw the opportunity to bring both our UX and app development skills to bear. “Sure, we’ll create a web native, Android and IoS compatible mobile app that spearheads your commitment to employee wellbeing!” we said.

screenshot of ergonomics appCreating the workplace of the future

The client’s e-learning app formed part of its efforts to advance the concept of the ‘workplace of the future’. Essentially, this involved creating the infrastructure and culture to support employee wellbeing, and flexible working – encompassing a wide variety of working environments and contexts (at home; while travelling; at third party premises; in hot desking areas; using standing desks; etc). That’s where our health, safety and ergonomics expertise came in.

The problem: failing app left client exposed

The client’s e-learning app was designed to assist its employees in setting-up and/or optimising their work areas. While the training was mandatory, the app just wasn’t achieving employee buy-in: take-up was a lowly 20%. Hardly surprising perhaps, when the consensus was that the app was outdated, complicated and slow to use.

All this left our client exposed: to potential legal sanctions due to it failing to meet its obligations; to possible financial compensation claims and lost productivity, should employees suffered avoidable injuries; and to the reputational damage that would inevitably follow.

“This project was a great opportunity to apply intelligent UX thinking and skills to app development, showing the value we can bring in addition to our renowned UX testing and research services.” Paul Thorpe | Director, Creative Services | System Concepts

Starting point

Fortunately our team has a very close working relationship with the client, and we were able to quickly start work, harnessing our teams’ ergonomics, UX and app development skills to address the problem.

We started by developing prototypes to demonstrate our proposed designs, and the proposed look and feel of the app. We sought to create an innovative, complementary ergonomics based solution that users would warm to – an easily accessible quick reference guide that they would find genuinely useful.

image showing person using app to work at homeKeeping user experience at the forefront of content creation

Our ergonomics specialists were also responsible for creating the 6 content sections, corresponding to a series of different working environments /contexts. Some of this content provided general ergonomic advice, while some was highly specific to our client.

screenshot of workplace ergonomics appWe distilled all the information down into concise, easy to follow, step by step processes. Punchy text descriptions accompanied clear visual prompts, and were backed-up with straightforward user questionnaires, with instructions on how to get further assistance where needed.

Just as important as creating strong content, we kept the user experience at the forefront of our work. As a result the app is fun, friendly and engaging, with easy touch interactions that invite the user to get involved.

Having a clearly established process for this challenge ensured that expectations were clearly understood, and that we and our client had a mutual understanding of the project requirements and end point. Getting the content right was key, and was the subject of extensive liaison and discussion.

“It’s been really satisfying developing a new, more engaging app. The user testing feedback has been really encouraging: we’re confident that uptake levels will be strong and that the app will meet users’ needs.” In-house app developer | System Concepts

Naturally, we placed a lot of emphasis on testing the app with users. We ran testing sessions with about 15 users, and produced a full UX report that was presented back to the developers. After fine-tuning some of the language/terminology and calls to action, we were ready to present it to our client.

Next steps

The client is currently completing final security testing on the app, before it is made available to employees via their corporate app store. It’s important to drive adoption with a proactive approach, and we will be assisting the client with communications campaign ideas to help maximise take-up.

“Our innovative, low cost ergonomics app is currently going through the client’s rigorous security testing programme. It will then be launched on their employee app store. In the future, we may offer a generic public version via the Google Play, Apple and other app stores.” Paul Thorpe | Director, Creative Services | System Concepts

Boosting organisational performance

From our consultants’ perspective, combining our ergonomics, UX and app development capabilities has been an exciting opportunity, applying the techniques and professional knowledge we usually employ on external client projects, to one we were in direct control of. More importantly, we’ve been able to deliver an outstanding solution for our client, that we’re confident will help support employee wellbeing, mitigate risk, and underpin organisational performance.

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