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UX Design for Vets


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PTSD is a growing concern for Veterans and their families. About 1 in 5 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans has PTSD or depression. This creates an ongoing need for clear, easy-to-use PTSD information and support. The VA is interested in improving their PTSD website to better meet the needs of their target audiences, particularly Veterans who have PTSD or are concerned they may have it.

To inform an upcoming redesign, the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) worked with [Company] to conduct extensive formative and usability research with Veterans with PTSD, their family and friends, and clinicians who treat PTSD.

In this session, we’ll talk about our research process from beginning to end, highlighting the voices of Veterans and their families. We’ll share lessons learned and address the knowledge gained from our human-centered design process.

Published in: Design
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UX Design for Vets

  1. 1. Sandy Hilfiker, MA Principal, Chief Experience Officer UX Design for Vets
  2. 2. About us   Small, woman-owned, mission-based health communication company   National leader in health literacy   Create digital health tools that can be accessed, understood, and used by people in their daily lives   Support state, federal, and private organizations
  3. 3. Agenda  Warm up  PTSD website redesign overview  Methods  Key findings  Lessons learned
  4. 4. Lifetime Prevalence of PTSD   Vietnam Vets: 30%   Iraqi Freedom: 11-20%   Gulf War: 12%   Almost 25% of women Vets report being sexually assaulted while in the military   55% of women and almost 40% of men report experiencing sexual harassment while in the military
  5. 5. Warm up   Imagine you’re creating a website on PTSD for Veterans and family members   Write down one word or phrase that comes to mind when you think about what this website should be   Turn to the person next to you, share your word and why you picked it
  6. 6. Project Overview
  7. 7. Goal Redesign the VA’s National Center for PTSD website to be more user-friendly for Vets, family members, and clinicians who treat PTSD. Make the site more patient-centered.
  8. 8. A tale of two websites
  9. 9. Our challenge   Working within the template   Multiple and sometimes competing audience needs   Recruiting Vets with PTSD   Understanding the unique online information needs of Vets with PTSD
  10. 10. Health Literacy
  11. 11. We struggle with complex health information.
  12. 12. Living with PTSD Common complaints from people living with PTSD include issues with concentration, attention, and memory.
  13. 13.
  14. 14. Methods
  15. 15. Methods   Analytics analysis   Content and usability audit   Focus groups with Veterans and family members   IDIs with clinicians   Baseline usability testing with eye tracking   Card sorting with Veterans and clinicians   Click testing   Prototype testing Total Participants: 152
  16. 16. Focus Groups with Collaging
  17. 17. Highlights   Wanted to see more in-depth and tailored content (by war, branch, and type of trauma)   Seek out online information about PTSD, mostly from institution and government websites   Identified resources such as self-help tools and support groups as the highest priorities   Identified “You are not alone” as a key message or theme they would want to see on a PTSD website
  18. 18.     “I think that when dealing with PTSD, I feel like sometimes civilian PTSD is way different than military PTSD, and a lot of information out there is on civilian PTSD. Even in the military, the type of PTSD I experience as a Navy Vet is totally different than someone in the Army.”
  19. 19.     “I’ve found a support group on Facebook — I have an OTH discharge. It’s pretty much like the VA, there’s not a lot of support so we have to find support in other places.”
  20. 20. Collaging   Par+cipants  create  a   collage  that  represents  the   characteris+cs  they  would   like  to  see  in  a  new   Website       Result:  Provides  insights   into  users’  needs  normally   not  revealed  in  interviews   and  focus  groups    
  21. 21.     We can do this together
  22. 22.     Support, there can be life
  23. 23.     Feeling small, feeling alone.
  24. 24. Baseline Usability Testing with Eye Tracking
  25. 25. Highlights Strengths:   Wealth of material   Information is research-based   Video and text formats available   Apps available for self-help   Videos production is high quality Weaknesses:   Duplicative content, and sometimes outdated   Public/Professional structure causes confusion   Content is hard to find—even after being found once   Systematic or thorough exploration of the site is difficult   Visual design and page layout do not guide visual search   PTSD search functionality not easy to find
  26. 26. Order   AOI   %  views   Median   TTFF   1   Carousel   image   100%   0.39   2   Content   tabs   93%   2.25   3   Public   header   75%   3.92   4   Main  nav   87%   4.28   5   Local   search   50%   5.29   6   Main   content     93%   11.95   8   Right   column   50%   70.36  
  27. 27. Card Sorting
  28. 28. Homepage   Understand  PTSD   Get  Help  and  Treatment   For  Families  and  Friends   Professional  Training  and  Tools   PTSD  Research   About  Us   En  Español  
  29. 29. Click Testing
  30. 30. Veterans often used multiple paths to get to the same content — for example, using the left navigation items and links on the main page (much more than clinicians).
  31. 31. Veterans overwhelmingly understood that the Get Help and Treatment page was intended for consumers. They also understood where they could find provider-oriented treatment content.
  32. 32. 5/20/17 OBXtek Inc., Proprietary Most participants missed the PTSD Search bar. Many went to the VA site-wide search instead.
  33. 33. Design
  34. 34. Voice and Tone   Welcoming and supportive, promoting a sense of community and of trust in VA services   Incorporates language recognizing the holistic and complementary approaches that many people take to treatment and recovery Before: Effective treatments for PTSD exist. Learn about treatment options and care after trauma. (NOTE: The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care or individual referrals.*) After: Treatment works. Learn about treatments that are proven to help people with PTSD. Find out how treatment can help you heal from trauma — so you can live the way you want to.
  35. 35. Lessons Learned
  36. 36.   There is still stigma around PTSD which can make recruitment difficult   Important to screen for computer use; some participants were very unfamiliar with technology   Participants needed time to ‘vent’ and establish rapport with the moderator   Vets wanted to connect with other vets during sessions Bottom line: Allow more time for recruitment, testing, and relationship building Recruitment and testing
  37. 37.   Remote testing is not always ideal   In-person testing can be easily combined with online software (and is more efficient)   Eye tracking doesn’t work well with participants who wear bifocals or have a lazy eye Logistics
  38. 38.   Take the time to go through IRB or get an exemption   Include help resources as part of consent IRB and consent
  39. 39.   Is problematic, assumes users know what group they belong to and only want content targeted at this group   Users typically think in terms of topics, not identity   Forcing people to self-identify increases cognitive effort   Users can feel anxious that the information they are seeing is incomplete or incorrect   Can be appropriate when a group is totally distinct (e.g. separating family support content) Audience-based navigation
  40. 40.   Redesigning in a bad template can only take you so far   Eye-tracking and click testing are powerful tools for demonstrating template issues in a quantitative way   You have to advocate! Working within a template
  41. 41.
  42. 42. Thank you! @ CommunicateHlth