The design process of the Dutch corona-app (CoronaMelder) was as user centered as it gets. During the project we did more than 25 tests with over 200 users. I had the honor to be part of the team. Together with my colleagues, I was responsible for collecting user insights and creating a simple, user-friendly app. One that everybody in the Netherlands can use.
Over the past months we have learned a lot and it would be a waste not to share our insights with the world. I hope other teams working on corona-apps can profit from them. I’m quite sure some of these lessons are universal and could apply to other (healthcare) apps as well.
If you’re working on corona-apps or (healthcare) apps in general, this article is for you.
I’ve summarized our most important lessons and give a few concrete tips for each insight. Enjoy the read!
Lesson #2: Focus on the intended effect, instead of on the technical details
In our first design we spent a large part of the onboarding explaining how the app works technically.
However, diving into the technical details of how the app works turned out not to increase trust. On the contrary: it only increased the number of questions and doubts people had. We have also noticed that for every technical thing you try to explain, one of two things happen:
- The user doesn’t understand it, and gets frustrated that they don’t understand the app
- The user does understand, and the explanation raises extra (unanswered) questions
Don’t get me wrong: of course you need to explain how the technology works up to a certain level. We’ve included a more detailed explanation of the technical details in ‘about the app.’
- [Advice] — Focus on the intended effect of the app, rather than how it works technically. You don’t always have to explain the ‘how.’ Keep the technical explanation basic. The app is about receiving a warning after you’ve been exposed to a higher risk of infection. Not about exchanging unique numbers, codes, or ID’s.
The article could have easily been called ‘148 lessons for people building corona-apps’. This is one of 10 lessons I selected and summarised. All our research findings are available on our public GitHub.
Through this process we developed a profound understanding of what works, and what doesn’t. Any questions? Want to learn from our mistakes, successes and experiences?
Get in touch! :)
The other lessons
- Lesson #1: Help people understand when they’ll receive a notification. Avoid visual references to maps and radars
- Lesson #2: Focus on the intended effect, instead of on the technical details
- Lesson #3: Privacy and (perceived) usefulness are key
- Lesson #4: Don’t give people the option to skip an explanation before asking for permissions
- Lesson #5: Any notification sent by the app will freak people out
- Lesson #6: The more details you give about a moment of contact, the more likely people are to take warnings seriously
- Lesson #7: The devil is in the details, small differences in text will have a huge impact
- Lesson #8: It doesn’t hurt to ask to share the app
- Lesson #9: Take into account the entire ecosystem: app-users are not your only users
- Lesson #10: Test early, test often