What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word, Dementia? Usually its Alzheimer, memory loss and old age — these are the words that people often associate with dementia. My teammates and I have the same understanding until until we went to Dementia Friends Information Session run by a Champion. He explained to us that dementia is more than memory loss and that people living with dementia can live well as long as we a community know how to use the right language and approach the problems in the right way.
Dementia Friends is an initiative by Alzheimer’s Society, UK’s largest dementia charity that strives to create a society where those affected by dementia are supported and accepted, able to live in their community without fear or prejudice. Dementia Friends’s mission is to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia.
Volunteers of the programme, also referred to as Champions, run Information Sessions to teach people to know more about dementia, and when the attendees learn about dementia they become Dementia Friends.
Currently there are more than 2.7 million Dementia Friends, and the organisation has a target to reach 4 million Dementia Friends by 2020.
So how are we going to help the initiative achieve this goal?
There are over 5,000 active Champions in the UK that are currently running Information Sessions to create Dementia Friends. Champions use the dashboard to create Info. Sessions and to do tasks related to their roles.
Our client believes that the current design of the dashboard is not optimised to help Champions complete their tasks to run Information Session. Over the five years of the Dementia Friends programme, the client has added more and more new features and functionality to the dashboard. They’ve added all this new functionality without any underlying user experience design, resulting in a dashboard which is extremely cluttered, confusing and unintuitive.
The design purpose of this project is to redesign Dementia Friends Champions’s dashboard to help Champions do tasks related to their roles frictionlessly and efficiently so they are able to focus on their main task of conducting Information Sessions. Instead of having to spend time finding their way around the dashboard wondering where things are and how to operate the dashboard each time they log on.
Project Type: Client project
Client: Dementia Friends
Project Length: 2.5 weeks
My Role: UX Designer
There is no pre-defined role in this project. Our team worked together during the design process and allocated tasks accordingly. Some of my responsibilities included
- conducting site visits and interview Champions and Dementia Friends with team,
- interviewing Champions via phone and in-person interviews,
- collaborating with Dementia Friends developers to discuss technical feasibility and constraints,
- participating in two design studios with stakeholders and amongst our team to design the dashboard and information architecture,
- conducting user testing with Champions to test our design prototypes,
- iterating our dashboard prototype based on Champions’ feedback,
- and consolidating our research findings and results from our design processes into deliverables.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Defining the project scope
Before embarking on the design process, we had a meeting with Dementia Friends team to debrief and discuss about the project.
We created a Statement of Work (SOW) for the client, outlining details of the project such as project information and resources, project process which is divided into two phases — 1. Research Phase 2. Design Phase, project milestones, project deliverables and measurement of success.
It also includes the objectives agreed upon in the client meeting, which comprised of
- Core Objectives
- Redesign of Champions dashboard
- Information architecture of Session Resources page
2. Stretch Goal (which will be considered if time and resources allow)
- Integration and Design of Champions Exchange
From the meeting, we also concluded the following assumptions yet to be validated/disapproved:
- Technical Feasibility
Due to the absence of the tech team during the client meeting, we met with the developers later in the first week to check their technical feasibility and establish technical constraints.
2. Device Usage
Dementia Friends has data on the site visits last year, over 80% came from desktop and we were asked to design for mobile. But as UX designers, we wanted to look into mobile to see why people do not use the mobile site currently, is it because the dashboard didn’t work well with mobile? or is it behaviour reasons that Champions do not want to do these tasks on mobile? This will be investigated through surveys and user research in the Week 1 (Research Phase).
Feature prioritisation of the top 5 user tasks are established in the brief, and its objective is to improve discoverability of the main tasks. However, from the Info. Session we attended coupled with navigating through the dashboard ourselves, we learned that there is also complexity for Champions to locate the resources they need on Session Resources page.
Therefore, instead of just focusing on feature prioritisation like the brief has asked, we agreed to shift our focus to improving discoverability of both the main tasks [on the dashboard homepage] and resources [on Session Resources page] that are imperative to Champions’ job.
3.1 Discoverability of The Main Tasks: The current dashboard has a lot of tasks Champions could do on it such as logging and reporting sessions, downloading resources, ordering materials, signing up to sessions requested by the public, and finding contact details of their volunteer manager. We had to prioritise these key tasks and make them easy to find on the dashboard homepage.
3.2 Discoverability of Resources: There are a lot of good information to be used in the Info. Session on the dashboard including session guide activities, promotional materials Champions use to run their sessions, requested session by the public. All these resources should be easily accessible to the Champions.
Both of which we will further investigate from the user’s perspective during the research phase.
After establishing priorities for the project, we continued with the design process keeping in mind that:
Champions need a way to efficiently complete their online tasks so they can focus on running sessions and creating more Dementia Friends to help us achieve 4,000,000 DF by 2020.
Designing with Dementia in Mind
Additionally, as we go through this whole process, we had to design with dementia in mind. We were given a guide to design for dementia — to iterate design gradually and judiciously. Hence, we do not want to create a dashboard that is totally new, we want it to be familiar but improved upon.
We found that a lot of processes that Champions went through worked out for them, therefore we don’t want to change the existing thing that works for the sake of changing it. Hence, the first thing we needed to start with is to look at Champions’ experience through user research.
To get to know the Champions and understand their experience on using the dashboard, our team attended an Information Session, surveyed 163 champions, and conducted 11 user-interviews by phone and context inquiry.
Due to the time constraints of 1) champions’ availability and 2) the design process where we aimed to get the research done in Week 1, each member of our team had to conduct interviews individually. Although this contradicts the research process of having another person do the note taking as you interview, we asked Champions for their consent in recording the interviews to help ensure our research quality as we then share our individual findings with the team members and consolidate the research results. This has been helpful as we were able to refer back to the recordings in case anything from our individual interview write ups need more clarification.
The user research led us to several discoveries that informed the way we design the new dashboard.
The main takeaways from the user research stage were:
1. Device Usage
‘In my experience when I’ve tried to do things on my phone — forms, filling things in — it goes wrong, so I would automatically do it on my computer. Just because that’s what I use for this kind of thing, it’s not me making any specific decision about Dementia Friends.’
— User 8, 00:19:46
It’s Champions behavioural convention to execute tasks related to their role on big screen devices like desktop. They do not work from devices with small screens such as mobile phone as it leave more room for error and inefficiency. Therefore, we inferred desktop to be the main touch point for the new dashboard.
2. Global Navigation
‘I thought I was going to go to my dashboard. I would be expecting it to be my dashboard home.’
— User 11, 1:11:00
Champions click the “Home” button on the global navigation bar of Dementia Friends website, thinking that it would lead them to the Dashboard Homepage.
To avoid this confusion, we decided to build a separate micro-website instead of a webpage on Dementia Friends website. Also, from the conversation with developers at Dementia Friends, this idea is technically feasible.
3. Feature Prioritisation
‘The less stuff you have on [the dashboard] the better, for people who are doing it as a volunteer, doing it as a part of their busy lives.’
— User 8, 00:49:00
Initially from the brief, we received five main features to prioritise. In order to balance the business needs and the users’ needs, we also asked Champions to do feature prioritisation by card-sorting.
Through our interviews and card-sorting exercises, we found that Champions did not know what Requested Session was. Therefore, we concluded the remaining main tasks to be the primary CTAs on the new dashboard.
4. Session Resources
‘There was a whole poster maker section and it had brilliant pictures on it, brilliant set of information. It’s nowhere now, I don’t even see it there.’
— User 3, 00:32:20
Champions often find it difficult to find resources they need to conduct Information Session. Commonly used resources and features such as “Create a personalised poster for your Info Session” are obscure on the current dashboard. They get frustrated that good resources are hard to find. A champion had to create her own posters for her previous Session that she ran because she couldn’t find where the poster maker is.
5. Assistance from DFO
‘If I want resources, I’ll send an email to Louise.’
— User 4, 00:30:40
Champions often contact their volunteer managers (DFO) when they get stuck on the dashboard, for instance, when they can’t find the resources they are looking for. Since the purpose of the dashboard is to automate the tedious tasks and reduce DFOs’ workload, this is an action that we want to avoid.
From the main insights and other discoveries about the Champions, we created Emma to represent the collective insights from our user research.
Emma is a 38 years old who works as a Sales Manager and she is a busy working woman. Besides working her full-time job, she has been an active Dementia Friends Champion for over a year now. She has conducted three Information Sessions and she has made 19 Dementia Friends. The primary reason she became a Champion is that her uncle is a person with dementia.
She gets frustrated with disorganised systems and the inefficiency on the time it takes to get used to a new system which is complex to navigate. As a Champion, Emma takes her role very seriously and her goals are to be well-prepared so she can deliver a quality Info Session, and to be able to get her main tasks done efficiently as she keeps a busy diary.
DESIGNING THE DASHBOARD
We’ve learned about Champions’ experiences and their frustrations from the research phase which helped in guiding us towards the right design direction, we then move on to the design phase in which we design and prototype a solution for our Champions.
In order to produce an effective design we must work with the people that are most familiar with Champions and the system. We conducted a design studio with the Dementia Friends team — Head of Digital, DFOs (volunteer managers), Marketing Manager, and UX Designer to brainstorm design ideas for the new dashboard.
In the design studio, the challenge that we set was:
How might we redesign the dashboard homepage so that Emma can get her main tasks done more efficiently?
…to allow her to spend more time preparing and delivering her Information Sessions which is the part she loves about being a Champion.
After dot-voting on many ideas that came out from the design studio, we concluded on some great concepts and took the following concepts forward:
A check list which will appear when Emma has created a session, giving her all of the tasks and steps she needs to take before her session in one place for easy accessibility.
A nice warm motivational message to keep Emma spurred on and to also allow the community aspect to come through.
3. Large ‘Call to Actions’
It could seem simple and obvious, but this concept is applicable to the main tasks Emma need to do. Each time she logs into the dashboard, she is presented with main CTAs that are easily accessible for her.
4. Search Function
Finally, a search function. This could either be on the whole website or more specifically on the Session Resources part. It is technically possible to have a search function for the website, however from our talk with the developers, it is not currently feasible. Hence, taking this technical constraint into account, it is feasible to implement this function on Session Resources page, of which there are over 130 great resources. A search function would help Emma to discover those resources if she get stuck finding materials she need to plan her Information Sessions.
FROM CONCEPTS TO CREATION:
Taking these concepts and combining it with our research insights, we conducted another design studio to ideate on the design interface for the new dashboard, but first remind ourselves of the current homepage and how we might improve this for Emma.
After we concluded on the design for the new dashboard, we also conducted 3 rounds of usability testing with 15 users to get their feedback on the functionality of the new dashboard design. We made iterations on the main pages and the iterations are the following:
For the dashboard homepage (Version 1), we went for simple design using cards that are easily translatable to mobile. Each task we post in our usability testing were easily completed by our users. However, the checklist we designed was not being noticed as we wanted.
In our 2nd iteration (Version 2), we put a box around it and included highlight colours on the links to make it more noticeable. However, it still wasn’t grabbing Champions’ attention.
So in our final mock up (Version 3), we gave it more real estate on the page, included a checklist structure and added in some colours to draw Emma’s attention to it.
2. Session Resources
Moving on to Session Resources, which is something we looked at with great detail. As it currently stands, Emma would go on the Session Resources page. she would then choose a category and from their she would find a resource underneath. Although it seems like a simple process, we found from our user-interviews that people were dipping into different categories to find the resources as the titles and the different categories weren’t very intuitive or clear.
We want to allow Emma to discover resources in many different ways. She would be able to land on the session resources home, and then either search, filter by audience, or filter by resource type to then find a resource she is looking for.
When looking at the paper prototype (Version 1),
- we added a filter to categories to help navigate this long list.
- We included my favourite page so Emma can favourite most used resources for easy access later on.
- Also, we discussed in the design studio that we would make the resource page more visual to move further away from the complex list structure we had previously. However, when testing this, users were confused to what they would get from the images as resources tend to be very text-heavy.
In Version 2,
- we created a card layout which still gives us a visual structure and through our card sorting.
- We also realised that participants tend to link associated resources, hence the card design allows us to both group guides and downloadable handouts together so they can access both type of resources in one place.
Through the testing we found that although we included the search bar, users were not sure what it would be for and it wasn’t very recognisable.
In Version 3,
- we brought the search bar down and gave more weighting to my favourite section.
- We include a filter instead of tabs for the resources type to align with the audience filter to give more freedom to how Emma wants to filter from the beginning.
- We also found that people weren’t taking much notice to the filter as we wanted, so we added bold colour and included some copy above it to invite people to use the filters to help guide them through page.
3. Reporting Session
The organisation relies on Champions to log and report their Sessions to see how many Dementia Friends they’re making. We design for mobile in this user journey as users want to log their sessions while they are on the go.
In the current design, Emma would be presented with a popup which is commonly ignored. She would then see the mobile homepage, and she would have to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find ‘Tell us about your session’ a CTA for Champions to report their sessions.
In our design, we want to bring this CTA upfront and centre so its really clear. In our 2nd iteration (Version 2), we decided to bring back the pop up as Emma needs to be reminded to report her session. Failing to do so, she would be constantly reminded though the red notification.
Feedback from users
We did user testing throughout the design process but the user feedback that we see hear come from the end, which was generally very positive.
Some of the feedback are:
Feedback from the team
We presented our design to the team and received positive feedback from them with a very positive note that the design would be implemented by next year. Working on this initiative has been a journey and we really hope that this design improves the Champions experience.
Here’s a message from Dementia Friends team 💕:
Victoria, Brittany, Fabiola and Pinusa delivered a fantastic redesign of our volunteers online dashboard that met and exceeded our expectations for the project. Working to tight deadlines, the team were able to very quickly gain a deep understanding of who our users were and what they needed from their dashboard, as well as also keeping our business requirements in mind at all times. They showed genuine passion and dedication at every stage of the project, from the interviews they conducted with our users to the design studio workshop they lead for our team, right through to the final product. Every design decision that they made was backed up by evidence and informed by the feedback they received from our users. Their work resulted in an end product that we could take away and implement, confident in the knowledge that it would empower our volunteers to have even more of an impact. Working with such a skillful, friendly and professional team was an absolute pleasure — we would not hesitate to work with them again!
We have some recommendations to help move this forward:
- We believe that further testing is needed on the resources page, especially on the resource type filter to see how different champions find those activity.
- Additional mobile screens need to be made for the other mobile tasks like creating a session.
- We also talked with the DFOs about the idea of local news, we believe that local news can be included on the dashboard so that messages can be sent out to people in the correct area of post code.
- Personal goals need to be talked about more with Champions to see if this is something they are willing to have or would it impose too much pressure on them.
This is my first commercial project as a UX Designer. I really believe in this initiative and I hope the design improves Champions’ experience. This great work wouldn’t be possible without my wonderful team — Victoria, Brittany, Fabiola, and the involvement of the client who sees the importance of Champions online experience and were very much involved with us in every step of the process. I couldn’t thank everyone enough! I’m really grateful to have worked with a very talented and dedicated bunch.