Reimagining diabetes management.
Medtronic’s insulin pumps and blood sugar monitors make managing diabetes more precise and less of a burden. But maintaining healthy blood sugar levels remains complex and sudden changes unpredictable.
We were learning new things through the 11th hour, iterating and refactoring our design ideas as we uncovered new insights.
I teamed up with two other budding designers to reimagine the way users interact with Medtronic’s devices. With only two weeks for the project, understanding the intricacies of living with diabetes was a tall order to fill. We were learning new things through the 11th hour, iterating and refactoring our design ideas as we uncovered new insights.
Understand, then solve.
We weren’t able to connect with any actual users of Medtronic’s diabetes devices, and needed to get creative in our research approach. So we widened our net.
We dug into behavior change and the quantified self. We turned to our network for interviews, read blog post after blog post, binge-watched YouTube videos, and went on marathon Googling sprees. We spoke with diabetics and their families, healthcare professionals, and an insulin pump engineer. We even reached out to our local branch of the American Diabetes Association.
It was powerful to experience how much we could learn about our users without ever speaking with them directly. When the time came to synthesize everything we’d learned, we found ourselves staring at an overwhelming list of pain points and problems that needed solving.
We had three key takeaways from our research:
People with diabetes experience a range of emotions around their condition. Addressing these emotions is key to addressing the disease.
Keeping track of blood sugar levels is essential to managing diabetes, but it's arduous and has a high dropoff rate.
Visualizing trends over time helps in recognizing patterns, but there's a high learning curve to understanding what the data means and what to do with it.
How might we minimize the cognitive load?
Iterating on paper allowed us to quickly test our assumptions and prioritize features.
For diabetics, keeping healthy blood sugar levels means a carefully controlled balance of food, exercise, and insulin. Their lives depend on a dedicated habit of tracking every aspect of their lives that could tie back to their diabetes.
It’s complex. It’s time-consuming. And it’s forever.
We wanted to design a solution that could seamlessly aggregate all this information, provide actionable insights, and present the data in a clear way that’s easily digestible.
We sketched our ideas fast and often, exploring different ways to minimize the cognitive load for our users.
With so many potential features to start with, we needed to slim down our app to its essential flows to test and build upon. Iterating on paper allowed us to quickly test our assumptions and prioritize features.
With a clearer idea of basic usage and functionality, we created digital wireframes for user testing. Our first iteration focused on providing the most crucial information at a glance.
Managing emotions is key to managing the disease.
We had a surprising takeaway from usability testing: trends and numbers were the last thing our users wanted to see.
This gave us an important insight about the app’s use case: unlike Medtronic’s more robust Carelink® software – which provides important insights on trends over time – the mobile app would primarily be used to access information about a patient’s current status.
Think about the last time you hadn’t eaten in a few hours. Your blood sugar was probably low. Maybe you felt a little tired, maybe a little cranky.
That’s how diabetics feel every time their blood sugar dips or spikes. In those moments, they don’t want to see trends and numbers. What they want is to know what to do to feel better.