Designing intuitive forms for prosthetists helping adaptive athletes return to physical activities.
“I’ve been a prosthetist for over 30 years, and you’ve just shown me the value of rethinking my workflow… these are forms I want to fill out.” — Michael Nunnery, CPO
About the project
Discomfort due to poor fit accounts for most cases of prosthetic rejection, an issue especially felt by adaptive athletes who rely on their prosthetics. Hand:Made is an upper limb prosthetics manufacturer using cutting edge technology and a newly pioneered measurement system to solve this issue, but their clientele was limited to those who could travel to their offices in Rhode Island.
My team partnered with Hand:Made to develop a virtual measurement portal that would remotely train prosthetists in Hand:Made’s proprietary measurement system and transmit reliable data, so that more athletes worldwide could enjoy the sports they love without the distraction of prosthetic pain and discomfort.
Tools: Sketch, inVision, Illustrator, Google Forms, Paper, pen, marker, whiteboarding
My Role: Project Management, User Research & Data Synthesis, Visual Design
Subject Matter Research
We strove to understand the processes and challenges of prosthetic fitting, and what 3-D printing and scanning was bringing to the industry, on a deep level by doing subject matter research.
Though the service we were designing didn’t exist yet, there were definitely other companies dealing in the communication and organization of biometric data. We compared the workflows of three companies (Invisalign, Warby Parker, and LimbForge) against the workflow of Hand:Made, and illustrated our findings in a comparative features chart.
At the same time, we looked to deepen our understanding of the adaptive athletes' experiences with their prosthetics by turning to Instagram. We searched and posted via hashtags such as #adaptiveathlete hoping to find athletic amputees willing to participate in a survey questionnaire.
Participants responses were a great start in understanding the relationship amputees have with their devices, and with the experiences they have while being fit for one.
User Interviews & Field Research
Interviewing professionals in the field required a lot of research and scheduling upfront. We contacted local research hospitals, and were able to network with prosthetists that worked specifically with adaptive athletes through the University of California San Francisco's Department of Orthopedic Surgery Orthotic and Prosthetic (O&P) Centers.
We also reached out to medical technology startups in the Bay Area, and interviewed innovators such as the principle research scientist at Autodesk and the founder/CTO of LimbForge, a company that equips local clinics in war and disaster affected developing countries with the technology to produce on-on demand 3D-printed upper limb prosthetics.
In addition to formal scheduled interviews, we conducted guerilla-style interviews at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation (College of Engineering, UC Berkeley) during a presentation of student work on Upper Limb Prosthesis Design. By networking at the event we were able to speak with students and professionals who gave us valuable insight on how orthometry forms are used in the industry and about their limitations. We used this information to compare orthometry forms from other prosthetics manufacturers against the forms Hand:Made is currently using internally.
Synthesizing our research
Once our depth and breadth of research gave us a firm enough understanding of our subject matter we identified our key findings via affinity mapping. Those key findings were then translated into the creation of our personas, whose particular joys, needs, and pain points would guide the design of our product.
While “Ben” (the adaptive athlete) and his experience as end-customer was important to us, we labeled him as our special case persona. We decided on “Greg” (representing a Hand:Made manufacturer) as our secondary persona.
“Gina Reyes, CPO” became our primary persona, as guiding the prosthetist’s measurement taking process was the keystone of our project brief. The prosthetists Hand:Made will be working with remotely need to learn Hand:Made’s proprietary measurement system, and errors in their workflow could throw off the socket fit entirely.
User Journey Mapping
To identify which parts of Gina’s current workflow could be improved, we made a User Journey Map. Our research made it clear that prosthetists have a strong bond with their patients that is particularly expressed in the process of measuring them for socket design and fit. Our product would take over some aspects of that process, so we wanted to make sure our design preserved Gina’s “joy points” while improving upon her “pain points.”
Design & testing
With an understanding of our users’ needs in hand, we began the design process by determining the user’s path with user flow diagrams and information architecture maps. We then created a low-fidelity prototype using Google Forms in order to test the user path we had decided on, before ever investing our team’s time on visual design.
The prosthetists who we had previously interviewed returned for usability testing sessions that then informed our prototype revisions, particularly in rewording verbiage to prompt more accurately for precise measurement data.
At this point, we finally had enough data to begin work on the user interface design. From whiteboarding our initial concepts, to paper sketching and rapid prototyping, and wireframing in Sketch, we brought the product to life one step at a time. Initial iterations were re-tested with our participants, and areas for improvement were identified and strategically addressed until we arrived at a final minimum viable product - rooted in research and validated by testing - to hand off to our client.