Designing for Complexity
The biggest challenge I faced during this project was determining whether our app was too complex for patients experiencing brain fog. We used personas to keep this in mind throughout the design process, making an effort to strip back and simplify each aspect of the app. For example, we merged the numerous energy conservation behaviours listed on health service websites, reducing them to only seven.
Finding the right balance between simplicity and complexity is a key consideration in designing health interventions and a fundamental component of interface design. As Donald Norman writes, the complexity of an information system should mirror the complexity of the user's life. It was tough to find this balance without direct input from patients. In industry, these challenges are met by consulting with patients and clinicians early, often, and throughout the design process. In our case, this was not possible due to the constraints imposed by ULC's ethics policy.
Nevertheless, using preexisting resources in place of actual patients and taking the time to simplify each of LongCo's features provided first-hand experience of understanding and designing for complexity. However, were I to repeat this study in industry, I would test the app with patients throughout the design lifecycle. These tests would go a long way to ensuring that LongCo meets the nuances of day-to-day life living with Long Covid.