Hearing Aid Software Redesign

Project Description

This is a current and on-going project for which I am the UX lead spearheading a redesign of the software used by our customers to adjust the fitting settings on hearing instruments. The fitting software is a highly complex and technical application in dire need of an interface update and simplification of controls and components for end-users.

More than 200 hours of end-user research has been conducted by our team to inform the redesign efforts – from observations and semi-structured interviews to usability testing and analysis. Our objective was to integrate as many research findings as possible into initial designs and iteratively test and preview compositions and prototypes.

As the UX lead on the project, I have been responsible for the overall information architecture, initial design, feature planning, coordination with stakeholders, prioritization of features, presentations, overall UX project planning and the interface design editor.

Project Details

Client GN ReSound
Date In Process – Nearing Completion
Skills Interface Design, Project Management, Information Architecture
Role Design Lead

Approach & Design Philosophy

The fitting software is a desktop application. But our customers use web applications and smartphone applications in greater and greater numbers each year. Redesigning our software with the look and feel of a web application allows us to capitalize on what our users are familiar with while also allowing for a markedly improved visual aesthetic. Our approach hinges on three primary concepts – simplicity, functionality and visual appeal. The concepts are ranked in parallel and are used as guides throughout our design process.

Our directive was to give the software a modern interface congruent with today’s design trends. Thus, our initial approach to the redesign effort was to employ a parallel design approach in the first phase – with one exception. Rather than moving straight to usability testing, after developing parallel designs, we presented options in a 2-day workshop with stakeholders where I walked through the new software’s visuals, functions and flows. The primary reason for this deviation was due to the vague requirements surrounding what was termed as a “modern interface.” This workshop allowed us to present fresh ideas and alternatives, testing the validity of options. From this point our team continued to flesh out the designs once stakeholder approval had been secured and move to a second phase of usability testing.

Project Components

Information Architecture

A primary component of the design effort was Information Architecture – where I got my start in this industry. The architecture of the software platform was given a complete overhaul. Labels were evaluated and tested with users in usability testing, user research and using a card sorting method. A site map was constructed in the initial phases of the project to ensure we had complete coverage of features carrying over from the old platform. Additionally, we restructured the navigation to a completely horizontal representation in order to compliment the user’s flow in fitting a patient with a hearing instrument.

Usability Testing

A portion of usability testing was outsourced in order to avoid bias. However, we did conduct some of our own testing via our internal team where testing was conducted with the Veteran’s Administration. Usability testing was conducted in parallel with design efforts due to the sheer size of this project and aggressive timeline. Results were integrated into the designs as they became available.

Interface Design & Visual Design

Interface design occurred prior to visual design efforts to, first, address functionality. We evaluated new and existing features to determine the best approach for layout and interactions. Our primary objectives were to update the interface as well as simplify each screen as our previous research had concluded many screens had entirely too many controls, links and interactions placing a significant load on the user’s cognition.

We hired a visual designer especially for this project. Once our interface designs for features were compiled into functional specification documents, hand-off to our visual designer would occur. Each interface would be evaluated by her for style consistency. In tandem with this effort, we were (and still are) updating our style guide to improve our hand-off with the development team.

Tools Used

Our standard tool has always been Axure and it played a role in the early phases of the project because it allowed us to quickly generate and iterate ideas. However, this project was not our standard project because aesthetics were such a prominent consideration. As such, I determined early on we should not show wireframes to our stakeholders. We needed to show fresh, modern, highly visual comps to our stakeholders and our team did not have a visual designer in the early phases.

Our approach was to use Sketch 3 from Bohemian Coding to develop comps worthy of stakeholder review and presentation. I immersed myself in Sketch 3 for 4 weeks prior to our workshop in an effort to develop high fidelity visual assets for presentations. This worked well for static screens, but we needed a method to show interactions. For quick on-screen interactions, we employed the use of Framer.js. For full blown prototypes, we sliced screens in Sketch 3 and used Axure or InVision to develop click-through prototypes. These prototypes were used in our usability testing phase.

Wireframe / Visual Comp Examples

UX Functional Specifications

View a sample set of specifications for this project