In the world of medical device development, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are two terms you will hear often. You may hear them used interchangeably, but they actually mean entirely different things. In this blog and the next one, we will break these two concepts down for you. Read on to learn about what UI means, and how it impacts you and your users.
To understand what UI design is, we can break the word down. Simply put, a user interface is the common ground between users and devices. It is the mechanism users use to interact with the device. Therefore, UI design refers to the process of designing how these interfaces look, feel, and behave. This is often the role of specialized UI designers, and their role is pivotal to the success and usability of a medical device. This is because UI design is the part of the medical device that users will have the most interaction with. Their experience with the user interface will dictate how likely they are to use the product again. As a result of this, designers tend to create user interfaces which are familiar; they are easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing, and create a pleasurable experience.
UI design is a broad term that encompasses many different formats:
- Graphical user interfaces (GUIs): this is the interface through which a user interacts with electronic devices, e.g. computers. This is most commonly found in the world of medical devices. It involves the use of icons and menus.
- Voice-controlled interfaces (VUIs): this is the interface through which a user interacts with a device using their voices. An example of this would be Amazon Alexa.
- Gesture-based interfaces (GUIs): this is the interface through which a user interacts with a design using movements like gestures. Whilst virtual reality video games may spring to mind whilst reading this, it is important to note that GUIs are becoming more common within medical training, particularly in simulations used for training healthcare professionals.
Some key aspects UI designers must consider:
- The visuals: this is the first thing clients will pay attention to when using your medical device. This means UI designers must think carefully about the presentation of the interface, including the different icons used, where they are placed within the user interface, the font and size of text used and how it is spaced out, any imagery, including logos and icons.
- Layout: particularly in medical devices, it is important for UI designers to think about how the content will be organized and laid out. This must cater to what users are used to, as it will allow them to better adapt to the new device they are using.
- Transitions: if users wish to open up the menu, how will the information be presented to them? Will they be able to access other pages through a search bar, a dropdown list, or a hamburger menu? This is another important thing UI designers must consider.
- Information: how will users receive information from the user interface? There are many ways this can be organized, including notifications, pop-up boxes, and progress bars.
If you want to help boost the chances of your medical device’s success, it is imperative for you to source an experienced and knowledgeable UI designer. They will be accustomed to the UI design process and be able to work adeptly to refine your device’s GUI and ensure it meets the needs of your users. At Nectar, our expert team has over 30 years’ experience in the field and we have worked extensively on medical devices that had specific GUI requirements. You can read about one example here. If you’d like to discuss UI design further and see how you can optimize your medical device, you can schedule a consultation here.