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Retail packaging for a new healthcare product

We’ve been working with Leeds-based Advaskin, developing branding and packaging for a new pharmaceutical product, Sedigel.

Sedigel is a new scalp preparation that helps to reduce irritation and itching - our brief was to develop packaging that would allow it to share shelf space with other products in the retail healthcare sector.

The first part of our development process was to find out what was already on the market. We spent time visiting supermarkets and chemists examining and photographing similar products and getting a feel for their branding and packaging.

Positioning the design of a retail package is a tightrope act - trying to make it recognisable and distinct, whilst also placing it within a recognisable sector of products. To exactly mimic a competitor would just be to rip it off; to produce something radically different from the rest of the sector would risk confusing customers and damaging sales.

So is our Sedigel packaging just copycat design? I don't think so - our design gives visual reinforcement that Sedigel is a clinical product, and also provides a recognisable identity that can be implemented as necessary.

Posted by Brian 14.12.12 [ page link ]


Touch-screen interfaces

We’ve been doing some interesting work with digital information specialists Savience, developing new visual interfaces for their clinic management systems.

The first system we looked at was a touch-screen self-service check in system designed for hospital clinics.

Key to this project was breaking down the content into manageable chunks so users weren’t faced with too much information at any one time. Screens needed to follow in a logical order with clear navigation. The right information in the right place at the right time.

To test our designs out we used an iPad with the different screens set up as active Keynote pages - a relatively quick and simple way of seeing how users behaved.

The finalised interface has now gone live in hospitals across the country, with impressive results. In one location the use by patients increased more than doubled in a three month period.

Posted by Brian 14.12.12 [ page link ]


Instructions for Use

Anyone who has ever been to IKEA will have an opinion about Instructions for Use. Some are better than others. 

We’ve seen a steady growth in the number of Instructions for Use ‘IFU’ documents we’ve been asked to produce for medical devices. We like IFUs - they give us chance to flex our illustrative muscles, and they fit perfectly with our expertise in making information clear.

There’s lots of interesting psychology in instructional design - certainly enough for a PhD or two - but what we’re interested in is presenting the right information at the right time. Not too much, not too little - illustration decisions are as much about what to leave out as what to include.

It’s for this reason that we prefer to use illustrations rather than photographs because it give us scope to take out anything that's not relevant - we want readers to be able to concentrate on what they're trying to do. Also we get to have fun adding arrows, speech bubbles, pull-outs, cut-outs and all those other tools in the designer’s box of tricks.

All our IFU work goes through formal user-testing, because however pleased we might be with our designs, the measure of their success is whether people can actually use them to carry out tasks.

Posted by Brian 14.10.12 [ page link ]


Testing the QRD Template for patient information leaflets

All pharmaceutical patient information leaflets in the EU have to undergo formal user testing, underpinned by the Quality Review of Documents (QRD) template - ironically, this document has never undergone user testing itself.

Last year Mark Gibson of the Gibson Research Consultancy put the template through formal testing - he has just released his report here. [PDF]

Posted by Brian 11.5.11 [ page link ]


Taiwan in paper form

Beautiful paper-folded infographics from Taiwanese designer Tien Min Liao [Anna]

Posted by Anna 10.5.11 [ page link ]


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