The UXLS toolkit marks the culmination of a collaborative project involving more than 50 user experience specialists from 20 different organisations across the world; including several top ten pharmaceutical companies, bioscience, and technology firms.
The toolkit contains case studies, methods, and metrics – enabling life science companies to design better, more intuitive, more usable digital products, specifically for research in the life science and healthcare environment.
‘In today’s world, software is the gateway to unlocking the many zettabytes of data that humans produce. When scientific software is poorly designed, it is frustrating and time-consuming to use and adds yet another barrier to the acceptance and adoption of new digital technologies, such as automation and Artificial Intelligence. This has the cumulative effect of making drug discovery and development far less efficient and productive,’ commented Dr Steve Arlington, president of The Pistoia Alliance.
‘As we become more familiar in our personal lives with digital technologies that interact intuitively and respond to our needs, the desire for technology that ‘just works’ in our professional lives is also growing. The potential for good user experience (UX) design to impact life science R&D is significant – from improving the UX of clinical trials and making it easier for patients to participate, to delivering cutting-edge UX design that supports the ‘laboratory of the future’. UX design should not be considered a remote or niche area, and we hope that our UXLS toolkit enables more companies to realise this potential’ added Arlington.
The UXLS project was formed by The Pistoia Alliance in recognition of the fact that many life science organisations are behind the curve when it comes to user experience. Although these principles are widely recognised and have been applied successfully in other industries, such as retail and financial services, adoption and use in life science is low.
Members of The Pistoia Alliance communicated this issue, and the UXLS project began as a result in early 2017. The project empowers life science professionals to realise the benefits that UX design can deliver through engagement with a wider audience, including stakeholders in senior management. The global UXLS project team worked collaboratively to develop the toolkit which provides a ‘how-to’ that helps businesses adopt UX principles and methods as they develop scientific software.
‘At EMBL-EBI, we have a mandate to share data from life science experiments, and put a lot of energy into helping people make the best possible use of it,’ commented Professor Ewan Birney, director of the European Bioinformatics Institute. ‘We experienced a big change when we re-focused the development of our services and started to adopt a user-centred design process. We benefited from doing user research, prototyping, design and testing to get to the heart of the problem and deliver products and services that are intuitive for researchers. I was initially sceptical, but then I was impressed to see the results across our organisation.’
These issues and the benefits of UXLS for improving productivity will be discussed further at The Pistoia Alliance’s User Experience for Life Science conference on the 14-15th May 2018 in Boston, USA, featuring keynote speakers from companies including Novartis.