As technology grows increasingly more pervasive throughout our lives, it is important to consider the tolls that our constant usage takes on all aspects of our well-being. Here at CampBrain, we try to make design decisions that takes into consideration the digital health of our users.
Digital health, a term used by Andrea Crofts, is the intersection of physical, psychological, and social effects of technology on our well-being. In other words, it promotes the appropriate and responsible use of technology for the betterment of humankind.
When we design and create software, we should consider the possible implications that could result from the use of our products:
The toll technology has on our bodies from constant use; such as ergonomics or vision strain.
Technology can impact us mentally and spiritually, often manifesting in symptoms such as social media or video game addiction.
Technology changes the way we behave around others and shapes our culture. All this constant connection can have the opposite effect; it makes us feel deeply disconnected.
At CampBrain, we create enterprise software. Our product serves an organization instead of individual users, and is used for business instead of leisure. So, the implications aren’t quite the same as a social media app that uses behavioural psychology and habit loops to increase its usership. These ideas were framed through the lens of CampBrain and our users, but can be applicable to most organizations:
How do we define success? Is it usership, total sales, how often users log in? Or, is it how satisfied our users are with the product, and what positive impacts it has on their work? It’s important to take the time to consider what success means to you, and use metrics that measure not just numbers, but impact. For example, we use NPS (Net Promoter Score).
A study from the University of California stated that it takes 23 minutes for people to get refocused after a distraction. When we are interrupted during a task, it can make us feel angry or stressed, making it that much more difficult to complete it. We want to help our users accomplish their tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible, minimizing distractions and stress. As software creators, we can do this by creating intuitive workflows that guide the user through the task.
The best thing you can do to incorporate ideas you care about is getting involved with the community. Go to conferences, do research, and see what other people are excited about. Understanding the ecosystem of an issue you’re passionate about is important in making mindful decisions in your work. Educate yourself, then share the knowledge by educating others!
This post was inspired by Andrea Crofts’ talk, Designing for Digital Health
Love your Software, LukeW firstname.lastname@example.org