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UX Designers Enhance Online Product Experience

There’s a human side to technology that is crucial when designing websites and apps. Inga Wisniewski, a ‘UX’ (user experience) designer for the healthcare site NaviNet, said that creating the overall feel of an online product is both an art and science. Wisniewski, a former print graphic designer and painter, tries to apply a deep understanding of human behavior when optimizing NaviNet, a website that helps patients and payers handle healthcare transactions such as referrals, payment status, eligibility checks, and treatment authorization. Wisniewski said she evangelizes a vibrant spirit of ‘Design Thinking”” across the entire Boston-based organization, while also making sure to engender empathy for their users. Wisniewski is helping to redesign web portals that integrate reimbursement data with clinical data and shared workflow. Wisniewski spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about the relatively new discipline of UX design and her role in NaviNet’s development.

“The look and feel of a product is a huge component for attracting customers. Companies like Uber and Zillow have been able to hire great designers that enhance user experience. At NaviNet, the team is trying to improve the look and functionality of our healthcare communications network that serves more than 420,000 providers and 40-plus health plans. In user experience design, we start with field research of medical office administrators and other users of NaviNet, testing a prototype that goes through many iterations and multiple rounds of testing. We ask users to ‘think out loud’ to test if the design is intuitive or not. The goal is to streamline the process so that there is zero learning curve and anyone can figure out NaviNet without any learning sessions or webinars. Eventually, the design is close to an ideal state, then the technical team accurately translates this prototype vision into real applications. For UX designers like me, the psychological part of website design is understanding the thought processes that users have. For example, the ‘save’ icon is often a floppy disc but the millennial generation and others probably don’t what this archaic computer symbol refers to. We struggled with whether NaviNet’s ‘Save’ icon should be a floppy disc and decided to use an ‘action button’ with the word ‘save’ on it after research showed that this was the best way to require action. Like most products, NaviNet is in a state of constant evolution and improvement. As a UX designer I like to go out to the field and meet with the users, learn their processes, and decide on features based on their feedback. Not surprisingly with over 10 years of experience in the industry, I also like the visual design part. I do it intuitively – it feels like I just know the colors, shapes and layouts to use. It is so easy, it feels like flying.”

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