Overview

A few years ago, when I worked as a wellness consultant for a utility company, I conducted research to create a training curriculum to address the rising numbers of musculoskeletal pain complaints.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries that affect the muscles, bones, and joints and include carpal tunnel, as well as muscle sprains and strains.

Managers would use the curriculum to educate technicians (techs) on how to reduce their risk of developing MSDs.

I had originally delivered a PowerPoint presentation and recently wondered: What could this look like as a mobile app?

Delivering it in this format would make the material more easily accessible to the workforce. 

Watch a video of the prototype or you can navigate through it yourself

Goal

Conceptualize a print-based training curriculum into a digital format.

Timeline

Original research: 3 months; design process: 1 month

My Role

I completed all the research and design.

Methods & Tools

Contextual inquiry, interviews, personas, information architecture, Sketch (wireframes, screens), Axure (prototype)​

Research & Discovery

I started the project by reviewing the literature on injury rates and common areas of injury for those working in utilities. I also had access to a survey and was able to spend time in the field with the workers. 

Survey

The results of a previously administered survey (n=unknown) showed that techs were most concerned about pain developing in the knees, low back, and shoulders.

Techs were being shifted into office jobs because of pain sustained on the job; this led to increased hiring and training of field workers. Business leaders wanted the techs to stay healthy and productive.

Knees
0%
Low back
0%
Shoulders
0%
Various (combined)
0%

Contextual Inquiry

Technicians kneeling at work
Postures showing contact stress on the knee.

I accompanied 5 techs to residential and commercial sites and observed their typical work postures and movements first-hand (i.e., kneeling, climbing, lifting, pushing, pulling).

We also talked informally about how their daily work affected their physical health. Some just dealt with the pain, while others became more proactive about looking after their health after sustaining injuries.

Ultimately, they wanted to continue to work in the field, as free from pain as possible.

"My advice to people doing this job? Get a good masseuse. If I didn't have a masseuse, I'd probably be in the office by now."

Personas

I developed two personas based on the research gathered. These allowed me to remain focused on the needs of the audience.

Persona of Harry, the HVAC tech.
Persona of Heather, the team lead.

User Stories

Next, I specified the tech’s (user) requirements to ensure the content met each user’s specific goals. (The team leads’ requirements came from the initial brief.)

As a technician: 

  • I want to learn what exercises to do so I can stay strong and avoid getting injured.
  • I want to learn easy ways to reduce my risk so I can stay safe without affecting my workflow.
  • I want to know how to find medical resources so I can get help when I need it. 

As a team lead:

  • I want techs to learn about anatomy so they are informed about the effects of the job on their body.
  • I want techs to know how to find medical resources so they get timely treatment. 
  • I want to quiz my team members on the material so that I know it was understood.

Ideation

Initial sketches for the MSD app.
Wireframes created in Sketch of the home, shoulders and resources screens.
Information cards created in Sketch showcasing the Risks (left) and Anatomy (right) tabs.

I began by sketching out several ideas around how best to organize the content. What content should take priority? Which content could be categorized as secondary? 

I debated categorizing the information by symptom, but settled on categorizing by body part

Next, I translated the sketches into wireframes in Sketch

I used a silhouette of the body, with the areas of concern (low back, shoulder, knee) as entry points.

After selecting a body part, the user would see two tabs: RISK and ANATOMY, addressing the needs of the techs and the business leaders, respectively. 

Inspired by Material Design, each card introduced a topic and allowed the user to save the information for future access.

They were created in Sketch, then imported into Axure for the prototype. 

User Flow

Three launch screens describe the benefits of using the app. 

The home screen flips to display the front and back of the body. 

lessons learned

Had I had access to the original stakeholders, I would have conducted usability testing to evaluate the information architecture and navigation and ensure it met the needs of the business. 

This project gave me a chance to apply the UX process to an independent project and tackle re-purposing content from print to digital.

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