Availity Blog

Designing for Behavior Change


11.19.2021 By Availity


The market for mobile health applications is exploding, but many applications fail because they don’t take into consideration how the user’s experience with the application is affected by their environment. 

That was the message delivered at Availity Connects, Virtual in a presentation by Alex Soleimani and Caroline Zenss, designers with Macadamian Technologies, a full-service software design and development consultancy that worked with Availity to redesign its provider portal.

In their presentation, Soleimani and Zenss shared six principles for how digital health applications can achieve long-lasting, user-product relationships.

  1. Build trust, credibility, and transparency: Health applications should inspire trust and be transparent. In other words, users should not have to wonder why the app is collecting personal information. They should have clear insight into what their data is being used for.
  2. Understand motivation: Designers should seek to understand what motivates users and when they are most effective. Developers must perform a deep dive to understand the “ultimate why” that inspires each user, and the applications should reflect those motivations back to users when they experience setbacks.
  3. Educate: Sometimes it’s not clear to the user how the information the application is asking for will benefit them. But when users do make the connection, it increases the chances of making a positive behavior change. Applications should keep the user informed by connecting the task to the benefit.
  4. Create an optimal aesthetic experience: There is no right or wrong look for healthcare applications; it depends on the goal. But the theme and tone of the application should provide a sense of place, and possibly even immersion. The aesthetics of an application can be portrayed through voice and tone, colors, or the usage of imagery. Each of these needs to match the intent of the application and overall branding of the product.
  5. Create a sense of transcendence and empowerment: The application should have components that keep users engaged after they accomplish their primary goal. If that’s not possible, the application should at least tell them what’s next. These elements may satisfy users’ needs for feeling good (transcendence) and empower them to become a mentor or contributor.
  6. Develop a person-app-environment loop: There is an intricate relationship between the person using the application, the application itself, and the environmental factors that impact both. For example, if a user hasn’t recorded data in the application in some time, it may be appropriate for the application to deliver motivational content. The application can also provide actionable steps to help users adapt their environments to be more conducive to their goals.

Watch the full Designing for Behavior Change below: 


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