Board game inspired - Our unique approach to User Research

June 3

Here at xbird, we are obsessed with understanding the wants and needs of those living with diabetes and the struggles they face every day. We are driven by strong organizational and personal connections to the diabetic community. Many of my co-workers and I have seen firsthand the impacts that diabetes has on an individual, as we have family, friends, and co-workers that face the challenges that come with having the disease. There is not a one size fits all approach to managing diabetes. Because of this, we invest a significant amount of time and resources into understanding how we can address the challenges of these individuals and make their management of the disease easier, while also improving their overall health and medical outcomes.

The user research team consistently tries to enhance our understanding and empathy of those we are trying to serve. To achieve this, we have read thousands of blog posts, hundreds or articles and books, and performed countless interviews with those living with the disease. Our research has reinforced what we already knew. Diabetes is complicated, and everyone has different needs and wants for managing their condition. For example, one person’s insulin sensitivity can be greatly affected by exercise, making choosing the right amount of insulin to take after a workout difficult. While another might be a single parent of 3, who just struggles to remember to eat to keep their blood sugar up when taking care of their children.

To dive deeper into how we can address this challenge and create a tool that fits the unique needs of the users, we have created an innovative user research method. For each user interview, we create vivid, real-life scenarios, guided by in-depth mockups to immerse our users into situations that are struggles for them. These scenarios range from atypical extended periods of travel to unexpected physical activity and put users in situations where there are challenges that they might not normally know how to best address. We then take them step by step through the scenario and let them make their own decisions as the scenario plays out, to see how they would react to the situation while using our product.

Funny enough, this framework is a combination of traditional user research and role playing game board games. The idea initially came about when a member of the user research team commented how games where the player had strong decision making choices in the game led to a more engaging experience, and that created the first spark for the design scheme to develop. This interactive component is often what our user interviewees are most fond of, and often describe the interview as a fun game, not knowing it’s true origins, and then they have a good laugh when we tell them. These positive experiences allow for long-term relationships with users, where we are able to create continual feedback loops and further improve our product each step of the way.

Through this method, we have learned key insights on how we can develop our technology, not to make it one size fits all, but to make it so we can change the size to fit the individual. We have put great effort into our user research, but there is always more to learn and there are always ways to improve. Each user interview, new article, or experience someone shares online provides us with a better understanding of the challenges and struggles that come with diabetes. We are consistently looking for people living with diabetes to interview and new sources of people living with diabetes experiences, so that we can keep learning and can improve what we are doing. By focusing on the user, we hope that we can improve the lives of people with diabetes everywhere.

This project is co-financed via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)