My Good Friend: GI Buddy
No matter how much foresight you have, you cannot think of every possible entry a user might want to input. In fact, even if you do think of the infrequent entries, you do not want to clutter the scroll down list with options that serve little purpose to the majority of users. This is why the "other" option is so important: not everybody fits into the per-determined list! The fact that this "other" option is always last ensures that users will not resort to it and are forced to first see the provided options before creating their own. Next, the constant ability to enhance each entry with a "note" is a crucial feature. There are always underlying details that are related to even the simplest symptoms and there is always a story behind a missed meal. The notes section allows a user to get there whole story down, It makes me okay with saying I "didn't take my medication today" because I can write down why and explain my decision so I do not feel stereotyped. If I could not write down the information, explaining why I have done something wrong/right, then I may decide it is better to not write at all. (A Note on the "Notes" feature is that there appeared to be no auto correct or spell check in the text box. Especially when wanting to write a lengthy note, these lacking features in the already miniscule text box makes writing notes a cumbersome and difficult process).
See! now if I somehow gamified this post and rewarded anyone who has read this far...
And some other comments on the app. At the bottom of the screen there is a "tool-bar" that makes navigation of the app quick and easy. The activity section for quick review and editing of the information posted in the app is a simple but crucial feature that brings the app together. Logging in different information seems a bit distant until I am able to see the whole picture with this feature. I also enjoyed the additional information that the app has links to and the "community" section. These unnecessary additions make the app feel more friendly. I think that because the app seems to go out of it's way to be helpful, I am more drawn to use it. One big complaint about the app is that is continuously "syncing" which means I am stuck and frustratingly waiting to be able use it.
Overall: solid app and I can't wait to beat it!
ON and ON to: GI Monitor GI Monitor Home-screen
Time for some Devil's Advocate.
While it is easy to see from the GI Monitor home-screen what capabilities the app provides, will this correlate to a proper and fuller use of the app? GI Buddy got to the point! I knew I should fill in my symptoms; in GI Monitor the symptoms are split up and the "custom symptoms" makes me create my own instead of selecting from the compiled list in GI Buddy. I knew I should make an entry about my medication; in GI Monitor that is only one of many options so the importance of doing so may gets diluted within all my other choices (also, you should really be able to add new medications from "missed meds" section! But I digress). I knew I should enter what I have eaten; in GI Monitor my diet has the same presence in the app as bowel movements and stress level! Now maybe I am being too nit-picky. Patients will use the app how they want to use the app... If they think it is important to record their missed meds and diet, then they will. If they want to record their bowel movements, stress level and pain level then it is even easier now!
My conclusion here is that it is really up to the designers. There can even be a compromise where Diet and Meds take a more prominent role while sharing the home-screen with the many different categories that fell under "Lifestyle"
for GI Buddy. Overall, I am more fond of the GI Monitor set-up because the home-screen "command and Control center" feels more complete.
GI Monitor is an innovator when it comes to detailing inputs. Instead of rating pain, stress, etc. with words, GI Monitor uses an intuitive raking system with color coded numbers. It is much easier to differentiate pain using a scale of 1-10 then deciding between: sorta painful, painful and very painful. Similarly, detailing bowel movements is incredibly simple. The color scheme makes the screen both appealing and functional. A user can very quickly add a lot of information about their bowel movements.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
The other perk that is so crucial to the success of GI Monitor (it has nearly 850 ratings on the itunes store which means a lot more downloads...) is its "socialize feature." GI Monitor created a community and virtual support network amongst its members. This "Focused Facebook" creates commitment and belonging to the app for its users. The continuous posts on this forum, at about every 10-15 minutes, means users are continuously opening to app to see what's going on. As they feel connected to the app and are opening it more often, they will also use the app for its intended purpose of tracking their disease. Like my post on gamification, when using the app becomes less of a responsibility and more part of an enjoyable routine, the app is successful.
Don't Forget about myIBD myIBD Home-screen
The home-screen. It is clean.
I think it is the black background with the vibrant colored and round edged icons that make this homes-screen so appealing. It is all encompassing but not crowded. It is full with information but only a brief summary, It accomplishes the goal of leave nothing out but include nothing extra. It had set the standards for home screens, making the first step on inputting information intuitive and simple.
Because I can, I would like to complain about one thing. It is a bit depressing that the icon for mood is a rain cloud. I beleive emotions are contagious and this icon is creating a subliminal message that you are in a downer mood. At a closer look I think there is actually a heart behind the rain cloud, but it really does not come out well and though this is a small critique I think it would improve the app.
An issue: myIBD is too dependent on icons and fails to use text to convey a message. In this screen shot, the icons at the top of the screen are supposed to represent the activity tracker, fatigue, stress and General Well-being. The icons are too none descriptive and I see no way to realize and remember which goes to which. Knowing the identities of these options becomes important when you click on "history" from the home-screen to view a summary of your information.
Another issue with myIBD is that there is no shortcut within the app that will bring you back to the home screen. GI Buddy and GI Monitor both had a tool bar at the bottom of the app that provided easy access back to the home-screen (as well as other important pages within the app). It was a bit frustrating when playing with the app and having to work my way back to the home screen instead of clicking on a simple shortcut.
There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on