I work with companies that have an established product, but I mentor startups that are just getting their hands dirty. I wanted to empathize with my mentees by creating and researching a product of my own. So, I built out a fake product and did a bunch of generative research. here’s my story.
Many startup ideas launch because a team member recognizes a gap in what is available. At the time I began this project, I had just gone back to physical therapy. This time was different for me because I’d never experienced such incredible nerve pain before. I was MOTIVATED to do whatever it took to keep the pain away!
Even though I was motivated to do my home exercises, it was a challenge to get them done. The clinic I was going to had over a dozen therapists, so I interviewed them to find out what their other clients experienced. I received multiple reports that it is a challenge for Physical Therapists to engage with and motivate their clients to do the required exercises outside of an office visit.
In these same interviews, I also found out that there were some methods and companies commonly used to engage clients, but none of them impressed the PTs or their clients. When I did an internet search, I had a hard time finding an affordable option for an independent Physical Therapist.
In my subsequent visits to the PT office, I observed other patients and engaged in conversations about our recovery process while I waited in the lobby. The interviews were unstructured, but I made sure to get as much information as I could about what it was like to complete assigned exercises at home.
From a frail elderly patient with a broken bone to a semi-pro athlete with a scheduled surgery, finding time and energy to do home exercises was a challenge. They relied on the time spent in the office with their therapists. They also had concerns about re-injuring themselves by doing an exercise incorrectly.
I wanted to see how physical therapists are taught to motivate their patients. The literature and education materials I found showed that they tend to use encouraging statements such as “it may hurt now, but it’s going to get better” and “you can do this!”. I knew I would need to incorporate their current working style into the final product.
Storyboarding helped me to define the problem by looking at the context in which someone deals with their injury. It also deepened the empathy building by seeing the various emotions that occurred with different daily situations.
Storyboarding an experience with the new product showed the touch points in a user’s day and how it can change their emotions, perspective, and entire recovery experience.
This is an idea canvas about how the product could work. Since so much of this product was reliant on push notifications type of functionality, it was a challenge to figure out what it would actually look like.
The above homepage was put through UserTesting.com as a “Peek” test. Peek is a program that allows for 5 minute unmoderated user tests of any site. It is a perfect way to see if users understand the concept of a prototype.
Based on the results, it was clear that people got the basic gist of the site, but did not understand how it would work. Responders felt that the target audience, Physical Therapists, might understand the product better than they could though.