of the prescription version takes place
through application stores, but a unique
prescription number is required to fully
The majority of business versus UX
design choices are influenced by a
combination of market megatrends and
sales distribution channels. Within
this context, the trade-offs vary by
industry. The design constraints placed
upon an FDA-regulated mobile health
solution cannot be compared to those
of a chat app for teenagers that blocks
However, the requirement for high-quality UX has become universal to
achieve success across all distribution
channels and industries.
Therefore, every digital product
or service requires a UX strategy that
considers the business dimensions
described here and more. Doing so
optimizes for a high-quality user
experience in conjunction with the best
commercial outcome possible.
Finally, it needs to be loudly
emphasized: Even the most exhaustive
UX strategy must be frequently
revisited because the underlying
market megatrends and constraints
evolve continuously to disrupt the most
carefully crafted plans of mice and men.
1. Nesbitt, J. Megatrends – Ten New Directions
Transforming Our Lives. Warner Books, 1982.
2. Unfortunately, the competitive factor does
not apply to government-provided Web
services and may continue to account for
their poor usability for decades to come.
3. Au, I. Design in Venture Capital.
4. The FDA is the medical products
regulatory body in the U. S.
5. The A1C test measures your average blood
glucose during the previous two to three
months, but especially during the previous
month. For people without diabetes, the
normal A1C range is 4 to 6 percent.
Daniel Rosenberg ( rcdoux.com) is a
former global design executive with 35-plus
years’ experience. He was one of the first
practitioners in the field and has numerous
publications and IxD inventions to his credit.
Currently his days are filled with teaching
at San Jose State University, UX consulting,
editing the Business of UX forum, and board
memberships including the Interaction Design
app will frequently sort the results by
App stores utilize social reviews
(aka star ratings). Social reviews have
become their own economy, eclipsing
professional journalist reviews in
importance; they can also trump
advertising spending. As a UX designer,
you have no influence on the experience
or competence level of the social review
community. Social reviews can appear
within minutes of a product launch.
Also, these reviews can be written
by anyone, including the producer’s
employees and marketing department,
as frequently happens with mobile apps.
From a strategy perspective, there
is a huge difference between a scripted
sales demo and the product review
process, whether social or professional.
In the product review, the reviewer
chooses the tasks. In a sales demo,
the “tasks” follow a canned script
optimized to show the product in the
best possible light.
The removal of the price,
competitive search friction, and
installation-time constraints in
the app store, combined with
the Saa S distribution model, are key
economic drivers for improved usability
and underpin the consumerization-of-IT megatrend.
Within the app-store distribution
model, the primary focus for UX
design should be on delightful first use
for high-frequency tasks that will be
performed by the majority of users.
Success in this area will drive reviews
and conversion to paying customers.
Hopefully, the optimization for first use
will not compromise the usability for
mature use, but even if it does, this still
represents the best business trade-off.
Shared-service economy models. The
shared-service economy has introduced
a new UX strategy challenge: It
has turned millions of consumers
accustomed to high-quality B2C mobile
apps into producers. Shared-service
platform providers such as Uber or
Airbnb must deploy highly usable B2B
experiences to non-technical, nonspecialist users.
If a ride-sharing service driver fails
to understand and successfully use the
driver’s application, the entire service
Every shared-service solution has
this same UX Achilles heel—it’s the
reason that these companies have
invested heavily in UX. Their only
viable UX strategy is high-quality UX
facing both the consumers and the
producers utilizing their platforms.
They may or may not choose to
invest equally in their internal-facing
operations systems. Their risk in this
B2E area is primarily employee turnoff,
similar to the call-center scenario for
Software as a pharmaceutical.
One emerging business innovation
is mobile medical applications
distributed via a pharmaceutical
prescription. This was first achieved
in the U. S. by WellDoc in 2014 with
its Federal Drug Administration
(FDA) [ 4] class-2-approved
BlueStar prescription solution for
type 2 diabetes patients. BlueStar
demonstrated in clinical trials that it
can lower the average long-term blood
glucose level (A1C) [ 5] of a high-risk
type 2 diabetic by approximately
two percentage points, similar to
or even better than several popular
drugs. This mobile-health solution
was granted its own prescription drug
code and is financially adjudicated as
a pharmaceutical. Doctors prescribe
it, and insurance companies that have
added it to their formulary reimburse a
monthly subscription cost. If patients
do not use it regularly, the insurance
company is not billed.
This introduces a constraint never
seen before in a mobile domain: The
user needs to refill their prescription
every 90 days to keep the app
active. The doctor must draft a new
prescription every year. The refill-and-renew UX flows are embedded in
the application but are constrained
by the pharmaceutical adjudication
process. These flows are the highest-priority “can’t fail” experiences (other
than dosing insulin), both to keep
the patient healthy and to keep the
The non-prescription version,
which does not contain insulin-dosing
capability, can follow the typical app-store distribution model but, like most
health solutions, is likely to integrate
into the broader Apple Health or
Samsung sHealth platforms because
users are frequently managing their
entire quantified self with more than
one health objective at a time. Delivery