During the alpha we identified a set of 49 user needs for 2 conditions – type 2 diabetes and mild to moderate anxiety and depression (MMAD).

User needs form the basis of our content. But we can also use them to develop a common way to structure information – a content framework.

We need such a framework to guide the user through a wide range of conditions in a way that’s easy to follow and consistent.

From user needs to ‘epic need’

So how can we build a general content framework from a set of needs that are specific to 2 conditions?

We did this by looking for commonalities among the needs we had identified so far and by grouping them into information clusters. We call these clusters ‘epics’.

An epic basically summarises an overarching information need a user has at a certain point in the journey through their condition.

The 7 epics we identified are:

  • Prevention – I don’t want to get X
  • Trigger – I don’t feel right and need help
  • Booking – I need to book and manage appointments
  • Appointments – I need to prepare for an appointment
  • Treatment – I’m having treatment and need to do/know X
  • Medication – I’m taking medication and need to do/know X
  • Living with – I’m living with a condition and need X

These epics are the foundation of our information structure.

We’ve listed them here in a chronological order. But, of course, users don’t behave that way when looking at information online. They enter at various points and jump around. So the way we use these epics is much more organic.

Image 1 user epics

For example, in personalised content, like our diabetes planner, the order the user interacts with various pieces of information would be determined by when they have to attend which appointment.

Using epics as building blocks

Our current list of epics isn’t exhaustive but it’s a start. We can now pick and choose from it and use these information blocks to structure content for other conditions.

When we do this we’ll ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Which epics apply to condition X?
  • Which user needs sit under each condition?
  • Does condition X have any additional epics that we need to add to our list?

For example, the information structure for a condition like type 2 diabetes would be quite complex with 7 epics.

Image 2 user epics

A much simpler condition, like chickenpox, might only include the epics for trigger and medication.

Image 3 user epics

Around these selected epics we then group the relevant user needs for the condition. In our model we’ve also included another layer of overarching needs (in green) between epic and user needs to structure the information further.

Where we want to go from here

We want to test our 7 epics model and stretch it as far as we can. We can do this by applying it to a range of conditions that require very different actions from the user. Slowly, our model will become more formed and sound. We’ll continue to test it with users so we can refine and adapt our thinking.

We can then use this model to identify information structures for different types of conditions and, eventually, develop content templates.

However, this work is never done. In health, the medical information and the needs users have change and evolve constantly. This means we’ll have to be flexible and ready to expand and change our epics model when required.


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