Simple Product Design: How We “Get Out of the Way” for Our Users

It’s easy to add 10 buttons. It’s hard to take them away.

Aug 10, 2021

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When we set out to create Teckro, we wanted to build something that people could intuitively use and that would deliver real, immediate impact. I’m a huge advocate of “first principles thinking.” This involves questioning every assumption we think we know, starting with a blank page and building from there.

I’m also a firm believer that less is more. The ethos of German industrial designer Dieter Rams, a pioneer in industry minimalism famous for his book Ten Principles of Good Design inspired us when it came to building Teckro. If you want a famous example of the influence Rams has had on design, look no further than Apple’s sleek, simple, “pure” products. In fact, Jony Ive, Apple chief designer until 2019, even wrote a book about Rams,  mentioning how when he first came across his designs he was “enchanted” by the “effortless” design of…a juicer. A true testament to the universality of Rams’ design principles!  

The Technology of Getting Out of the Way

With Teckro, our goal wasn’t to build something 10% faster or cheaper but to take a novel approach to challenges in clinical trial operations. If we consider Rams’ 10th principle: “Good design is as little design as possible,” much of technology today is the opposite. Technology can be overly complicated, especially in clinical trials where the design tends to ignore those on the ground in research settings who need simple, immediate access on the go. But with Teckro, we wanted there to be a kind of “inevitability” where Teckro is a vital part of a researcher’s daily toolkit, not simply another complicated app added to the site’s expanding technology stack.

After all, the clinical trial industry is incredibly complex with many stakeholders involved in the process. The sponsor biopharma company developing the drug. The physician and other staff at the site. And of course, the research participant – the patient. Then you can consider the number of technology solutions, many of which are designed to digitize existing clinical processes, such as data capture, informed consent, etc. It’s quite overwhelming when you look at the number of products competing for attention in the clinical trial space. Not to knock the value of these other solutions, but we found through our user research that many of the solutions for clinical trials are designed from the sponsor standpoint and existing paper processes, not necessarily with all the other stakeholders in mind or designed to truly improve how clinical trials operate.   

With Teckro, we were never about what could be bolted on to an existing process, but rather what could be taken away to make clinical trials simpler. And to do this, it was important to “get out of the way” figuratively speaking. The Teckro team focused and conducts in-depth research on what was really important to all stakeholders – sponsors and sites alike, as well as patients.

Our goal is to build empathic products for those under huge pressure operating under time constraints. It’s strange that in the modern era the industry still relies on paper protocols and outdated modes of communication. We use apps to book holidays, doctor appointments and to navigate journeys during our daily lives. Yet the clinical trials industry seems stuck in the past. To bring the industry into the 21st Century, our objectives are to simplify and modernize clinical trials through “unobtrusive” and “honest” design thinking.

Building Empathy to Deliver Value

When people use Teckro for the first time, we often get feedback that Teckro is a “no brainer” and requests for Teckro on all clinical trials. I was delighted when I heard one person compare Teckro’s impact on the industry to man’s invention of fire! It’s always positive to get validation from your users and clients. At Teckro we always strive to go that one step further, to focus on ease-of-use and how we help our users to do their jobs better and faster. This way of thinking is reflected in the most successful companies in the world – think Apple’s “pure” product design, Google’s search bar, Whatsapp’s instant chat.

I’ve always been attracted to solving big problems. And given my decades working with the clinical trial industry, there are big problems to solve to engage and enable all stakeholders in ways that advance drug development. It shouldn’t matter if it’s a Phase I study or a decentralized trial where activities are conducted remotely. We live in a world where real-time communication is simply part of our everyday lives, so why not with clinical trials?

Seamless communication and access to relevant information when and where you need it are keys to breaking down barriers in the clinical trials space. By applying design thinking principles and keeping user empathy top of mind, I believe Teckro’s core ethos of “less is more” allows us to make Teckro into a verb. Everyone’s instinct these days is to grab their phones. Now they can “Teckro the answer” when they are faced with a decision about their clinical trials. And, in just a couple of seconds, the answer is back. Nice, and simple. By design.

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Every clinical trial starts with a question

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the answer


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