5 Top Tips to Create Effective Quick Guides for Complex Medical Products

 In Medical Product Design, User Insights & Design Research

The FDA recommends that all medical products with some level of complexity include appropriate instructions for use (IFU). Doing so ensures the user will be able to fully understand how to utilize the product. While the FDA’s recommendations are geared toward easy comprehension, IFUs are seldom easy to comprehend, thus users often ignore them entirely.

The solution? A quick guide that is a simplified version of the IFU. Quick guides become an essential tool for users to get started with your medical product.

Here are five key methods for consideration when designing your next quick guide.

Visually Rich vs. Text Rich

In order for a quick guide to achieve the goal of being simple, you must reduce the amount of text you include. When describing the process involving a task or operation, prioritize what details you can only express in text. There’s the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that definitely applies to creating a successful quick guide. Tell the process visually with just enough text to support it. This will allow your user to focus on the essential process of using your product.

Illustrate with Focus and Simplicity

The way that you illustrate the process in your quick guide greatly affects the ease of comprehension for a user. Whether you choose to go with illustrations or photographs, it is important not to overwhelm your user with too much detail. Through visual styling you can create emphasis on the main actions or touchpoints that will aid quicker understanding for the end user.

One way we do this at MPE (Formerly Mindflow) is by creating monotone product line drawings with specific details highlighted in color to illuminate what we want the user to focus on. This design tactic makes it crystal clear what is most important as a takeaway for the user from the drawing.

Group Tasks and Operations

The organization of information is imperative to clearly illustrate a process. Group tasks and operations that go together in order to clarify your medical product’s usage. Does the process of using your medical product require multiple steps? Group related steps together and create illustrations that sum up that step completely. This makes understanding complex operations logical and concise.

While developing a quick guide for a company we defined the main steps of the total operation and then visually grouped the sub steps within a box. This segmented it well against the other steps.

The Physical Format Matters

Getting the physical format of a quick guide right plays a large role in successfully framing the content inside. You should consider how and where the user will be using the quick guide. Will they need each step on a single page to create a stronger focus for each step or do they need the whole process laid out on a single page so they can post it on a wall.

We recently produced a quick guide and tested small verses large sized guides with the intended user group.   We found that the guide needed to fit in a clinician’s hand and be transported easily so the smaller one was preferred.

Clear and Concise Text can Make the Difference

The terminology and text content needs to be appropriate for the intended audience. We recommend having a domain expert on hand to assist the writer in choosing the right nomenclature. Boiling down the text to the essentials is important.  Less text is more, as long as the illustrations are doing their job effectively.  Communicate clearly and concisely with the reader to avoid confusion.

It is a challenging task to develop a simple, yet strong and effective quick guide. One that reduces perceived complexity and gives users confidence to proceed.  Following these five tips will help you create a highly effective quick guide.


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