Reflections on my MA studies

Reflection on my MA in Interaction Design in IT Carlow. September 2015, when I started my journey into Master’s level in education, little did I know how emotionally invested I would become. The process I went through slowly brought me into a world of change and reflection. Reflection on my journey, my actions, my feelings, my design work, my design process itself and the research process.

Throughout the year, I have ‘discovered’ that I have a penchant for research and writing. I’ve also discovered the ways that I value learning, gaining knowledge, and sharing knowledge. Perhaps it’s a by-product of being a web designer, in that I’ve always felt the need to educate my clients, to the ways of going about presenting information to their own clients. Ways to design a particular aspect of a website and informing clients as to why a particular approach might be right for them, or just right for their website from a semantic perspective.

The subject of my thesis was the re-design of an Irish nursing website, using design thinking and co-design with nurses. Co-design, for me, is a form of ‘sense-making’, particularly so when the individuals who need the web service are encouraged to make sense of their own online environment. Co-designing with the nurses proved to be a very worthwhile methodology as a process to aid them in realising their own needs and wants from their website.

Thoughts on ‘Designing a Healthcare Revolution’ in Ireland



Yesterday evening I went to NCAD to hear Richard Corbridge CIO of eHealth Ireland, talk about the 10-year plan for improving the Irish health service. The event was billed as; “How to Design a Healthcare Revolution”, supported by IxDA Dublin and UX Ireland. Great work has been done to date such as the implementation of GP e-referrals across all of Ireland, this a major step in digitising healthcare. The implementation of a fully integrated eHealth system within the next 10 years in Ireland certainly seems to hold several challenges.

I’m a pragmatic designer and having carried out research for my MA IxD dissertation, which focused on the needs of Nurses and how they access information and knowledge in their workplace, I am at odds with how this is going to pan out. eHealth Ireland already have buy-in from the clinicians and administrators (Doctors and Nurses) who have their finger on the pulse of technology and social media. From the primary research I have carried out during my M.A., it shows there is a significant portion of H.S.E. Nursing staff who have limited access to information and knowledge in their workplace. Additionally, Gerrish et al (2006), state that ‘Nurses tend to use colleagues rather than on-line sources of information as a primary source for answering their clinical questions’. The authors ascribe this to nurses’ lack of confidence and infrequency in using medical databases to inform their decision-making. This research suggests that IT is generally not seen as being part of Nursing culture.

Being a designer I fear there is little empathy for the non-technically orientated people who work on the frontline in our hospitals. These are people who bear the brunt of the stresses and strains of the HSE system. From what I gather a lot of the collaboration that is going on between eHealth Ireland and the ‘Clinicians and Administrators’ is with a certain cohort who are tech-savvy and active on Twitter. The question I now ask eHealth Ireland is how are the Nurses with limited access to tech in their daily working lives, going to integrate with the new systems and become engaged in how it works? As advocated by eHealth Ireland, stakeholder engagement (as opposed to ICT alone) is at the core of their strategy for change, however, engagement is needed from the frontline staff who are not already engaged – these are the people who need to be ‘bought in’ to successfully address integration in order to partake the flow of knowledge and information – to get the system working on a practical level.

There were lots of questions from the audience about the Persona Project that’s being run by eHealth Ireland. The primary need of persona creation is where there is no access to real end-users. Person creation is a designer’s tool to imagine future users. However, the HSE does not seem to be short on end-users (patients/doctors/nurses). I believe that primary research based on real users’ experience is paramount in addressing the current problem. Because of a Designer’s perspective and training, they can help resolve the problems from an ethnographic design research perspective. A primary user-centered design principle is to; ‘work with those affected by the product or service’, and iterate, iterate, iterate, in a continuous collaborative environment.

When asked how many UX Designers work for eHealth Ireland? Richard Corbridge replied “not enough”, he also reported there’s not enough Design Thinking going on in his office either. It was inspiring to hear directly from him about how eHealth Ireland plan to implement a new system and it’s heartening to hear their approach is a ‘people-led’ one, rather than an IT one. However, it seems Designers’ involvement in changing the health service still has a long way to go, and as recently advocated by Frontend at ‘Pixels to Policy‘, it’s up to designers to make it happen. While I certainly do not advocate that designers are the solution to all the problems of the Irish Health Service, what I do believe is that designers with their design process and unique perspective can help facilitate change through collaboration with other health professionals.

Richard Corbridge invited designers who would like to get involved in eHealth Ireland’s project, so hopefully this invitation is a step in the right direction that is needed to reform healthcare provision in the public service.

Imagine a day when Interaction Designers and UX Designer positions actually exist in the public service?

Collaboration with Frontend and IOM

Sandra Reid pictured at Frontend/IOM Collaboration

Image source: (Working with a fellow student in Frontend’s studio).

A Future Vision for Migrant Healthcare

Following on from a previous post, the end result of the collaboration with Frontend and IOM (The Internation Organisation for Migration), culminated in a ‘Future Vision for Migrant Healthcare‘, encapsulated in a video and website, telling the story of the collaboration and the solution.

The project highlights the work carried out and how it might proceed in reality for migrant health.

It was an honour to have been chosen to be part of this worthy collaboration.

Better still, I’m proud to say I’m now an International Interaction (IxD) Design Awardee, 2017.

IOM – Reimaging Medication Labelling

Collaboration and design at Frontend Bootcamp

Migrant project with Frontend/IOM

For three days this week, I had the pleasure of being part of a collaboration between Frontend – a UX Design Consultancy based in Dublin and The International Organisation for Migration – IOMJohn Buckley from Frontend, organised the bootcamp event – kudos to John!

I, along with two other MA students from  plus seven other MA in Interaction Design students from around Ireland, were selected to take part in a three day long design bootcamp.  I saw this as an extremely valuable opportunity to work on a very meaningful project, with real social impact.

Having listened to the story of a Syrian family’s journey by foot to Germany, I was engulfed with a sense of empathy, and compassion. In my younger years I had the experience of hitch-hiking around various parts of Europe.  I was immediately brought back to memories of ‘being on the road’ and all the feelings of being reliant on the generosity of other people. It’s one thing having a choice to do something but it’s an entirely different scenario when one is forced to flee their home, like the Syrians.

Design Task

Within a group of ten designers, we formed four groups working collaboratively to tackle various aspects of the problem, to arrive at solutions encompassing Service Design, Information Design, An App or Website, along with a Product Design solution.   Our broad task was to design a health pack for the physical well being of the migrants, and to direct information to IOM and the Aid Workers via an online solution. The problem required a systems thinking approach, one which would connect all the facets of the situation.

Mind Map

With emotion and empathy deeply ingrained, I began looking at the problem from the perspectives of the Migrant, The IOM and the Aid Workers. What follows is my first initial conceptual mind-map on the problem, which informed the service design team’s thinking on the problem.Mind Map




As with all complex problems, initial thoughts always begin with looking at the problem holistically. In this case it was the interactions between the Migrants, the Aid Workers and the IOM, and how an online solution could narrow the gaps of communication between all impacted by the problem, and ultimately help provide some form of aid to the migrants. (Red coloured infographic compliments of the service design team).

My heart goes out to the migrants, hopefully our involvement is the start of something that can really make a difference.


IxD – Interaction Design


Interaction Mapping

This is a project I’ve been working on for a while now. The above interaction map has been defined and drawn up based on research with users and stakeholders who are part of a non-profit Irish nursing organisation. Gaps have been identified, followed by a design hypothesis that co-creation can have a positive impact on the future building of the website.

As this is an ongoing project, further extensive research will be required with key players in the NCPA/HSE. It is hoped that these stakeholders will partake in the flow of information that the nurses require to enable them to carry out their work on a daily basis.

For a full view of the interaction map, please see this larger version.

Co-Creation form building workshop.

Academic Poster


Another ‘to do’ ticked off the list – this is my end of year, academic poster which gives an idea of what I’ve been focusing on for my Masters in Interaction Design.

I’ve loved every minute of this journey into problem definition, and answer seeking with lecturers and design peers at IT Carlow, along with a group of nurses who kindly gave of their time to be the subjects of my research.

If you’re interested, hit the image to read a larger version of the poster in pdf format.

UX – User Experience

Experience map

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction”.

Alvin Toffler (a futurist).

Good UX

What Toffler describes here sounds like plain common sense, but it’s surprising how little common sense prevails when it comes to the basics of navigating the web. Good UX is good sense.

As a UX Designer, my job is to delve deep into client needs and more importantly to the end user needs. It involves looking at a problem from all angles, involving all invested in the project outcomes. When addressing a problem, the audience, the stakeholders and the over all constraints of the project are looked at in detail.

Throughout the design process which entails; Strategy, Research, Analysis, Design and Development, there are several iterations of feedback undertaken throughout all stages of the process. Primarily, the most important aspect that underpins all of the above is consistent communication and correspondence throughout the project between you the client, your stakeholders, end-users and your designer.

Content may be king in the world of web surfers, but communication is king in the world of a successful UX strategy.

Co-Designing for better experiences


What is Co-Design?

Co-Design is sometimes called ‘Co-Creation’ and is where everyone who is impacted by the design of your product or service is brought together to design. This includes service or product business owners, end users and all stakeholders. Strictly speaking co-design is a ‘plan of action’ for the strategy for the process, whereas co-creation is the actual ‘doing/designing’ part.

Contrary to our main beliefs, everyone is a designer when you ‘co-design’. You might not know photoshop or a string of code – you don’t have to, you leave that to the experts, after all that’s why you hire us. What you and your end-users have is more valuable than money can buy, it’s the deep insight, knowledge and understanding of what you expect your website, product or service to do when it’s designed properly. The combination of collaborating together to create a great user experience, coupled with a favourable mindset that you ‘are the expert of your experiences’ – can be extremely empowering and will deliver great user-friendly design results.

If you’re interested in co-designing your next project, please get in touch by email.


A new place

Welcome to my new website showcasing a collection of works completed over the last few years.

As is the nature of all websites, or should be, this website is a work in progress. This site will be in a state of flux over the next few weeks as I populate it with words and visuals, so keep posted.