Novartis’ CibaVision subsidiary has released a new iPhone app, called the Academy for Eyecare Excellence. I have downloaded it and am going to write this review “live” – that is, give my impressions as I walk through it. I believe that intuitive user interface is the key to good software design, so let’s see how this app strikes a newbie from a user experience point of view.
When I first use any app, I want to feel a sense of intuitive ease with the interface, AND I’d like a little “Wow” factor. The home page interface is a bit busy, but the Intro video of two guys talking about what the app can do for you is very impressive – smooth, hi-res, and motivating. Thumbs up on that idea!
From the initial screen, the user can jump to Courses, Video, and Articles. Let’s try Courses…OK, two courses present (on contact lenses, of course), several future courses listed. The course is structured in topical nuggets, each of which is a tasty combination of video and animation with nice, clear narration. I cannot comment on how helpful these little courses will be for eyecare professionals, but I can say, as someone with a lot of background in eLearning design, that this is pretty good stuff from a production standpoint. Thumbs up here.
The Video section is just promo videos for the digital Ciba educational properties, including this app. This could eventually be a potential repository for helpful little practical hints, or clinical updates, if Ciba heads in that direction – right now, it seems like a placeholder. Thumb at rest in horizontal position.
Articles doesn’t go anywhere. I assume there will be resources populating this at some point. Thumb hiding.
On the bottom navigation bar is a button for Academy, which opens up (essentially) a miniaturized website explaining CibaVision’s educational approach and offerings. The iPhone form factor is not ideal for information structured this way – small type and standard web navigation design. Thumbs down – not on the idea of explaining more about the offerings, but on the information design. There is also a button fro Prof. Affairs which currently goes nowhere.
-> It occurs to me that perhaps the two non-functional buttons are because I registered as an “Other”, not as one of the designated titles for an eyecare professional. So, I just left the app and registered under a different name, as an Opthamologist. And, sure enough, now those nav buttons are occupied! The Prof. Affairs is just a repeat of the intro video – a placeholder, nothing to see here – but the Articles now show a couple of article summaries with a link to the .pdf. Sparse here at launch, but the potential is there. Plus, you are invited to pop open (to full screen) an ad for one of the CibaVision contact lens products.
There is also a Back and a More button on the bottom – Back does what you’d expect, and More gives links to CibaVision site; Acknowledgements; a Contact link (which opens up your e-mail); and Tell a Friend (also e-mail driven). Nothing special.
OK, let’s sum up:
Putting on my branding hat: The visual design, naming, and branding are mediocre. The graphical elements used, and page layouts, are only so-so.
Putting on my application user experience hat: It has potential. Right now, I question the value, especially for the amount of personal information I’ve “given up” at registration. And the experience is “choppy” and stitched together – cool video here, clunky web interface there, etc. The app doesn’t feel smooth and well-integrated (yet).
Putting on my eLearning/professional education hat: Very nice. With lots of potential to evolve.
It is a one-way application – nothing truly interactive or social about it. I think a lot of first-gen pharma apps will fall into that camp. I’d have to say that this one is not particularly compelling, unless an eyecare professional really needs those courses in the palm of their hands. Then, there’s clear value.
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