Improving the member portal to increase participant enrollment and engagement in research

I have omitted confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not reflect the views of Verily. 

Lead UX designer

1 UXR, 2 PMs, 10 ENG

2021 Q1

Desktop & mobile web, mobile app


Designing a user experience to improve participant enrollment and activity completion within studies. 


I led UX strategy and execution. Working with 2 product managers and 10+ engineers to deliver the following design solution in less than a quarter.


Launched in Q2 2021, by EoY we increased the average month-over-month enrollment rate from -4% to +11%, and increased monthly engagement of existing participants from 27% to 42%.


Without study enrollment and activity (survey) completion, 
there is less medical advancement

1. Surveys gather data
Can’t gather data before consent (enrolled)

2. Data is analyzed
If the data isn't there, then researchers can't do analysis, can't submit to FDA, becomes an unusable study.

3. New health insights
Discoveries can be new treatments, personal health insights returned to the individual, health policy, etc.


Our product had a small number of studies built over years and with few participants. As COVID started, the number of studies exploded over several months

Heuristic analysis revealed that our member portal was not made to scale to this size. UX issues appeared almost immediately.

Activities across multiple studies are mixed together without priority. Overwhelm equals lower compliance.

Activities for enrolling to new study opportunities are buried in a very long feed.

Activity deadlines are passed because there's no sense of when activities must be complete by.

This is a permanent banner. It takes a lot of real estate and hides activities below the fold.


Our product started falling in 2 key metrics

4% Month-over-month average decrease in enrollment from
January to June 

1% Month-over-month average decrease in engagement rate from January to June

Our hypothesis was that enrollment and required activities were hard to find because they were being hidden below the fold, and also mixed in with many lower priority activities in the member feed, making it easy to miss important activities

For confidentiality reasons I have omitted the actual values for these metrics.  


How might we improve the existing member portal to highlight critical activities related to studies, while promoting new studies to enroll into?

There were roadblocks in this project

Less than a quarter to implement.
We had to improve client relationships.

Due to strained client relationships, enrollment and activity compliance became a top priority to immediately address. Leadership decisions were made to improve the member portal in less than a quarter. 

Limited UXR with end users

The process to talk to real participants was lengthy and time consuming. I had to rely on feedback from study operations, existing UXR, and usability feedback from the internal team.

Large ENG debt on our product

I later learned that even proposing a new button to add in our product would take months. The existing ENG debt forced me to later approach the problem with proposals that took lower lift.


I first led a design workshop with UXD + PM to generate ideas

I hypothesized that it would be best to highlight opportunities at the top, and then toggle between studies so that activity lists are bite-sized and study relevant


After reviewing with ENG and UXR, some issues arose with concept A

High ENG lift

Product had been built to be single feed. dependencies required BE work to break apart IA into different screens. It would take more than 1-2 quarters to implement.

Less value for participants

Most participants tended to sign up for no more than 2-3 studies. With less than a dozen studies, there was less immediate value to explicitly have study activities in their own pages.

Activities would be hidden

Any activities below the fold were significantly less likely to be completed. One concern was that this approach would hide certain activities until the relevant study was explicitly selected.


I landed on concept B, which keeps all study activities in one page, and groups them by study

Low ENG lift
This approach would be able to be implemented in the current quarter.

More value for participants
Less clicking to find the right tasks to complete across studies. Everything is in one feed.

No tasks are hidden
Since all tasks are on the same page, the highest priority ones naturally move to the top and are visible. 

Additional design features improved the participant experience of completing activities (based on UXR sessions from more than a dozen participants in existing studies).

When an activity is complete, remaining activities shift up. Prioritization is based on due date. 

Activities are grouped within their relevant studies.

Worked with UXW to create a celebratory “all done!” message if there are no more tasks available.

In-progress indicator to indicate to the participant how far along they are in an activity or study enrollment.


Web MVP launched in Q2 2021, by EoY we exceeded the 2021 OKR for engagement, and increased enrollment rates

11% month-over-month average increase in enrollment from June to December 

3% month-over-month average increase in engaged participants from June to December (27% total engagement in June, to 42% in December)

For confidentiality reasons I have omitted the actual values for these metrics.