Ever wonder what the inside of an at-home cholesterol test looks like?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011



Photo (and destruction for the sake of science) credit: Tito Jankowski

Tons of paper
Tons of plastic
Little bitty test strip

The test is poorly designed and surprisingly hard to use*. How could we do this better?

* For what the test is, it has a disproportionately complex set of instructions for you to follow as you go through the steps: bleed yourself, put the blood on the right spot.  That much is not complicated, but the pamphlet you’re supposed to read as the blood runs down your finger is. Another element of bad design. 

* It takes a pro tip to know that you’ll need an extra lancet to draw enough blood to make the test work. Is it a conspiracy to use ineffective lancets – to cause tests to fail, requiring purchase of additional tests?

What if the test were just the paper strip, with the indicators on the paper? Blood here -> O. Markers up the sides. Same test, different look, less waste.

And the instructions… let’s limit these to one sheet (it’s too difficult to flip open a pamphlet to the English section with one hand) with minimal text and big pictures. Goal: make it easy to know what to do at a glance. The rest of the world has heard of infographics, why not a simple, yet unnecessarily overcomplicated at-home cholesterol test?

I question whether these tests are marketed at real people. Who would enjoy the experience described above? My impression is that the extra materials and reading are meant to make the test look more sophisticated (complicated, hard to understand) and professional, so that users trust the results. Well, in this massive design fail, it’s difficult to actually get the results (you’ve stopped bleeding by the time you figure out where the blood goes).

What if these tests were marketed for us? What would the hipster cholesterol test look like? To get this answer, I don’t look to the medical device insdustry, I look to designers, artists, architects. People who understand how beauty comes from functionality + simplicity. 

4 comments on “Ever wonder what the inside of an at-home cholesterol test looks like?

  1. PatrikD says:

    Hmm – pics missing? (and I assume you mean the inside of an at-home cholesterol *kit*?)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Did I ever mention how *not* detail oriented I am? ;pYou don’t see the picture? It shows up ginormously on my screen (Chrome browser).

  3. PatrikD says:

    Huh – I can see it now.I assume this is a "just add blood" kinda deal?

  4. Tito DANGER Jankowski says:

    Yea, with a few delicious drops of blood you can measure your cholesterolTito

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