under construction signage on laptop keyboard

User interface upgrades coming soon!

Following a preview in our Development Update last week, we are excited to share more details on our new user interface designs. This involves:

  • updating the colour palette across the system
  • presenting data in a clearer layout
  • making sure all screens are optimised for mobile devices
  • introducing a new options button where there are multiple actions available
  • making the source of data clearer 
  • ensuring we meet the latest accessibility standards.

First changes

In the first round of changes, we will update the colour scheme in Patients Know Best (PKB) to meet the latest accessibility standards and ensure our compliance with WCAG AA 2.1. These changes address some minor colour contrasting issues and will affect the background, link and button colours. The changes are being applied to give prominence to certain key elements and to help guide the eye of the user to the most important features. The changes will also enhance PKB branding to give users a more unified look and feel.


60% of our users are now logging in using a mobile device, so we will be addressing the presentation of data to show information more clearly and optimise this display for small screens.

We spent a significant amount of time researching which information users felt that was most important to see at a glance so we could display this data more prominently in the new design. This change will allow users to scan pages more easily and get the information they need efficiently. 

Our research also showed that some users struggled to find particular features on a page. Therefore, the new design collates these features into a new options menu. The menu will be represented by an ‘ellipsis’ which is now one of the most commonly used symbols for further actions. Clicking on the options menu will open a dropdown that lists the actions available, allowing better discoverability of functions.


Some of the first areas to be updated will be the tests, measurements and journal pages. Once these pages are complete, the changes will continue to be applied to all other areas.


We will be introducing new icons for user types to indicate the role of the user that entered data into records, to enable users to see at a glance whether data came from a patient, clinician or an institution’s record system. The rest of the source details such as date and method of entry, will all still be available when the source is clicked however, we will move this to a dropdown as it is secondary information that users don’t often need to see when scanning the page.


We will also be making changes to the user menus to improve ease of navigation. One of the first changes will be to make it mobile-friendly by building a larger hit area and updating the layout and icon style.


Our thinking

We have designed these upgrades from the ground up, covering all the user interface components and patterns. Our focus was on the ability to scan information easily, surfacing important data that was previously harder to find.

User feedback has been an essential part of our redesign process. We gather feedback regularly from users, be it directly with our growing network of users or via our support desk, where we regularly receive suggestions and feature requests. In December 2019, whilst working on our integration with the NHS App team, we were lucky to be part of a series of workshops with patients in which both existing users and people who had never seen PKB before were asked to complete a series of tasks on a test version. The workshops were incredibly insightful and gave us powerful feedback about what users really like about PKB and which areas require improvements. We then worked closely with some User Experience specialists to find solutions for these problem areas which helped to drive our new designs. We’re pleased that PKB is the first Patient-Held Record to integrate with the NHS App and we’re able to bring the learnings to all our users.

There have been several iterations on the design phases and I have included some of these in screenshots above to give you some insight on the process. We are now at a stage where we can start development on these changes – and our users can expect to see these implemented gradually across all pages in 2020.

By Ruth Whichelow, Senior Project Manager and Peter Pelles, Product Designer at Patients Know Best.

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