Redesigning Columbia University's genomics app for on-the-go analysis

Columbia UniversityNew York, USA2019
BrandingUX/UI DesignDesign SystemFront-end Development

The challenge

Optimizing the ACGEN platform so scientists can do genetic analysis from anywhere

Columbia University’s Biomedical Informatics Department had created a functional prototype for ACGEN, a platform for genomic analysis. But it was difficult to use and slow to load. In order to be useful, it needed to be agile, user friendly, and fast.

The Biomedical Informatics team needed help optimizing the platform design so that researchers could search for chromosomes. Plus, they were thinking ahead to the future, and wanted to make an easily scalable platform that they could eventually manage with their own in-house dev team. That’s where we come in.

The solution

Revamped branding, better UX, and a design system for scalability

Designing ACGEN involved understanding complicated, industry-specific topics. We immersed ourselves in the subject matter and worked closely alongside the client during the initial phases to make sure we were aligned on the shared vision of the product.

“The faculty are going to lose their minds when they realize they can RUN A GENOMICS ANALYSIS WHILE THEY’RE ON ROUNDS!!!”

Nicholas Tatonetti

PhD, Director, Clinical Informatics, Institute for Genomic Medicine

1. Discovery

We kicked off the project with a discovery workshop to interview the department’s experts and identify the key challenges, opportunities, and goals for the platform.

Expert interviews

Project goal

Challenges ahead

2. Branding

We hosted a one-day branding workshop to help the team align on the why, how, and what behind this project. This makes it easy to align the visual branding to be aligned with that brand vision.

3. UX Analysis & Recommendations

Then we analyzed the existing prototype that Columbia had, and mapped out UX recommendations for the best user experience.

This intensive discovery phase and close collaboration with the Columbia team made for a smooth, straightforward process to develop the product’s new UI and design system.

The results

A usable, scalable, mobile-friendly platform to generate and validate genetics hypotheses

Initially, the ACGEN platform design was only going to be a desktop product. After seeing the desktop and mobile versions, the client saw the enormous potential for providing researchers with access to the platform from any device and decided to develop a mobile version.

The design system meant that every single component of the product was documented so that Columbia’s in-house developers could scale the platform as much as they needed, without having to come back to us to redesign new pages or elements.

Launch the design system

“We are super excited about the designs and happy with the direction that's being taken. I'm very satisfied!”

Nicholas Tatonetti

PhD, Director, Clinical Informatics, Institute for Genomic Medicine

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