A user-centred design process for Femtech

Patricia Cervantes
July 2023

Femtech is unstoppable because it’s here to solve problems. It’s designed to meet specific and unique health and wellness needs that were otherwise ignored. It’s the digital revolution we’ve all been waiting for, but is every new player doing it right?

The answer is no.

This article is a reminder that in Femtech (as with other digital health products and services), users have to come first.

Don’t forget them. Don’t put them second. Don’t leave them as an afterthought. They need to be the basis for your Femtech design from day one, and with you on the journey for any changes, updates, and additions to your product or service, for it to be a success.

Your users have got your back. If you have theirs.

If you listen to their views from day one then you’ll know you’re on the right track, and if you use their needs and wants as a foundation to design and serve, then it will shine through in the product. Users will then be evangelical about it and recommend and promote it, and help to evolve it when the time comes to take the next step.

Here is an outline of the process to take to be user-centred…

User research

Carrying out user research is essential. If you already have an audience that you’re connected to then you can find out a lot just from starting conversations. However, it’s important to know that secondary data, such as quantitative stats, simply don’t paint a picture of the context behind real users’ needs. They might give a what, but they usually lack the why. And unstructured conversations with random target users may only provide limited insight.

Running discovery phase research ensures that you really get a true understanding of the scenarios you are trying to support. This process has a proven methodology, whereby first the vision and objectives are established and the problem is framed and defined and interrogated to ensure there is a clear, robust, and representative problem statement.

Next, it’s time to carry out primary research i.e. talk to a sufficiently large set of representative users. We have to ensure we involve different types of users, of different ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic demographics

Then engage in semi-structured workshops and 1-2-1 interviews to establish barriers, needs, wants, and current experiences. The value of primary research conducted in this way is that it allows us to gain a clear first-hand understanding of what the core problems are, and why they are happening, along with suggestions of what the audience need or want as solutions.

Prototyping and user testing

If you have a product idea and get it built based solely on personal or team desires and assumptions, around how it should work, then it will fail.

If we instead design from the perspective of users, armed with actionable insights from talking to them about their needs, then we’re able to build a prototype that directly addresses their exact requirements.

This is the most agile, efficient, and effective way to design.

A prototype means that a solution can be designed and made accessible for users and stakeholders to explore and interrogate, all before any costly coding or development begins. In order to gain feedback through user testing, to then make changes and iterations, in order to improve it based on user needs.

This can be done over a number of rounds to ensure that iterations and additions all work as the users need and want them to.

It means we get validation for everything we design, from the people that will use the product or service in the end.

Data visualisation

We can also use design solutions to offer users more utility. For example, in the work we did for the Pausetrack Perimenopause Tracking App, we began the product journey by carrying out a design sprint and prototyping an MVP for Dr. Claire Mann, which went to market and became successful.

However, as part of a user-centred ethos, customers were engaged with post-launch to find out what else they wanted and feedback showed that users wanted to be able to track their symptoms on a calendar

Therefore we created an enhanced version 2 of the app with new user-centred features, including a new calendar interface to display symptoms and periods, and a function allowing users to track their period using a simple start/stop button, as well as access to educational resources, community support, and advice.

Do more with user data

Another element of the user-centred enhancements to the Pausetrack app were to allow users to compare the effects and benefits of interventions, to identify what solutions work best for them.

This allows users to make positive changes, by having a tool to monitor the actions they take in order to identify trends and make better personal choices.

It’s important to explore how user data can be used and presented in ways that are easy to access and understand, yet insightful and empowering to users.

One size does not fit all

Femtech supports a wide range of health challenges across reproductive health, menstrual health, fertility management, pregnancy care, postpartum support, menopause, sexual wellness, mental health and wellbeing.

Within this there’s a multiplicity of varying perceptions, concerns, and preferences. As such work has to be done to unify user needs sufficiently within a solution, or to offer personalised or customisable options for users who may need a different experience or service.

Users may want a very different service

Sometimes user research and testing isn’t just about making a service, features, user experience, or user interface better. Sometimes they will tell you they want something very different from the original idea.

A great example of this is Ammi, a mental wellbeing and expert advice platform for new parents, which is predominantly geared towards new mothers.

The original idea was to create a platform that would offer therapeutic tools to new parents, along with community - the ability to connect with other mothers or fathers for support.

However, by carrying out user research and user testing it was found that new parents didn’t want community support (they already had friends, family, NCT groups etc). But what they were lacking, the thing that was a problem and a real concern, was about getting clear expert advice on key parenting issues, when the internet is full of contradictory advice.

Therefore user testing showed that new parents wanted access to specific expert advice. As such the design of the prototype shifted to incorporate access to messaging and video calls with experts around the world. Enabling the CEO, Priyanka, to seek funding based on user needs.

Let's fight for Femtech funding!

Did you know that within the health sector, only a tiny fraction of funding goes towards female health? In 2020 it was just 4%. This is rising slowly, thanks to the growth and prominence of the Femtech movement, but there needs to be more!

For example, there is five times more research into erectile dysfunction which affects about 20% of men, compared to premenstrual syndrome, which affects around 90% of women. This is unbelievable. But thanks to user-centred apps like Pausetrack, which was able to win funding for both the first MVP build and the second enhanced version build, by showing investors prototypes backed-up by user data, it means that we can start to address this disparity and get more funding for Femtech development and R&D.

However, there are so many other areas of cisgender women’s health that need support. For example, women are more negatively impacted by autoimmune disorders, anxiety, arthritis, Alzheirems, and heart disease, to name a few, because these conditions present differently.

This is why we have a responsibility to move women’s health forward, through Femtech and digital solutions that put women and users first.

We can help

Femtech is a way to drive change. A shift that puts users in control of their own bodies and empowers them to make informed, autonomous decisions about their health. It's a movement that’s transforming healthcare and wellness, but for it to be effective it always has to be user-centred.

We work with Femtech and sexual health and wellness companies and organisations to make effective products and services that create positive outcomes for users. We do this by offering everything from accessible design sprint and prototyping packages to start-ups (via our Pace Prototypes service) to offering full discovery phase research, design, and build, for scale-ups and larger organisations.

We have unique experience within the sector, so if you would like to know more, ask any questions, or get any support, then please drop us an email at

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