I am passionate about achieving excellent user experience and educational quality in the tools and visualizations I create. The aesthetic quality of a biomedical visualization is very important, but even more important is its ability to teach and truly illuminate. Research and project testing is a key part of achieving this goal. For my master’s project, I had the wonderful opportunity to create an educational tool designed based on a solid foundation: research about audience needs.

(Note: external links have not been activated in this prototype.)

Project Background


An rTMS treatment session set-up.

There is a novel, effective therapy for major depressive disorder called rTMS. However, not many prospective patients know about rTMS or what it is. Thus, the goal with this project was to create an accessible online educational tool for prospective patients to learn about rTMS therapy for depression.

How to best design an educational tool to meet the unique needs of an audience with major depression? Research shows that those with major depression can have lower motivation and ability to concentrate. There are also documented patient sensitivities associated with the stigma of mental illness and fear of treatment. These can become barriers to treatment that must be overcome. However, there has been little research on the practical educational needs of this audience.

In order to create a module that meets the needs of the prospective patient audience, a needs assessment was performed to direct the design of the project.

Needs Assessment

Data was collected in 14 prospective patient interviews at Toronto Western Hospital’s rTMS clinic. Participants were asked about their information seeking habits, resource satisfaction, worries and concerns. Participants were shown the existing rTMS Clinic website and asked to give their feedback about website navigation, aesthetic, media, writing and overall usefulness of the website. These interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The results of this study were then used to inform module design. (To see a summary of some of the research findings, check out the research poster I presented at the Association of Medical Illustrators Conference 2013.)

Module Creation

The project scope was determined with the help of my committee, Dr. Jodie Jenkinson and Dr. Jonathan Downar. A wireframe (navigation and content organization prototype) and storyboard (written and visual content prototype) for the project were developed. This was an iterative process: modifications were made along the way based on the results of the evaluation. Illustrations were created primarily with Adobe Photoshop. Animations were created with Adobe After Effects. The use of asset lists and project timelines were used to keep track of the large amount of module content during development. A customized WordPress framework was developed for the module.

See the module prototype (Note: external links have not been activated in this prototype.)

Here are a few screenshots from the completed module:


Feel free to contact me if you would like to see the full research paper or process documents. I am very happy to share this research.


Study Participants
Biomedical Communications Faculty and Students
Dr. Jodie Jenkinson and Dr. Jonathan Downar (Project Committee)