Dexcom G5

MY ROLE: Lead UX Researcher & Designer

MY DELIVERABLES: User research, UX Strategy, information architecture, software, hardware and visual design, user manuals/copywriting, agency management


2014-2015 Case Study

Living with Type 1 diabetes can be a challenging experience, both physically and emotionally. One of the main pain points for individuals with diabetes is the need to carry a multitude of supplies at all times.

The goal of Dexcom G5 was to

  • Increase sensor sales

  • Transition display functionality to iPhone, making the receiver optional

Challenges to overcome

  • Small team - myself, interaction designer intern, graphic designer

  • World's first Class III medical device compatible with an iPhone - no precedents & high FDA and Apple oversight


At the time, this was Dexcom's hardware: receiver, sensor applicator/sensor, and wearable


Collect business goals

To ensure a seamless user experience (UX), it is essential for me to optimize the alignment of business goals, user needs, and technology. In order to achieve this, I initiated a series of workshops involving different teams and functions to gain a comprehensive understanding of their G5 strategy. Through these workshops, I aimed to uncover their desired claims, improvements, and features that they wanted to emphasize. To structure the workshops effectively, I utilized my journey map and conducted a thorough competitive analysis of existing UX designs.

I documented the goals from the different functions in a way that helped me formulate user requirements docs. This doc evolved hourly over many months as I continued to optimize across the 3 domains: user goals, technology, and business goals.

The result of my workshop with Medical Affairs

My full Dexcom journey map, grouped by phases: I structured my workshops around the users' journey and this helped us keep the full experience in mind. Most importantly, we did not FORGET any part of the experience.

By collecting the business goals from the various functions, I began my user requirements document


Conduct user research

I co-developed research with my external agency and partner, Upstream Thinking. Through many participatory design rounds in many cities, we identified:

  1. pain point hierarchy - "when does diabetes get in your way?"

  2. information hierarchy - amount and type of data to display

The research informed us that G5 should deliver on safety and discretion.


Tech feasibility and prototype development

I took our learnings that safety and discretion were paramount and created design principles:

  • Allow for 1st read of general status: low, in-target, high

  • Allow for 2nd read of what is my specific glucose number

  • Allow Diane to assess her safety in 1 second glance when driving and the phone is on the passenger seat 3feet away, with our graphic designer, prototyped a visual design of the blood glucose number and direction

Create design language

I worked with our in-house graphic designer to create G5's design guidelines.

Build out screens

In 2-week development sprints organized around a single scenario or workflow, I aligned with stakeholders - software, medical affairs, technology most often - and iterated as necessary.

I created every screen in Adobe, switching between Illustrator and Photoshop as needed.

Example of the product of a 2-week sprint. I worked with technologists to understand how the technology worked, then put together flows that provocated on the user interaction as well as the copy that I also wrote.

The US app consists of over 300 screens that I created and mapped.

I requested more UX improvements: User Manual

Quantification of poor UX

Since we already had the design of many our user-facing components "opened up", I wanted to redesign our user manual (aka IFU aka Instructions for Use) to match the UX improvements we were making to the display.

The G4 manual was rarely used, let alone kept. The manual suffered from poor content organization, visual noise, and overall excessive size (200+ pages). The G5 manual had such an opportunity to be improved. With context-sensitive content and visual design improvements, the manual could be redesigned so that it is 1) kept, 2) engaging and 3) reference-able so that needed info was findable.

I put together a proposal that started off by stating the new vision, one that no one could argue against... "Patients reference the manual rather than calling Tech Support... This would save $30k/month."

I created this user manual concept to show the potential of what the new manual could be.

Approval was granted.

The G4 IFU was not helpful to current users, causing them to call Tech Support for help instead of referencing the $100+ user manual.

I created this “provocation” that was rooted in better, more meaningful content organization and inviting, healthy visuals

Dexcom G5 Mobile results

No regulatory submission delays or rejections

I created the research, authored design principles and guidelines, sought and received team and leadership approval, assessed and pushed technological feasibility of every user facing component within G5

All goals met:

  • World's 1st Class III medical device on an iPhone

  • Increased market share