A behind-the-scenes interview with SciNote Product Manager Alenka Malovrh
In today’s fast-paced biotech industry, optimizing workflows and reducing duplication of effort is paramount for scientists and researchers. We sat down with Alenka Malovrh, Product Manager at SciNote, to explore the development of the newly launched SciNote electronic lab note (ELN) mobile app, and to see how this is a game-changer for biotech professionals seeking enhanced productivity on the go.
Meeting the needs of biotech professionals
When we asked Alenka about the aim of developing the SciNote ELN mobile app, she shared some first-hand observations from the team.
“Users often find themselves writing things down twice—first in their lab notebook, and then transferring the results into the SciNote web application. We wanted to address this inefficiency and empower our users to spend less time on redundant tasks.”
Alenka explained how the prevalence of web-based applications, supplemented by their mobile counterparts, influenced the development of the SciNote ELN mobile app. “Many applications now offer mobile-based apps, even if they don’t encompass all the features of the web app. With our mobile app, we wanted to provide users with uninterrupted access to their electronic lab notebook, whether they are in the lab or out in the field,” she emphasized.
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Seamless integration of mobile technology
The SciNote ELN mobile app leverages the technical capabilities of mobile phones and tablets to enhance functionality.
Alenka highlighted, “Mobile devices can capture photos, record audio and video clips, and improve the searchability of items within SciNote. With features like sensors, touch screens, and microphones, these devices are becoming increasingly capable of recording inputs.”
The team is now collecting feedback from users (more on this later), and exploring additional features – such barcode scanning, doodles/sketches, and voice-to-text converter – to make your mobile device provide added values in the lab.
User-centric development process
Alenka shed light on the development process behind the SciNote ELN mobile app. The team embarked on a brainstorming phase to identify the essential features for the minimum viable product (MVP) that would bring value and utility to customers.
“Leveraging feedback from users and building upon their knowledge of the legacy progressive web application (PWA), we ensure that we have a solid foundation for the new ELN mobile app’s development.”
Addressing the challenges of limited screen space on mobile devices, Alenka explained how they meticulously planned the hierarchy of data presentation. Unlike the spacious desktop version, the ELN mobile app required careful consideration of the most important information to display upfront, while making judicious use of subsequent screens and tabs.
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User feedback played a crucial role in shaping the mobile app’s design and functionality. Alenka emphasized, “We listened to user feedback right from the initial design phase, which was significantly different from the legacy app. This feedback, combined with insights from the SciNote web app and user feedback, guided our decisions to move forward.”
Navigating data hierarchy and user experience
Designing an intuitive data hierarchy for the mobile app posed a significant challenge. Alenka explained, “We had to determine the importance of different types of data and decide how to structure the app. Unlike the web version, where projects and data are displayed on a large monitor, we had to make thoughtful decisions regarding task prioritization and whether users should start from a project or directly access their tasks.”
To ensure a user-centric approach, Alenka highlighted the importance of user feedback regarding the different structure of the mobile app compared to the web version. The team aimed to strike a balance between ease of use and meeting the specific needs of biotech professionals who primarily work on assigned tasks within the mobile app.
Simplified access and account management
Signing in to the SciNote ELN mobile app offers flexibility through QR code instead of users’ name/password authentication. Alenka shared, “For users who utilize single sign-on (SSO) into SciNote, this system simplifies their login process, eliminating the need to remember passwords or deal with two-factor authentication. However, we are aware of shared devices in some labs, so we are planning to incorporate username/password login in the next phase of app development.”
Looking ahead: empowering biotech workflows
In the next phase of development, SciNote aims to unlock even more functionality within the mobile app. This includes enabling rich text fields, allowing users to edit notes and protocol descriptions, creating new steps and step content blocks, and incorporating functional inventories with QR code scanning for streamlined stock management and consumption tracking.
“This is where we could use all SciNote users’ help in letting us know how we can prioritize feature development for the app so that it can be an even more powerful tool for them,” said Alenka. “There are several ways for users to provide feedback and suggestions, such as emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or reaching out to your Customer Success Manager. We are also organizing focus groups to help us further understand people’s experiences .”
With the SciNote ELN mobile app, biotech professionals can optimize their workflows, save time on data entry, and access their electronic lab notebook seamlessly, whether they are in the lab or working remotely. Stay tuned for more exciting developments from SciNote as they continue to empower the biotech industry with cutting-edge solutions.
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