I had my doubts about writing an article on period tracker apps, also known as menstrual cycle apps. There are things that, as a male user, I don’t understand, and no research can help me out in that sense.
Nonetheless, particularities aside, period tracking apps are developed similarly to any other app: they are made up of code, they consider design elements like the UI and UX, require QA and DevOps best practices, and most importantly, they put the user at its center.
I thought it would be interesting to analyze what makes a period tracker app stand out, independently of whether I am a user or not. Although my analysis may be biased as a male user, I think there are some objective elements as to what makes a menstrual app great. As a result, in this post, I discuss what are some of the characteristics of a successful development process for period tracker apps.
Period Tracker Apps
A period tracker app is basically a MedTech app for tracking menstrual cycles. Female users can make use of this revolutionary way to track their periods and monitor health conditions, including potential abnormalities, and even pregnancy-related matters.
Women can input their menstrual cycle data and other important health variables into these apps, as they are designed to process a wide range of information. These inputs go from broad aspects, such as the duration of a period and the user’s weight, to very specific details like the user’s mood, nutrition, and quality and quantity of sleep.
As the use of these apps increases and users introduce more of their personal information, outputs improve, thus raising the quality of forecasts and diagnoses. That is why there is a big incentive for users to input the majority of their biometric information. The more data is collected, the better the forecasts.
As for many other MedTech apps, menstrual cycle apps are a great way to stay informed of health-related matters and even address certain issues. However, these apps are in no way a proper substitute for professional medical services. Hopefully, in the future, this technology might enable such a possibility, granting more and better healthcare access to women all over the world.
Menstrual App Forecasting
By sharing their period details with the app, women can obtain important information about the starting day of their period, whether it will be a painful one or not, and many other important variables. The output of period apps can present a high level of certainty depending on how much information the app has available. In other words, data is key. The more information available to the app, the more precise forecasts will be. Women that use these types of apps can be sure that they will get their periods on a given day, how it will affect them, and how long it will last, all based on statistical information.
How Accurate Can Period Tracker Apps Be? (ovulation)
Period tracking apps can be very accurate in their predictions, but, they can also get it wrong depending on the user. Some women present more irregular cycles, thus predictions become hard. Ultimately, factors like the regularity with which data is registered and the regularity of a cycle tend to determine accuracy. Overall, period tracking apps are a great way to keep track of menstrual cycles.
Healthcare Through Period Tracking
Many factors of female health can be analyzed through the lens of the menstrual cycle. By monitoring it, medical professionals and female patients can address specific health issues. Although this is not a replacement for conventional medical assessment, it can definitely help understand better female health.
One last important feature that many period trackers have is a ‘pregnancy monitoring’ mode. At the moment of onboarding users, many period apps ask whether they are pregnant, want to get pregnant, or if they want to avoid getting pregnant. Thus, they can activate the pregnant mode, which monitors specific variables related to pregnancy. This information is very useful for users and health professionals alike. Apps like Flo offer a complete spectrum of features including this one.
Period Tracker App Development
As I said initially, menstrual cycle apps are built on the same foundations as any other app. These are some of the development aspects that differentiate a great menstrual app from a regular one.
- Powerful period tracker app features that meet users’ real needs. To do this, it is important that period tracker development teams understand who their users are, what they need from the app, and most importantly, test use cases to actually validate or reject them.
- Easy to use and intuitive User Interface (UI). There is a lot going on in a menstrual app. Users need to understand how everything works and how to enter the relevant information into the app. Interaction with the interface is key.
- Smooth User Experience (UX). The user journey throughout the entire process of using the app can be bothersome if not designed correctly. Users need to feel engaged while avoiding feeling overwhelmed. The best way to guarantee a powerful UX is, like in the case of UI, through user testing.
- Affective computing becomes relevant to ensure engagement. A period tracker app should not be a pain. To avoid such a situation, the best alternative is to focus on user feelings. How are they feeling, what might they need from the app, and how to use it are just some of the questions to consider when designing an affective experience.
- A robust quality assurance process helps address bugs in a timely manner. A prevention first approach helps reduce costs and avoids reprocessing later on when the app is already in the market.
Keep the Culture in Mind
In recent years many menstrual apps have been developed with great success. In order to truly stand out from the crowd, it is necessary to focus on niches and deliver what they need. A great way to segment your menstrual target audience is to focus on cultural aspects.
A common mistake with apps, in general, is to assume that all users are the same. Cultural factors matter, and that’s something that development and design teams need to keep in mind. In many cultures, talking about periods is seen as inappropriate, and in some cases, even taboo.
This also applies to menstrual apps and how they work. Assuming that all women are the same is a mistake, so it is necessary to validate and test what works and what doesn’t, always keeping cultural factors in mind. Ideally, development teams should include women who can understand the intricacies of designing a female exclusive app.
Period Tracker Data Privacy
Period apps collect a considerable amount of health information from users. Guaranteeing that the information is kept safe is absolutely necessary. This way, users can rest assured that their privacy is ensured. The development of a menstrual app should consider HIPAA regulations.
The Future of Period Tracker Apps
Menstrual apps are just one of many examples of how technology can help take care of our health. These apps are a potential game-changer for many women, not only because of their capability to monitor cycles but also because they can help educate many women about their bodies.
In the near future, we can easily expect these apps to integrate more EdTech elements, thus impacting not only health but also the education of millions of women, something that many societies around the world are still struggling with.
At Koombea, we love building products that can have a positive impact on users’ lives. We firmly believe that healthcare apps like period trackers are one of the many ways to do so. If you have an idea for an impactful healthcare product, contact us for a free consultation on medical app development. We’d love to hear from you and bring your idea to life.