My experience developing a new PJ app for RPS members

Corrinne Burns, product and delivery manager, shares her experience of preparing the new PJ app for launch.
Illustration showing the new PJ app being held at the centre on an iphone, surrounded by post-it notes that read,

PJ app users will have noticed a change as of late: we’ve launched a new, next-generation app, which we hope will continue to make the PJ’s content even more accessible.

We’ve had an app since 2013, with a few iterations in that time as tech develops. This time, we’re offering a more streamlined, secure login for members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS); content that updates in real time with the PJ website; and easy navigation to popular features, such as our monthly edition.

And it’s more flexible; for example, if members tell us that they’d like a quicker way to access certain types of content, we can make changes to the app’s navigation as we go.

We’ve been working on this new app for more than a year, and it’s been a steep learning curve for me. I’ve been with The PJ for seven years, but I’ve spent most of that time as a journalist on the news desk. When I was offered the opportunity to work with the PJ’s product team to help get the app over the final stretch and out there into the app stores, I couldn’t say no.

I was very fortunate in that much of the hard work had already been done by the time I came in. The app had already been designed and built, we just needed to run through our final tests to see how well it would meet the needs of RPS members and subscribers, before going out to launch.

Working with MobiLoud, the app developers that we contracted to build the app, and Box UK, our external tech support team, we corralled volunteers among the PJ and RPS staff. We asked them to use the app for a few days, logging anything that might disrupt the seamless experience we wanted to deliver.

We’ve been working on this new app for more than a year, and it’s been a steep learning curve for me

But, of course, the app isn’t for us, it’s for our members. So we needed to hear from them.

The app’s first foray into real-world use was at the RPS Annual Conference in November 2023. If you were there, you may have seen me in the main atrium in between sessions, iPad in hand, asking delegates if they could kindly spare ten minutes to use the app and then give us their thoughts in a short survey. We were happy to find that 95% of people who helped us at the conference rated the new app as “excellent” or “good” for ease of use, and the same proportion of testers also said it was “excellent” or “good” for appearance.

Next, we set up some user feedback sessions over Zoom, hosted by Kathryn, an independent UX consultant. Several RPS members were generous enough to set aside their lunch break to have a look at the app and tell us what they thought.

Finally, we have also had support from the Retired Pharmacists’ Group, who shared a link to the app in their regular newsletter and asked members to provide feedback on their experiences of using the app.

While the new app was well received, we also got some good suggestions on how the app could be improved. Some of these, such as adding RPS branding, have already been done, and others, such as adding a direct link to our obituaries page, will be kept in mind for future iterations.

We will continue to work on improvements to the app, including adding a comment feature, to ensure members get the best possible experience from using the app.

We know how important CPD is to members, and we will be looking at how to integrate our current modules and questions into the app, while ensuring your progress and history is seamlessly linked and updated with The PJ website.

At the time of writing, the app has had more than 2,000 users. We hope to keep growing this number. But, in the end, it’s your app: so we want to hear from you. If you use it already, what do you think? Is there anything you can suggest that would make it better for you? All your suggestions will be considered for future development, so please do share your thoughts with us. You can message us directly, from within the app: just go to the ‘Settings’ page and tap ‘Send feedback on the app’. All messages sent there come straight to our team and we always respond within one working day.

Or, if you don’t use the app at the moment, is there anything that would make you give it a go?

If you don’t have the app yet and you want to take a look, you can download it for iOS devices here, and for Android here. There’s also a ‘How to use the PJ app‘ guide on the PJ website, and a set of FAQs.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.307767

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