Cochlear is an Australian company that provides innovative implant solutions to hearing loss. Since 1981, the company has given around 250,000 worldwide recipients the ability to hear.

Cochlear is expanding its market in developing countries such as India, China, and Eastern Europe with a new product line. They asked the team at Automatic Studio to help them design a better User Support Materials (User Guide, Getting Started Guide) package to accompany the new product.


In our immersive research, we identified the main challenges for this particular market:

  • The cost of surgery, the Cochlear implant and sound processor is extremely expensive for this market. In most cases, due to the huge amount of investment and the stressful journey, people expect the product to work like magic.
  • Cochlear recipients are likely to be in noisy and dusty environment, which means correct usage and maintenance for the devices are vital.
  • Most recipients live far away from health care centres and don’t have regular access to hearing clinics. If something goes wrong with the device, the process of sending it off for repair is long and fraught with problems, and it means the recipient will not be hearing during this time.
  • While this means some simple errors can be avoided with a good user guide, people tend to treat the user support materials document as highly important medical documents and put them away in locked safe.
  • Also, some primary carers may be illiterate or unable to interpret a complicated technical document.



From what we gathered from the discovery phase, we wanted to design a product that, in addition to being easy to use, would be readily consulted instead of locked away. We also found in our research that one of the common features of houses in this kind of socio-economic group is the wall calendar. In fact, it is one of the popular marketing tools for local businesses, who give them away as promotional items, using them to advertise their products. After experimenting with a few different prototypes, we went with the wall calendar design.

For the user guide, we aimed for the design to be easily understood and followed, even without the instructional text. To replace the black and white photos from previous user guides, we opted for simple line drawings with highlights drawing attention to the particular parts.



The getting started guide/quick reference guide exists in the form of a wall calendar:

  • Half of the the guide is reserved for everyday instructions, from morning till night
  • The other half functions as a calendar with different stickers as reminders such as change microphone covers, visit the clinic etc.
  • We also included a map of listening milestones to help set realistic expectations for recipients and carers.
  • Hanging on the wall, the calendar becomes part of everyday life for recipients and people around them.

The user guide is a simple design with step-by-step guidance for each action. It includes visual cues like highlighted parts, arrows to indicate direction and magnified views for detail. It is easy to follow and can be understood without text.

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As the UX researcher and illustrator for this project, I was responsible for:

  • Conducting research on the target market and competitor analysis.
  • Building persona and mapping out the user journey to explore touch points.
  • Sketching and making prototypes for different design concepts.
  • Creating more than a hundred illustrations for the user guides.  
  • Working closely with the client and the team to refine the deliverables.


  • Matt Morphett: Design strategist
  • Shane Morris: Design principal
  • Jack Hsu: Senior visual designer
  • Nhung Nguyen: UX researcher, Illustrator