Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Design Research Part 1: Creating Better User Interfaces

Early and extensive user feedback (Part 2 next article.) ...

"As the potential of the technology that goes into medical products grows, so does the need for product design features that make them accessible to users. The drop in cost of both processing power and high-resolution color screens, for example, means they are finding their way into many areas of healthcare. At the same time, the typical medical device user in the developed world is routinely exposed to sophisticated consumer user interfaces (UIs). Products like TiVo, iPods, cell phones, Apple computers, and Microsoft Windows have raised the bar in terms of consumer expectations. Consumers now have an idea of how easy it can be to interact with a piece of complex technology (see Figure 1).

The consumer devices mentioned here have been designed for a broad user base—from ages 8 to 80 is a common goal. But medical products are usually designed with a specific group or groups of users in mind. How can product development teams design UIs that really resonate with their particular customers? A truly great UI allows a user to more effectively exploit all the sophisticated features the design team slaved over to give the product a competitive advantage. An intuitive UI matches a user’s mental model of what they need to do to operate the device with how the device actually works.

Manufacturers can use design research to create better UIs. This article addresses how to conduct the early research and create concept UIs. The second part will explain the process of taking these concepts back out to users. It will also address how development teams can lay the foundation to meet FDA requirements for usability and good human factors design and the validation process.

What is Design Research?

Design research is a kind of market research that leads to the specification of the product design, and it is performed by a design team. Rather than passive data collection, design research entails an iterative process of criticism and refinement. An initial discovery period searches for design issues out in the field. Next, potential solutions are brainstormed, and finally the design team returns to the field.

It is important that the design team partners with users. More-traditional forms of market research, such as large-scale quantitative methods, may help a manufacturer choose areas that are ripe for new product development. But design research will help OEMs create a market-winning UI."    (Continued via MDDI)    [Usability Resources]

More User Feedback With More Complexity - Usability, User Interface Design

More User Feedback With More Complexity

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