User Interface Design and Evaluation

Good user interface design isn’t flashy. It doesn’t need to push the envelope of engineering complexity. A good design is simple, transparent, and in hindsight, obvious.

We have been designing effective, usable interfaces for medical software and devices since our inception in 2001. We also conduct usability evaluations as well, both Usability Bench Tests™ and traditional Formative Usability Tests that engage prospective users. We offer several approaches to addressing your user interface design and evaluation needs.

Solves These Problems

  • How do we make improvements to our existing UI given limited time and resources?
  • This is a new entry in the market, targeted at home-based users. It needs to be exceedingly simple and safe to operate.
  • We need to revamp our product from the ground up. We need fresh insights and innovation. How do we get there?
  • We have serious usability problems. These need to be solved in our next release or we will continue to lose market share.

Types of UI Design and Evaluation Services

UI Facelift. User interface improvements without major surgery. UI Facelifts help identify and collect “low-hanging fruit” – smaller, schedule-friendly changes that collectively, make a noticeable improvement to an existing software UI. We start with your database of usability defects and enhancement requests, and conduct a Usability Bench Test™ to identify and prioritize design issues. Working with your engineers, we generate design change recommendations geared to having the most noticeable impact given your schedule and resource constraints. When needed, our graphic artist will produce new splash screens, icons, and bitmaps to create a fresh, polished, and aesthetically appealing look.

Conceptual Blueprint. We’ll create a conceptual blueprint – a high level design for the user interface of your new product or point release. A conceptual blueprint provides a user interface structure that solves the key issues of how to organize and present functionality, navigate effectively, and perform key tasks safely and efficiently. We’ll also create an aesthetically compelling yet effective visual treatment for the new UI – a contemporary, appealing, and ergonomically sound look for the UI that helps create a positive brand image.

Usability Bench Test™.
Our Usability Bench Test™ combines elements of several proven human factors techniques including task analysis and heuristic review. Unlike formative usability testing which engage actual users, the Bench Test is an analytical review, performed by one or more human factors experts. Potential usability problems are identified and prioritized by their impact and likelihood of occurrence. Recommendations for design changes aimed at addressing the problems are provided, often in the form of visual design mockups. You can learn more here.

Formative Usability Testing. The best way to learn how to improve a design is by watching people use it. Formative Usability Tests engage a small number of prospective users (typically six to eight) in “testing” a device design. Formative usability testing “informs” the design by identifying both design strengths and areas needing improvement. Testing can be conducted at almost any point in your design process including at the early conceptual stage of design. We’ve conducted effective usability tests using paper mockups, foam models, simple Flash™ and Sketchflow™ prototypes, and higher fidelity software and presentational prototypes. The choice depends upon the design questions needing answered and the state of your product’s development.

Our Approach

Our designers don’t eat moon dust. They’re not psychically aligned with the cosmic forces of the universe. They succeed by helping you collect, analyze, and interpret customer and user data, by applying well understood but seldom practiced design principles, and by continually enhancing design proposals based on user feedback.

Conceptual Blueprint projects have four phases: Research, Discovery, Refinement, and Transition. Research lays the groundwork by profiling your users, their environment, and their clinical tasks. Discovery is about design exploration: generating varied design concepts and bringing them to life through storyboards and simple, interactive prototypes. Refinement includes design iterations with refinements based on Formative Usability Testing feedback. Transition is about documenting, packaging, and delivering the design to your development team.

Deliverables

Several deliverables can be provided, depending upon your needs, from User Personas and Tasks Models to written User Interface Design Specifications and Formative Usability Test Reports.