When developing new technologies (or using existing technologies in new ways), it is important to keep the user experience in mind and to perform usability testing.
What is user experience? User experience (or UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. Research in this area falls under human–computer interaction (commonly referred to as HCI), which analyzes the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between people (users) and computers. Developing the user experience is a highly iterative and time-intensive process and requires great attention to usability.
What is usability? Usability means making products and systems easier to use, and matching them more closely to user needs and requirements. Usability has three major components:
- Effectiveness – can users complete tasks, achieve goals with the product, i.e. do what they want to do?
- Efficiency – how much effort do users require to do this? (Often measured in time)
- Satisfaction – what do users think about the products ease of use?
Usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. Typically, during a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes. The goal is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative data and determine the participant’s satisfaction with the product. (You can find information on the international standards for usability here.)
How can NUCare help? The Technology & Analysis Core exists to help streamline and accelerate these processes to help launch your pilot or new device in the most effective and efficient way possible. To better understand the overall process, key steps of this development are listed below. Pilot PIs may be asked to prepare some of these components.
- Analyze the opportunity
- Common activities: Stakeholder analysis, Competitor analysis. Surveys. Focus groups. Needs assessment.
- Build the context of use
- Common activities: contextual inquiry, user interviews, task analysis, user diaries, critical incident analysis.
- Create the user experience
- Setting usability metrics, card sorting, prototyping, wireframing, usability testing and expert reviews
- Track real world usage and continuously improve the product
- Site visits, remote evaluation, usage logs, analysis of support calls
The above list is adapted from “Communicating User Experience Design.” Follow the link for the full article and infographic.
Tools, Literature, and Other Resources
- Best practices for remote user experience information gathering
- User Focus Resources
- Introduction to usability testing. This YouTube video reviews the basics of usability testing. Length: 35 minutes.
- Usability.gov This website goes beyond the basics of usability testing, providing concrete guidance, methods, templates, and content strategy in addition to many other resources. Developed by HHS.gov.
- Usability.gov How to & Tools (includes Templates for usability consent forms)
- Sensor application basics. Includes sections on contact/non-contact technologies, discrete v. analog detection, sensor characteristics/specifications, and more. Developed by Rockwell Automation.