Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who should I contact to discuss a possible project?

Please call either Michael Wiklund (President) or Jonathan Kendler (Design Director) at 978.371.2700 to discuss your consulting needs. Or email them at michael@wiklundrd.com or jonathan@wiklundrd.com.

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Q: What are "human factors"?

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society defines human factors as "characteristics of human beings that are applicable to the design of systems and devices of all kinds." Synonymous terms include "usability engineering" and "ergonomics." Our human factors specialists apply their knowledge of research and design methods to determine product requirements and design user interfaces (e.g., the product "touch points" such as controls, displays, software screens, labels, warnings, instructions, and body supports). Our specialists also work to verify products' usability, safety, effectiveness, and appeal.

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Q: Do you conduct usability tests outside of Boston, MA?

Yes - often. We frequently travel within the United States and internationally to conduct usability tests at client sites and to find representative user populations. In just the past couple of years, we have conducted usability tests in many European countries, both in English and in the participants' native language (e.g., German, French, Italian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, etc.)

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Q: Do you conduct small projects?

Yes. Some of our small projects involve a single day of consulting to accomplish tasks such as conducting an expert review of a preliminary user interface design or an existing product, or advising management on how to implement a human factors program at their company. Furthermore, we'll usually provide a few hours of consultation at no charge as a means to get to know a prospective client.

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Q: Can you handle large projects?

Yes. Recent large-scale projects, lasting over a year and engaging several staff members, began with user needs definition, proceeded to conceptual design and evaluation, and concluded with a final user interface design. As needed, we draw support from affiliating human factors specialists. As such, our capacity can expand to meet demand. But, we'll tell you right away if we lack the capacity to undertake a particularly large project due to existing commitments.

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Q: Do you conduct market research?

In a manner of speaking. We consider human factors research to be closely related to market research. When conducting user observations and interviews, we focus on users' interactive experience with products or services, but often collect secondary information related to branding issues and pricing. However, we stay away from conducting classic market research projects involving "gap analyses" and pricing exercises, for example. There are many consulting firms that are better qualified and prepared to conduct such studies.

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Q: What software do you use to build interactive prototypes?

We almost always use Adobe Flash. It enables us to work quickly, create realistic-looking screen and hardware simulations, as well as implement extensive functionality. Plus, we can export many of the graphic elements directly to the final software. However, we can also build prototypes using Macromedia Director, HTML, and PowerPoint.

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Q: Do you have a usability laboratory?

We do. Matching our design offices, it is a highly functional space devoted to usability testing. Its large size (30' x 20') enables us to simulate a wide range of use environments, such as a multi-station workplace or an intensive care setting. Our clients can observe testing via a video link to an adjacent room equipped with an LCD projector that provides a 12' wide "window" into the test room. They can also choose to observe remotely over the Web.

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Q: Is your expertise limited to medical technology?

No. Our portfolio includes many medical technologies because we have extensive experience designing for medical professionals, but we have worked on many different types of products. We've helped companies develop an ice cream making machine, weather monitoring systems, automotive tools, and a personal grooming product. We've also conducted human factors work on websites for the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, Los Angeles Dodgers' Fan Rewards program, and legislative tracking firms.

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Q: Where is your office located in relation to Boston?

We're a 45-50 minute drive from Boston's Logan Airport under normal traffic conditions. Concord is about 16 miles west of Boston, although the drive there is a bit longer. If you love your GPS system, our latitude and longitude are 42.46 (4227'), -71.40 (-7123'). If you love literature, you might recognize Concord as the home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott.

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Q: How can I order Michael Wiklund's latest book?

You can order Designing User Interfaces for Medical Products, co-authored by Michael Wiklund and Steve Wilcox through Amazon.com, or through CRC Press.

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