Clients frequently ask us to assess the human factors suitability of an existing product or prototype. We can take one of several assessment approaches, depending on the nature of the product and our client's schedule and budget.

Usability Testing

Usability testing enables a full evaluation of a product's interactive characteristics. Representative end-users - often 6 to 12 individuals- perform a cross section of tasks that are most likely to highlight product strengths and shortcomings.

We measure product performance by objective means, such as determining task time, task completion rates, and errors. We also measure it in subjective ways, such as asking test participants to rate the product according to various criteria, such as intuitiveness and visual appeal. There is also the option of scoring the product (e.g., on a 1 to 100 scale) according to established usability metrics.

Typically, we deliver a usability test report including a compilation of test data and video segments.

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Heuristic Analysis

The heuristic analysis method of evaluation calls for several human factors specialists to conduct independent design reviews based on their personal knowledge and experience. These reviews seek to identify design shortcomings and determine whether resolving the shortcoming should be a low or high priority.

Subsequently, the specialists share their findings and draw a consensus on which problems are most pressing.

We normally deliver a summary report or slide presentation.

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Design Audit

A design audit determines if a product's user interface adheres or departs from established design practices, as described in multiple standards.

We usually produce a report that lists human factors deficiencies and recommended solutions in order of priority.

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Design Critique

A critique provides quick feedback on a product's human factors strengths and opportunities for improvement. In a meeting with our client, we share our impressions of the given product based on our knowledge of human factors design principles and design experience. We may also produce a report documenting the critique results.

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Forensic Analysis

We can perform a wide range of human factors analyses to support accident investigations. For example, we can:

  • Conduct in-depth task analyses to determine the human factors contributing to an adverse event.
  • Assess the adequacy of instructions and warnings associated with identified hazards.
  • Perform an anthropometric analysis of people in a specified environment or interacting with a particular object.

Staff have past experience analyzing the safety of children's furniture and playthings, kitchen appliances, step ladders, swimming pool warnings, industrial equipment, medication labels, and medical devices.

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See a sample product review

See the March 2005 issue of ID magazine for a sample product review. More information >