Our services can be tailored to your needs:
- We can address a broad range of product and process design challenges.
- They can be of any duration.
- They will be applied throughout the development cycle.
- We can deliver specifications, presentations, prototypes, and videos – whatever is appropriate.
- They can be provided on an hourly or fixed fee basis
A portfolio of methodologies can be deployed depending on purpose of the research and the stage of product development it will apply to. We can utilize quantitative or qualitative measures that are either performance based or preference based. An important first step is identifying the target participants for the research. In some cases there are multiple target user groups for a product such as casual and dedicated type of users or, for medical products, patients and caregivers. When the purchase decision is not made by the user, it can make sense to include the decision-maker in the study. Another important step is to understand all the user touchpoints that occur throughout a person’s interaction with a product or system. Various types of field research techniques are used for discovering the touchpoints and understanding user behavior associated with them.
Our approach to this fuzzy front end activity is to generate alternative prototype concepts and to use a structured process for getting qualitative and quantitative feedback about them from target users. The feedback methods are predicated on knowing that relative judgements gotten by comparing stimuli are more reliable than absolute judgements made about a single stimulus. The outcome of this approach can identify which alternative concept is the most preferred, what attributes make it preferred, and what additional attributes would make it even more desirable.
Usability Associates understands usability principles and have the experience to apply them appropriately to design decisions affecting interactions with hardware and software during product development. From years of working alongside Industrial Designers, Software Developers, Reliability Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, and other disciplines, we understand there can be tradeoffs between usability and other design factors and sometime the other factors are more important to the utility of the product. So our perspective embraces design decisions that are best overall for the product. However, we do not subscribe to the philosophy that poor usability design can be mitigated by putting usage instructions in the user manual.
With its knowledge of the resources it takes to conduct a usability study and its access to those resources, Usability Associates is well positioned to be a one-stop shop for companies wanting to offload from its people all the effort it takes to organize and support a study. For example, we have managed multi-part usability testing studies in US and European cities by engaging testing facilities, bilingual moderators, interpreters, translators, and recruiters. We handled all financial transactions with those resources so the client did not have to add any additional vendors to its purchasing system.
Using some of the user research methods and/or usability principles, Usability Associates personnel have performed expert assessments of existing products for several reasons. For example, a major company decided not to OEM a candidate product after an expert usability assessment showed the user interface was not intuitive. Other examples include competitive product assessments and usability benchmarking.
Usability Associates has conducted literature research for many of its projects, in the form of benchmarking. It has also conducted literature research to determine the current state of specific technologies as well as technology trends. Literature research typically involves structured topical research through the internet, judiciously analyzing the findings, and ultimately compiling a report of our analysis. Often, the research will also include input from subject matter experts that are networked with Usability Associates has
The purpose of workshops and tutorials is to give company personnel actionable information they can use to make decisions about product usability design that will result in favorable customer reactions to the product. The content and duration are tailored to company needs. Examples of topics include:
- Total User Experience Framework
- Usability Design Principles
- User Research Methods
- Embedding Usability in the Product Development Process
- When is usability good enough – tradeoffs with other design needs, budget, time, etc
- To do a study or not to do a study
- Usability Innovation Methods
As part of its full-service offerings, Usability Associates helps clients recruit qualified individuals for Human Factors and User Experience related positions. Over his many years working in these fields and being active in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Stan Caplan has access to an extensive network of professionals involved with research and design for consumer, business and medical products.
Recruiting support is conducted in a way that benefits both companies and candidates.
- only receives information about qualified candidates and is thus spared the extensive time required to acquire applications and to determine if they come from qualified candidates
- is represented by a professional whose breadth and depth of knowledge about Human Factors, User Experience and related fields allows him to “speak the language” of applicants and candidates
- has possibilities of getting both active and passive candidates
- avoids the generic application that goes through mysterious channels and hopefully gets to the right company person. Usability Associates works directly with the hiring manager.
- is screened by a Human Factors professional who can understand the breadth and depth of their interests and experience
- can be assured his/her application and interview with Usability Associates are kept confidential
Applied Mechanical Technologies
Ascensia Diabetes Care
Eastman Kodak (Corporate Design & Usability)
Eastman Kodak (kodak.com)
Pitney Bowes, Inc.
University of Rochester Medical Center