|Stephen B. Wilcox, Ph.D., FIDSA|
- Studying how devices are used under real-world circumstances (i.e., contextual inquiry).
- Applying technical information about users, both “physical human factors data”, like hand sizes and strength data, and “cognitive human factors data” like information about what is and isn’t easy to remember.
- Conducting iterative usability testing to identify use errors, so they can be eliminated.
- Don’t violate the user’s expectations.
Use images where it will help comprehension.
Allow for efficiency of use.
Longer is not necessarily better. In fact, it’s often much worse, particularly when there’s a lot that the reviewer doesn’t want or need.
Don’t force the user to interrupt the flow of a procedure.
It’s good to avoid constant references to other documents that have to be tracked down in order to follow the logic of a report. Such references are fine, and often necessary, but the body of the report should be sufficient for the reviewer to make decisions, so that the other documents serve only as appendices, to be consulted in special cases.
Avoid jargon unless you’re absolutely sure the user is familiar with it.
Don’t assume that the reviewer will understand acronyms just because you and your colleagues use them every day.
Create an intuitive information hierarchy.
The document should have a clear, intuitive structure that allows the reviewer to easily go from one section to another and to find a particular topic of interest.
One of the easiest ways to create confusion is to be inconsistent with a document’s structure, terms that are used, etc.
Make sure the form mirrors the content.
Any change in form (e.g., in typefaces, colors, spacing, indentation) should reflect a change in content.
Use real-world metaphors to take advantage of previous knowledge.
This suggestion particularly applies when a new device is very different from what came before.
Sorry, I got a little political, didn’t I? I promise it won’t happen again.
Stephen B. Wilcox, is a principal and the founder of Design Science (Philadelphia), a 25-person firm that specializes in optimizing the human interface of products—particularly medical devices. Wilcox is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America’s (IDSA) Academy of Fellows. He has served as a vice president and member of the IDSA Board of Directors, and for several years was chair of the IDSA Human Factors Professional Interest Section. He also serves on the human engineering committee of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), which has produced the HE 74 and HE 75 Human Factors standards for medical devices.