We’d love to talk you through the cool things we’ve done over the last 20 years! Here is a sample of a few ways we’ve applied UX and human factors research and design methods.
65% of our work is in medical device and digital health
Our areas of expertise
A pharmaceutical company sought to understand how people with diabetes use technology to manage their disease.
The company required exploratory research to gather insights about the behaviors of people with diabetes and how they use connected devices and applications to monitor, manage, and treat their disease.
We conducted a mixed-method study involving a series of remote, individual interviews and a longitudinal online diary study with participants to gather detailed qualitative insights into patients’ treatment behaviors, preferences, use environments, and how patients use connected devices and applications in their daily disease management.
We provided the company with a clearer understanding of patient behaviors, needs, preferences, and of the ecosystem of connected devices they use for diabetes management. We provided insights into use environments, how patients make treatment decisions, and how patients interact with their connected devices. We also identified pain points and areas for opportunity in the current device ecosystem.
A manufacturer of surgical and delivery devices needed to better understand use cases around the deployment of their crash cart products in typical clinical environments.
The manufacturer wanted to develop new packaging and labeling that would better support clinical teams from a storage and retrieval perspective, as well as a safe and effective use perspective.
We conducted interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) from the manufacturer’s organization, as well as contextual inquiries in the field with clinical teams to understand known opportunities for improvement and current challenges.
We used these insights to create a number of simulated-use scenarios and conducted lab-based research to refine and prioritize design opportunities.
We provided the manufacturer with redesigned packaging and labeling for several products based on what we learned from the clinical workflows associated with crash cart deployments. Many of the design changes significantly mitigated use-related risks.
Stimuli:Packaging and labeling
A pharmaceutical company needed to evaluate the effectiveness of their instructions for use for a new product.
A pharmaceutical company needed to evaluate the instructions for use of a new product that healthcare providers would administer to their patients. We were asked to assess if HCPs would be able to effectively use the instructional materials as intended and ensure that the instructional materials adhered to the best practices in user-centered design.
Before one-on-one interviews with potential users, our team conducted a heuristic evaluation of the instructions for use. We then completed a simulated-environment usability study to collect data that guided revisions and updates to the instructional materials. We then conducted a post-iterative study where we collected further feedback on the product and redesigned instructional materials.
The changes made to the IFU following the pre-iterative portion of our study successfully alleviated user confusion and improved overall usability of the instructions.
Our client was upgrading a sales and service application for customer service representatives.
The goal of this study was to assess the impact of rolling out a new sales and service application to thousands of desktops, handling millions of calls.
Our team conducted a series of offline (task-based) and online (live) studies with call center reps. Our client then evaluated the expected impact pre- and post-launch of the application. We collected time, motion, error data, and qualitative input.
We delivered a clear picture for our client as to what the impact of the new application would be (if implemented as is) for contact times, errors, and learnability (i.e., time to asymptotic performance) across a variety of contact types. Based on the qualitative feedback we collected, we provided guidance as to what elements to improve to reduce the impact of the change.
Stimuli:Call center, Mobile app
A manufacturer of air conditioning (AC) units sought to compare its connected in-window AC unit with comparable competitive products on the market.
We were asked to provide an expert evaluation of the manufacturer’s in-window AC unit against comparable competitive units as well as two smart thermostat systems.
We spoke with current users of in-window AC units during in-lab research; testing focused on setup of the connected system and use of application features.
Our insights helped the manufacturer determine the features that should be developed and terminology to use. We also made design recommendations to improve usability of the application.
A major utilities and telco provider sought to improve their customer experience and operational efficiency.
We were asked to evaluate various aspects of our client’s call center and service technician operations to identify opportunities for system redesign.
Our team conducted contextual inquiries in the field with service technicians as they processed requests for installs, service, and repairs to identify opportunities to enhance efficiency and effectiveness at point of service. We also observed customer service representatives (CSRs) in the call center with an eye towards improvement at the service request level and led collaborative design sessions with the CSRs to identify workarounds that could be translated into system improvements.
We provided interface improvements on the CSR and service technician side that addressed both CSR’s desire for a more efficient order entry process, as well as service technician’s desire for accurate and timely access to customer information.
A global technology company needed guidelines for voice-controlled multi-platform game development.
A global technology company sought to explore the necessary considerations for developing voice-controlled multi-platform games – a space where its development was still at the infancy stage.
We were tasked to determine opportunities based on existing need and explore how to optimize voice-enabled technology into gameplay for various platforms and interactions.
Pain point identification and innovation involved a mixed-method approach. We conducted remote in-depth interviews with users across platforms. And then invited participants back to engage in co-creation sessions in triad sessions.
Co-creating concepts that do not yet exist is challenging. Our approach captured insights from users who had time to reflect, which leveraged the benefits of a mixed-method approach.
We uncovered several trends, key among them being a strong desire to design social interaction and the need for customization of controls and interaction in voice-controlled gameplay.
Our research provided an evidence-based roadmap for expanding and developing games for voice-controlled platforms.
Method/Process:Formative, Remote testing
Stimuli:Gaming, Smart home, Voice-controlled technology
A major telecommunications company sought to understand mobile phone accessibility and usability issues unique to visually impaired users.
A major telecommunications company sought to explore usability issues and challenges unique to visually impaired and blind mobile phone users.
Team members were tasked with investigating existing and prototype hands-free and eyes-free mobile phone features to uncover insights that would guide the design and development of future enhancements.
100 participants with varying degrees of vision impairment were recruited for this two-phase study.
During contextual interviews, focus groups, and usability testing, participants completed phone tasks using 3 different phones and tested a voice-enabled prototype. Participants were given an opportunity to discuss accessibility issues related to current technology.
The research revealed a clear list of features desired by visually impaired users. Participants agreed that they preferred to use the same devices as sighted users as opposed to specialized accessibility devices.
Voice-enabled task flows were found to be intuitive by most participants and research revealed targeted opportunities for feature additions and future development.
Method/Process:Accessibility, Exploratory, In-lab testing
A travel company designed a new tool that allowed users to manage and book all trip details using one interface.
The company wanted to optimize the usability of the website and mobile site to ensure it was easy for users to book travel. The tool promised to consolidate travel logistics.
The company was simultaneously conducting global testing and they were looking for a US testing partner.
We conducted a remote mobile usability study to evaluate the trip planning process. The remote lab we designed enabled us to watch participants use their own devices and screen capture each interaction.
We identified pain points, sources of confusion, inaccuracies, and receptivity to the tool. We also provided design recommendations to improve terminology and content. Ultimately, with some optimization, users found the tool valuable.
Stimuli:Mobile app, Website
A developer of digital health self-assessment tools sought usability testing for an innovative smartphone app designed to help healthcare professionals and patients better understand MS.
We were tasked with evaluating the interface design of an innovative self-assessment app for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The app collects quantifiable data through a series of tasks performed by patients, which can be used to help healthcare professionals and patients better understand the progression of the disease. We were asked to uncover design inconsistencies and usability problems within the user interface and content areas.
For the US portion of this international study, we recruited MS patients for 60 minute in-person sessions. Participants were asked to complete a series of tasks with guidance from the application. After their attempts, participants were asked to evaluate the ease of understanding the application’s instructions and user interface.
Overall feedback from participants was positive with many indicating they would recommend the app to others. Our research uncovered inconsistencies in some task instructions and identified key areas where simple changes to photos or wording could reduce confusion and improve user experience and accuracy in completing tasks.
A consumer products manufacturer sought to assess the usability of a touch-screen appliance that allowed connectivity with a mobile device.
We were tasked with assessing the usability of a touch screen prototype designed to connect with the user’s mobile device.
We observed participants using a prototype of the device in a consumer kitchen lab environment. We assessed the users’ ability to set up and connect the appliance to a mobile device, use the mobile device to control the appliance, as well as their reaction to error screens. We designed this in-lab test to support other streams of research being utilized by the manufacturer.
Reaction to the product was positive overall, but we identified key areas to improve the initial connection and overall user experience. We provided specific design recommendations which were made before product launch.
A medical device manufacturer sought to evaluate the usability and safety of the patch pump and training with potential patients and healthcare providers.
A medical device manufacturer sought to test a simplified wearable patch pump for Type 2 diabetics that would communicate to users without the use of a primary display or companion device.
Our research approach included a certified diabetes educator who administered a 2-hour group training session with participants. After a minimum decay period of 24 hours, we observed participants using a non-functioning prototype.
Participant performance with the pump suggested patients would benefit from improvements to device training and support materials, such as the instructions for use (IFU). We provided the manufacturer with detailed recommendations for device improvement. We also delivered a robust human factors report that analyzed all errors experienced by participants.
Stimuli:Pumps and drug delivery devices
A major European games publisher needed to perfect their process to increase subscriptions.
A major games publisher asked us to conduct usability testing of the subscription sign-up and purchase journey for its online games store. Objectives for the study were to determine if the subscription offer was clear and appealing; evaluate whether participants could successfully subscribe and download a game; and assess the subscription cancellation process.
Because we really needed to get ‘in their heads’ we took a qualitative approach. Ten gamers participated in hour-long, in-person in-depth interviews (IDIs); half of the participants began their journey in the browser-based games store while the other half began their journey using the desktop client games store. During the IDIs, we posed tasks and scenarios and captured rich feedback.
Many participants did not know what the subscription fully entailed or what catalog of games would be included. Once a game was downloaded in the desktop client, conflicting messaging confused participants. To alleviate this, we made several recommendations on how to improve the subscription offer and download ability, as well as several improvements to readability and formatting.
Method/Process:Formative, In-lab testing
Stimuli:E-commerce, Gaming, Website
A global biotechnology company wanted to assess the usefulness and usability of its informational website designed for clinicians.
The goal of this study was to determine if clinicians thought a website that consolidated content from various news sources trustworthy and easy to use. This was the US portion of a two-country study.
We conducted 90-min individual interviews with specialty healthcare providers. Participants interacted with a clickable prototype of both the desktop and mobile websites. In addition to testing the usability of the site, the various types of content were also evaluated.
Overall, our US findings highlighted that while participants found the site usable, the terminology used, lack of context, and trust of news sources impacted usefulness. We were able to identify simple fixes that could dramatically improve usefulness and mitigate the issues around credibility.
Stimuli:Clinician-centered digital app
A pharmaceutical company needed to test usability of an app for patients facing a serious medical condition.
A pharmaceutical company created a mobile app to provide informational resources for patients facing a serious medical condition. We were asked to evaluate the app for usability and understand behavioral use related to navigation and content.
We conducted 60-minute remote usability sessions with adult patients and caregivers throughout the United States. Participants were asked to interact with the app to evaluate its ease of understanding and presentation of relevant content. We observed participants as they performed key tasks and collected their feedback as they interacted with the application.
Our research uncovered users’ mental model of how to use the app and provided feedback on the design and content within the application, what worked well, and what could be improved. We provided recommendations in several areas of concern including ease of navigation, completeness, and visual accessibility.
Method/Process:Formative, Remote testing
A global healthcare company sought to improve speech detection algorithms used by health care professionals (HCPs) to access patient information.
A global healthcare company needed to increase efficiency and accuracy of accessing patient information via both voice and text input.
We were asked to explore how health care professionals would naturally interact with a text and voice-controlled system in order to access information about their patients.
We interviewed more than 500 health care professionals from the US, UK, and Ireland, ensuring variety in our sample collection.
To learn how HCPs might interact with the system, we asked them to naturally request patient data in their own words, collecting both text and voice samples of various scenarios for each participant.
The diversity of our participants allowed us to capture a wide range of text and voice samples. We learned how HCPs would ask a machine for information in both text and voice formats and collected a large library of regional accents to use in training language algorithms to increase efficiency in these interactions.
Stimuli:Clinician-centered digital app, Voice-controlled technology
A pharmaceutical manufacturer wanted to eliminate selection errors due to similar packaging.
A pharmaceutical manufacturer chose to conduct a packaging differentiation study to assess the extent to which the proposed packaging for a new product and its supporting materials could be dispensed correctly and safely by intended users in the intended use environments.
We conducted simultaneous in-lab sessions with both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. They each performed their normal roles in a simulated pharmacy setting we designed. Our research sessions utilized simulated pharmacy shelves with realistic distractor cartons and prescription mock-ups.
We delivered design recommendations based on performance data paired with subjective and objective feedback on participant preference. Our insights provided the manufacturer a better understanding of risks associated with each design variation. We also provided a summary of these results for 510K submission.
Stimuli:Packaging and labeling
A global provider of network-based security threat detection systems sought to evaluate the user interface provided with its suite of products.
A global provider of enterprise security solutions sought to test the customer-facing interface for its security platform. We were tasked with identifying possible areas of confusion as well as exploring how enhancements to the interface and changes to tool placement might improve usability of a system designed to identify threats and assist in threat hunting.
Drawing on our expertise in user interface design and usability along with support from our UX researcher, who was trained by the client on how cyberthreats are investigated, we evaluated the various modules and features available to end users of the software. We utilized a rapid, timed approach to accurately reflect a real-world use scenario.
Our evaluation identified potential user interface issues that could be addressed to improve the overall usability of the platform. Our detailed findings offered opportunities for immediate improvement of the software and identified areas that may benefit from more targeted research with platform users.
A pharmaceutical company planned to make an existing infusion pump available to a new patient population.
A pharmaceutical company planned to offer a currently available infusion pump to a new user population. They needed to understand how use of the pump would differ with the new patient group and what changes might be necessary to safely adapt training methods for the unique needs of these new users.
We recruited nurse educators who routinely train patients to use infusion pumps and invited them to share their insights and unique experience during 90-minute remote sessions. We evaluated their feedback about how they structure their educational sessions and about how training needs are determined.
Study participants revealed specifics about how training content, duration, and frequency are tailored to the patient’s individual needs. They identified scenarios in which a pump may not be recommended for a particular patient, highlighting possible limitations of training. Our research also revealed commonalities in user needs, which could be leveraged during development of training materials and programs.
Method/Process:Exploratory, Remote testing
Stimuli:Pumps and drug delivery devices, Training
A pharmaceutical manufacturer sought to explore the ideal customer journey for a new connected wearable medication delivery system.
The new system would be utilized by a patient population that was unfamiliar with wearable injection systems. It would connect with an application to allow patients additional control over the administration of their medication.
We conducted in-lab testing to determine how much feedback and involvement was acceptable and desired by the user. Using graphical cards, users identified the ideal flow to receive, store, administer, and dispose of the device. One month later, additional testing with a smaller group of new and previous testers refined the user flow based on feedback from the first session, delving deeper into features, drawing on their current journey to determine how best to utilize connectivity.
We helped the client gain a better understanding of how patients would embrace this technology and to what extent they want connected features to support their medication journey. We provided design recommendations they used while building their device.
Stimuli:Drug delivery, Injection devices, Pumps and drug delivery devices
An auto manufacturer wanted to gather foundational insights from the US market about factors that car owners like/dislike about their current cars, reactions to a recently released model, and ease of use of in-car features in both the current and test vehicles.
Areas of interest for this study included topics such as aesthetics, exterior and interior design, technology, and safety features.
We employed a multi-tactic approach to obtain feedback on experiences with current cars and reactions to the test model. Prior to fieldwork, we had participants complete homework that included taking pictures of various aspects of their current car and completing a survey. Our research sessions included a focus group discussion followed by individual stationary in-car interviews. We recruited up to eight participants for each focus group and chose two participants to move on to the in-car interviews.
We collected qualitative feedback and comments, behavioral observation, and ratings. Sessions were conducted in English and simultaneously interpreted into the client’s native language for both live observers and session recordings.
With the results of this study, we provided a lens into US car owners. We summarized delighters and pain points that owners currently experience in their vehicles.
Our in-car sessions provided insight into usability, usefulness, and aesthetics of specific features in the test vehicle and specifically in comparison to their own vehicle. The foundational results of our study will allow the manufacturer to adapt their strategy roadmap.
A global medical device manufacturer wanted to promote internal awareness of and appreciation for best practices in the application of human factors engineering to medical device development.
The objective was to better understand the importance of integrating human factors into the early stages of their development process. To accomplish this, our team designed a full-day training, split into two modules.
Our team provided a broad overview of how feedback from end users should be leveraged early and often during product development, and how that feedback should be integrated into use specifications, task analyses, risk analyses, and the overall human factors plan.
We worked collaboratively with stakeholders to apply those best practices to their current products in development and talked through how to implement practical solutions.
Stakeholders walked away with tangible next steps to ensure their current products under development were receiving adequate human factors attention.
The FDA reached out to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) to assemble a team of experts to provide a training course for the Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis (DMEPA) from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
We were tasked with offering a deeper knowledge of and appreciation for the scientific roots of human factors (HF) research and user-centered design. A series of modules included the science behind HF, such as human perception, cognition, memory, and learning, as well as best practices in root cause analysis and dealing with the biases associated with subjective data.
Three experts were chosen by HFES to design and deliver a two-day training, including Korey Johnson (Bold Insight), Dr. Anthony Andre, and Michael Wiklund. The team presented a series of modules that included the science behind HF, such as human perception, cognition, memory, and learning, as well as best practices in root cause analysis and dealing with the biases associated with subjective data.
The team provided the FDA with the scientific underpinnings of HF – on one hand to amplify instances where requests for additional research are warranted, and on the other hand to provide the scientific context for when that additional research may not be warranted.
A pharmaceutical manufacturer was simultaneously developing a liquid formulation for a drug (currently only available as a pill), as well as a new delivery device to administer this liquid formulation.
The manufacturer wanted to evaluate the usability and acceptability of the new formulation and prototype device, as well as, gather insights for further development.
We conducted one-on-one, in-depth interviews with participants currently taking the medication in pill form. We asked participants to complete a simulated-use scenario using the prototype device. We collected feedback on ease of use, physical attributes, need for instructions, and overall acceptability of the device. We also captured participant data around the new liquid formulation, including appearance, taste, and color.
While the device was relatively easy to use, feedback about the acceptability and usefulness of the device for daily use was largely negative. Participants nearly unanimously cited the size of the device as a major deterrent (especially as it related to portability, storage, disposal, etc.) and were also hesitant about the potential taste of the medication.
Due to these issues, it was not recommended that development of the device be pursued for this medication unless substantial changes were made.
A pharmaceutical manufacturer was exploring next generation improvements for currently available medication to treat osteoarthritis in the knee.
The current medication requires patients to receive multiple injections in the knee for a full dose. The manufacturer had three goals for this project:
- to better understand and improve the current routine of doctors that administer this drug,
- to gather feedback on using the drug for osteoarthritis of other parts of the body,
- to receive feedback on a prototype syringe design.
We took a multi-method approach to the study. We first visited orthopedic surgeons’ offices to observe current practices while they administered intraarticular injections into the knees of patients, view the spaces in which they work, and talk to staff that assist with the injection process. After the site visits were completed, we conducted one-on-one interviews with HCPs to further learn about their routines with intraarticular injections, their thoughts on injecting to other sites, and opinions on reducing the total number of injections needed for a full dose. We concluded the sessions with the HCPs administering a simulated injection with a prototype syringe into a model of a knee and providing high-level directional feedback for future development.
We were able to address all three goals for the study:
- We provided HCP feedback about the number of injections.
- We provided design recommendations for the syringe to provide better stability while administering.
- We uncovered feedback about alternate injection locations, however, because of the focused experience of knee specialists, we recommended additional research with specialists that have experience with the new injection location.
A manufacturer of consumer goods sought to refresh guidelines related to the design of its product line.
We were tasked to gather and analyze consumer insights on three new visual brand language (VBL) options, which could be used to guide the design of future product offerings. We were to explore consumer attitudes toward these options based on many factors such as aesthetics, how the products might fit into the user’s kitchen, brand and category appropriateness, consumer experience, and distinction.
Participants joined one-on-one remote video-conferencing sessions from their own kitchens. Participants were asked to complete activities and react to renderings of prospective VBL options. These sessions, each lasting 90 minutes, facilitated in-depth questioning and allowed participants’ opinions and preferences to be fully explored.
We collected a wide range of opinions by recruiting a mix of consumers from various geographic areas, age groups, and genders. Our insights helped to identify trends and understand how a user’s personal design style might influence purchasing decisions. Output from our study helped the manufacturer make data-driven decisions regarding the future of their visual brand language for their product line.
Method/Process:Design, Formative, Remote testing
An innovative healthcare solutions company sought to test the usability of their electronic health record (EHR) mobile application.
Our team was tasked with evaluating the usability and utility of an electronic health record (EHR) mobile application. The goal was to evaluate the usability of the current user interface and to provide evidence of utility of this application.
We conducted the study at a hospital where we asked nurses to perform tasks typically executed on an EHR under simulated conditions. The nurses then provided feedback on a post-test questionnaire for qualitative and quantitative data.
The task success rates identified strengths and weaknesses in the application. We identified areas of confusion and inefficiency and provided interface design recommendations that would improve navigation and efficiency.
Stimuli:Clinician-centered digital app
A medical manufacturer had US-approved surgical equipment, but the current design was not working for some international markets.
International markets required the system to be smaller and more compact, but still maintain the necessary functionality. With the new changes, the manufacturer wanted to conduct testing in the US to get FDA approval, which would facilitate approval in international markets.
We tested the redesigned device with a surgical team trained on the current system.
We conducted in-person testing in an outpatient clinic, in the surgical team’s environment. We evaluated system setup, tool programming, and use during a simulated surgery.
We evaluated and updated their risk assessment (uFMEA), aligning with previously submitted documents. We also identified new risks and user paths for the redesigned equipment.
Stimuli:Pumps and drug delivery devices, Surgical equipment
A pharmaceutical company wanted to understand if potential functionalities of a digital therapy met user needs.
A pharmaceutical company sought exploratory research to explore whether potential functionalities of a digital therapy would be desired by end users. We were tasked with understanding how these new functions would be accepted by end users as well as identifying additional needs or desires of user groups.
We conducted remote exploratory interviews with patients and healthcare providers, using their journeys from diagnosis to treatment to guide the development of potential interfaces. Patient recruiting included adults and minor participants (aged 5-17) with amblyopia, a type of visual impairment; some also had additional diagnoses, such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy, which impacted their mobility and cognitive abilities.
Our research indicated that the concept for this therapy was well received by nearly all HCP and patient participants. Our data from this study informed the development of a user interface design for this digital therapy and offered additional insights on the needs and preferences of end users.
Method/Process:Exploratory, Remote testing
Stimuli:Patient-centered digital app
A pharmaceutical manufacturer sought to improve the design and usability of a currently available pump carrying accessory.
The manufacturer of a drug delivery pump sought feedback on a carrying accessory designed to allow the user to wear their pump under clothing. Three new variations of the carrying accessory were developed, each with different components. We were tasked with providing feedback to help determine which variation would provide the most substantial improvement in overall user experience.
We asked current and past users of the drug delivery pump to evaluate images and videos of three new designs. We identified pain points and avenues for improvement by asking users about specific instances where they struggled with their current carrying accessory.
Participants provided feedback based on various factors such as comfort, pump access, closures, and need for caretaker assistance. Our research clearly pointed to the most important attributes across designs, resulting in a hybrid design to meet user needs.
Method/Process:Formative, Remote testing
Stimuli:Drug delivery, Pumps and drug delivery devices
A manufacturer of personal care products sought to assess the ability of users to follow cleaning and disinfection protocols in a clinical setting.
The manufacturer tasked us with evaluating a cleaning and disinfection process designed for use in a clinical setting. We were to recruit practicing dental hygienists and dental assistants with the goal of assessing their ability to safely and effectively complete the full cleaning and disinfection requirements for the device.
We utilized one-on-one moderated usability tests in a simulated-use environment. Our lab provided items commonly found in a clinical setting including a sink, personal protective equipment, trash bins, and cleaning and disinfectant solutions. Participants were instructed to do what they would do in their own practice to prepare the device for their next patient. Instructional materials were provided, but participants were not specifically directed to use them.
We observed participants while they performed critical tasks for proper cleaning and disinfection of the device. While it was originally assumed that training would not be required, our research revealed that in-person training was necessary and we recommended modifications that should be implemented prior to use of the device.
Method/Process:In-lab testing, Simulated environment, Summative
A global relocation company was designing a new mobile app and wanted to better understand user needs prior to release.
The company required exploratory research to understand the minimum viable product (MVP) requirements for an application designed to support transferees with the corporate relocation process.
Our research included two user groups: transferees and relocation specialists.
With transferees, our team conducted:
- In-home contextual inquiries to understand existing logistics and how it could translate into an app,
- A multi-week longitudinal online diary study outlining the relocation journey to determine how to enhance the process,
- Focus groups to gather design feedback.
With relocation specialists, we conducted conference intercept research to understand barriers to app adoption.
We identified the transferees’ needs that could be addressed with a mobile app and the aspects of the relocation process that still required human interaction. We prioritized these items for the app’s initial release (MVP) and provided design recommendations.
This multi-study program of research used a combination of early iterative design studies and later formative studies to refine all elements of the drug delivery system.
A pharmaceutical manufacturer sought to bring a new drug delivery system to market. The system included an injector device, instructions for use (IFU), training, and packaging.
Our learnings from each study in the research program fed into the next, and our cohesive body of research informed all design aspects for the new drug delivery system.
We partnered with the manufacturer to submit a robust data set and validation study plan for FDA review and subsequent validation study.
Stimuli:Drug delivery, Packaging and labeling, Pumps and drug delivery devices, Training
A global telecommunications company sought to explore areas of opportunity for growth in the augmented reality space.
A provider of telecommunication services sought to increase its strategies in the consumer space with targeted expansion into the augmented reality (AR) market.
With high saturation in existing business sectors, they sought to identify innovative AR concepts and develop strategies to take a leadership position in an evolving marketplace.
Our research focused on market dynamics, technological advancement, and consumer need. In partnership with The Office of Experience, we identified and explored seven key opportunity spaces with high growth potential in both the mobile phone and wearable AR markets.
We proposed over 100 unique concepts within the seven key opportunity spaces identified by our initial research. A broad range of concepts were presented, both large and small, encompassing multiple use cases.
We offered long-range recommendations to aid in developing both immediate and near-future concepts that could be tested with consumers.
Stimuli:Augmented reality (AR)
A pharmaceutical manufacturer wanted to improve the usability and usefulness of an existing HCP portal for a desktop and design a new mobile app version of the portal.
The portal was to help HCPs monitor patient information and medication adherence. The manufacturer presented a multi-phased research plan that included two teams of researchers working independently on the two portal apps. The goals of the desktop app research were to evaluate account registration performance, usability, and new feature integration. The goal for the mobile app research was proof of concept, including how well the data was presented and understood, user interaction, and usefulness of the content.
Both studies conducted one-on-one, in-lab usability sessions with three different groups of specialized HCPs using prototypes of the portal. Our ability to adapt and be flexible, debriefing in real time, was key to successfully accomplishing the study goals: When we discovered that session time was inadequate to collect the desired data, we debriefed after the sessions to refocus testing for the following day. We already had clear trends, so it was possible to adjust the protocol and moderators guide to cover all of the manufacturer’s objectives.
We helped the manufacturer and design agency choose a winning design with which to move forward. We made key design recommendations to improve the understanding how information is presented, how to interact with the content, improve the terminology to make it more useful, and improve the usability and utility of the portals (both on mobile and desktop). After the study, we met with key stakeholders, including those from the manufacturer and designers from their agency to ensure everyone knew the strategy for the next round of research. We also provided the research results to the agency so they could design the next iteration with confidence. Our goal was to support the business and design side; with multiple design teams involved, it was critical to sync with stakeholders, and successfully communicate findings.
Stimuli:Clinician-centered digital app
A pharmaceutical manufacturer wanted to use an existing connected system mobile app with a pediatric population.
The FDA requested verification that the app would work with this new pediatric patient population.
The initial study was to identify major showstoppers (if any) and if using the existing mobile app was possible with these patients.
For this exploratory research, we simulated at-home environments in a lab setting, including a mock living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Set up in the same test space, we used room dividers, furniture, sink, and mirrors to make it feel as realistic as possible. The goal was to encourage the pediatric patient and caregiver to do what they do at home with the medical system and accompanying mobile app. They simulated the entire process to interact with the app and medication system. Test preparations unique to this study included informal interviews with child specialists familiar with this population to ensure the lab setup would make the participants feel comfortable; modifications included stress relief balls, sensory bin, and wall signs. This specialized population also required we have an on-site clinician throughout the test sessions.
Our preliminary research revealed that working with pediatrics with this diagnosis required a heightened level of moderator sensitivity as the patient may not be aware of their diagnosis. This required modifications to the test protocol. Working with clinical sites prior to testing was crucial to uncovering this foundational knowledge.
We learned our simulated in-home setup supported data collection; patients and caregivers adapted well to the simulated environments. We also learned to include a kitchen in future studies as there was a tendency for patients and/or caregivers to utilize these areas when prepping the medication. We provided recommendations based on the study data.
Stimuli:Patient-centered digital app
An auto manufacturer sought to evaluate key features and workflows of two different mobile app prototypes.
An auto manufacturer wanted to evaluate specific features and workflows of two different mobile app prototypes. We were tasked with understanding user preferences and methods of communication with dealerships, as well as identifying the needs and expectations of users to improve mobile app usability and feature discoverability.
During one-on-one usability sessions, we asked participants to complete key tasks on the mobile application prototypes. We followed up by having participants compare specific features on the two prototypes. We collected feedback on first impressions, feature discoverability, usability, and general user experience.
Our research identified a clear preference for one of the prototypes and further identified user needs and expectations for the mobile app experience. The data we captured helped to inform the design approach and guide decisions for future development.
A consumer products manufacturer wanted to evaluate multiple designs of a new feature for small home appliance.
A consumer products manufacturer sought to test the usability of a new feature for a currently available product. The manufacturer hoped to gain insight into customers’ first impressions at the shelf and to understand which of four proposed designs led to a more successful and intuitive experience.
We asked current product owners and new users to react to high-quality renderings and use the product prototypes in a consumer kitchen lab environment. We gave participants access to all tools and ingredients they have in a home kitchen and we observed them navigating the process.
Our research uncovered that while the level of intuitiveness varied between prototypes, the product did not match the users’ mental model overall. We found that users ultimately felt successful, even if they did not prepare the product according to the company’s specifications. With our insights, the manufacturer opted to continue development and redesign to better match users’ expectations.
A pharmaceutical company required a validation study to determine if the preparation and administration of an injection kit requiring the reconstitution of a pediatric medication was safe and effective.
The manufacturer asked us to determine if nurses could prepare an injection device and reconstitute the drug for a clinical trial.
We executed every stage of the project from protocol writing to recruitment of a hard-to-recruit population (clinical trial pediatric nurses) to writing the validation report.
The validation study included HCP training, done by our on-staff RN to demonstrate techniques, a 24-hour decay, and a 60-min validation session, during which participants had to prepare and administer two doses of the kit.
We evaluated and updated their risk assessment (uFMEA), aligning with previously submitted documents, while identifying new risks and user paths for the redesigned equipment.
A manufacturer of surgical products had developed a new surgical mesh that provided various advancements in clinical outcomes, but also came with necessary adjustments to implantation procedure.
The manufacturer needed to assess the impacts of these adjustments to surgical teams’ ability to implant the mesh safely and effectively. They also needed to tailor the packaging and labeling to clearly communicate the need for the adjustments.
We recruited representative members of surgical teams to conduct simulated implantations in porcine subjects at a simulation lab managed by a local hospital.
Our researchers observed the simulated implantations to capture the surgical team dynamics and interactions with the revised implantation procedures.
We provided the manufacturer with redesigned packaging and labeling for their surgical mesh product that clearly communicated the necessary procedural adjustments.
With the revised packaging and labeling, residual use-related risks were reduced to acceptable levels.
Stimuli:Packaging and labeling
A multinational tech company needed to improve how different user groups monitor business performance of their games and apps.
A multinational technology company asked us to evaluate information architecture and navigation of a new developer tool used to publish and manage games and apps online. The objectives for the research were to evaluate user performance against a pre-defined task set as well as identify usability issues related to business performance, especially monetization of the games and apps.
We conducted global, remote, moderated usability tests with a medium-fidelity prototype across two weeks. Thirty participants consisting of engineers, quality assurance, marketing managers, and product managers were recruited from small to medium size companies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
We observed several usability concerns that could prevent successful usage of the application. We also learned that factors such as job roles, business goals, and app type impact navigation approach. Several enhancements to the user experience were recommended.
Method/Process:Formative, Global research, Remote testing
Stimuli:E-commerce, Gaming, Website
A provider of digital payment services sought testing of various prototypes designed to allow customers to shop and pay using smart speaker technology.
A provider of digital payment technology sought to obtain feedback from potential consumers on the ideal process for making purchases via smart speakers.
We were asked to determine the level of interest in these services and identify possible barriers to enrollment and use.
All of our participants were daily users of smart speakers and some had previously used their smart speaker to make purchases. We asked them to share their opinions and evaluate several unique prototypes.
To encourage deeper discussion, we recruited pairs who were familiar with each other for dyad sessions. These sessions were followed with larger focus groups to uncover additional common insights.
Our research revealed the types of products and services consumers would be willing to purchase via smart speaker. Limitations of the service were also brought to light, with many users sharing common concerns.
Our detailed findings on consumer comfort with payment services for smart speakers ultimately helped position this technology for the future.
Stimuli:Smart home, Voice-controlled technology
Assess a mobile application with a focus on usability and features.
We were asked to evaluate various aspects of three functionalities on the company’s mobile phone app. Our client was interested in screen flow, navigation, layout, and user awareness of key features, as well as, user interface issues.
Our team conducted expert evaluations of the app on three device platforms. On each platform, we completed tasks to evaluate the issues of concern to our client. After reviewing specification documents, we created a prototype to illustrate the optimal page flow.
The result was a platform-independent clickable flow document that our client could use to design future mobile apps. The specifications document that we provided detailed the ways in which the flow would change based on the device for which it was designed. These tools refined the client’s design iteration process and integrated three previously disparate designs into one standardized design and flow.
A pharmaceutical manufacturer is developing an updated version of an existing, in-market system to help patients with medication adherence. As a connected medical system, both the existing product and new product have an accompanying mobile application.
The manufacturer makes continuous improvements to the existing mobile app, while also designing the next generation of the product.
These two streams of research (improving the existing app and designing the new system) eventually intersect during the release of the new product.
Throughout this research, the goals were to evaluate the new system for safety, effectiveness, and unforeseen use risks, think through touchpoints and pain points of updated releases to ensure this is accounted for in the new system, consider alternate designs to make both versions of the system more usable and understood, and bridge patients to the new app (training, integration).
To reach this specialized patient population, we tested in multiple locations across the country, both in English- and Spanish-speaking in-lab sessions. We also utilized our on-staff RN to advise on considerations during testing for this protected patient population to ensure we approached testing scenarios and environments in a way that participants will understand and respond to. One part of the research required clinician-assisted training to simulate real-world training of the system.
Our research for the next-generation system resulted in our team providing recommendations to ensure there is a seamless set-up process that prompt less questions and fears of using the system, less outreach to call centers, and to drive accompanying mobile app use.
We also provided design recommendations for system packaging that included improved imagery, layout, terminology, sentence structure, labeling, and fonts.