Understanding Your Product’s Users

Human Factors Engineering

  1. What is Human Factors Engineering?
  2. Why Human Factors Engineering is Vital to Product Development
  3. When to Start Human Factors Activities
  4. How to Integrate Human Factors Engineering into Product Design
  5. Best Practices for User Testing and Usability Specifications
  6. Working With Goddard (Tell us about your next project)

What is Human Factors Engineering?

Human factors engineering consists of activities that measure and detail the interaction between human beings and systems. It’s a science that can apply from everything to the size of a button all the way to the room that a product will eventually be used in.

The practice is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the development of medical devices (Learn more about medical device regulations). For MedTech and all other industries, human factors engineering plays a critical role in the product development process.

Read the Human Factors Engineering White Paper

Why Human Factors Engineering is Vital to Product Development

So, why is human factors engineering so important for product developers? The data gathered from human factors activities helps to ensure that the product you create is actually useful – that it meets the needs of your target user.

A product may look sleek or represent a major technological advance but if it doesn’t meet the needs or expectations of the users, it will likely fail on the market.

Importantly, human factors engineering can also help intercept misuse and mitigate potential harm. Thoughtful execution of human factors activities enables product development teams to identify and resolve problems with their product early in the design process, preventing delays in the product launch timeline and costly design changes.

What sets Goddard apart from other product development firms

When to Start Human Factors Activities

Goddard WorkshopIt may seem logical to hold off on collecting human factors data until you are ready to put a fully-formed product in front of its intended users. But there is a lot of very valuable data to collect in the early stages of the product development process. And this data should be used to inform the product’s design from the very start.

Even without a fully-formed product, there are plenty of tools you can use to glean valuable information from users – for instance, you could create a survey or even build a pared-down mock-up of the product’s design to assess users’ interaction with early concepts.

It’s critical to begin your human factors engineering efforts early in the product development process because as time goes on, your product’s design will solidify and any changes will become a source of schedule delay

Learn More: Phase Zero: The First and Most Important Step in a Product Development Plan

How to Integrate Human Factors Engineering into Product Design

Human factors engineering activities are not just another item to check off of your product development to-do list.

Rather, it’s an iterative process that should inform your product’s design as you move through the product development process. The cycle should look something like this for each phase of your product development effort: brainstorm, create, test, and feed your findings back into the next round of development.

This ensures that the findings you uncover from your human factors activities are used to improve your product and better meet the needs of your product’s users.

Download our free white paper on Human Factors Engineering

Best Practices for User Testing and Usability Specifications

“And as product developers, we regularly caution our clients to keep this at the front of their minds: you are not your user.”

“This product needs to be easy to use.” – This is a common request that we hear from our clients at the outset of a product development effort. But that statement, on its own, doesn’t really mean anything.

To establish proper usability specifications, we need to turn “easy to use” into something tangible – we need to understand how the end-users define “easy”.

The goal when creating usability specifications is to develop requirements that are both measurable and meaningful.

Thorough and thoughtful user testing is the hallmark of human factors engineering. And as product developers, we regularly caution our clients to keep this at the front of their minds: you are not your user.

We can’t assume to know anything about what the user wants, who the user is, or how the user will interact with our system until we’ve conducted user testing. And when we conduct user testing, there is a lot to consider.

Is the testing cohort representative of the user base’s demographics? Is there a sufficient number of people in our test to achieve statistical significance? Does our testing environment mirror the product’s eventual use environment?

Learn More About Goddard’s Product Development Process

Working with Goddard

Human factors engineering is a critical component of product development. There is a lot to think about as you build and create, but don’t let the human factors process overwhelm you.

If you’re daunted by the task of taking on all the work to better understand your product’s users, our human factors engineering experts can help you ensure your product is useful, meets regulations, and can stand up to its competition.

From concept to production, our highly-skilled engineers and designers deliver a competitive difference with our on-site partnership model, quality commitment, collaborative expertise, and unique employee development programs.

Tell us about your project and let’s begin a conversation about creating products with technical precision and elegant design.

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