5 Tips for Product Usability

How can designers improve the quality of interaction between people and products? IDC senior design engineer, Nick Chubb, advises.


  1. Don’t be committed to the current format or embodiment of the product. Keep an open mind and use insights gained from the analysis of user needs to drive the characteristics of the product so that the outcome is designed for the best user experience and not tied down by pre-existing beliefs.

  1. Consider every stakeholder. By stakeholder, we don’t just mean those who are financially invested, but anyone who is affected by the product. Who uses it? Who cleans it? Who assembles it? Who maintains it? Who delivers it? Who sells it? Make sure you consider all the different groups of people who interact with the product.

  1. Map out the experience journey for every stakeholder and list out every interaction in as many different use environments as possible. Visibility of all interactions helps you see the bigger picture and is more likely to bring forward opportunities to simplify user interactions. This can improve usability but is difficult to do when you don’t have all the information mapped out.

  1. Remember to consider all human senses and their limitations. For example, detecting an audible alarm from a product may be affected by the age of the user, the possibility of hearing loss or just the noise level in the environment in which the product is being used. Another example could be memory. If there are too many steps to recall in a user task or if too much information must be remembered going from one screen to another in a digital app this could result in use errors.

  1. Identify all possible product use errors. This could include observations, interviews, reading product reviews, reviewing known use errors, expert review, etc. An important step is a full task analysis. For example, if the product is a glucose meter and the task is placing blood on a strip, then examples of use errors could be applying too little blood onto the strip or applying the blood in the wrong location. Analysing each task like this is helpful in defining the features of the product.

Sustainable design workshop
23 October 2018

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