July 27, 2011
By Christina Vivona, Software Quality Engineer
These days, the medical device industry is developing more devices with software or graphical user interfaces (GUI) than ever before. In my experience, the interface features are often considered too late in the process, rather than early and iteratively throughout the development cycle.
As with all tools, GUIs must meet actual users’ needs in the context of real-time use. And a good tool is transparent to the work it facilitates —it makes the job easier.
The complex nature of many GUIs drives this point home. How many of us have experienced a system that is frustrating, confusing, or takes a long time to learn?
Much of the interaction that users have with GUIs is cognitive. So you need a solid understanding of the users’ mental models and perceptions to design one that will feel intuitive and safe. The only way to ensure you’re developing a tool that people will really use is by asking them and involving them in the process early and often. This structured, iterative approach will:
In short, it leads to a better product.
But this isn’t to say it’s all going to be very easy. Designing an optimal interface involves a host of functions, including:
While there’s a lot to consider, it’s well worth it. Incorporating GUI design techniques early and throughout the development process results in safer, more efficient, relevant, and successful medical devices.