Dr. Colombine Gardair & Helen Cheetham, System Concepts Ltd.
Human factors engineering (HFE) and user experience (UX) research are often treated as two distinct disciplines. However, most of the organisations, tasks, products and systems that are the focus of HFE are designed for and experienced by people. Understanding customers and employees is key to being able to design and implement the best environments, services and processes for them. Our workshop has been designed to showcase a range of methods used in UX research and identify how to apply them to provide insights in industries that are traditionally more familiar with HFE methods.
System Concepts has been providing UX, ergonomics and human factors support for more than 30 years. We would be delighted to share some of our insights into how UX methods could be used to support HFE. We hope this workshop will appeal to HFE practitioners who are not familiar with UX methods and are curious to see a new perspective on investigating and improving the user experience for customers, patients or employees.
UX methods allow you to gain insights into the users’ perceptions, behaviour and attitudes. Our workshop will allow attendees to creatively explore UX methods and get hands-on experience of what it would be like to apply them in their own industry. In particular, we aim to present methods that are simple and cost-effective to reproduce.
One of the methods we will discuss and encourage attendees to participate in is empathic modelling. Almost one in five of the world’s population has some form of disability. In the UK alone, there are nearly 10 million people who have a disability, with a disposable income of nearly £50 billion. Empathic modelling is a method best used to try and put the designer in the shoes of a person with motor or sensory impairments. Approaches can be simple but very effective to gain insights into the challenges faced by people with disabilities.
System Concepts use a range of approaches for empathic modelling and will provide examples including visual impairment simulation glasses and specialised clothes that restrict movement, to simulate mobility impairments such as reduced dexterity.
A second method to be explored will be ethnography and cultural probes. These can be a great way to capture insights about users and their activities in context. There are a range of ways to implement these methods, from shadowing to diary studies, videos and photography. Using these methods you can gather insights into personal, social and technological factors that influence individuals’ behaviours. Other methods we would like to share include participatory design, rapid iterative testing and evaluation and personas.
The format of the workshop will consist of a short presentation to introduce the different methods available. We will then divide people into smaller groups (of six to eight people), depending on their personal interests, and work them through one specific method. Finally, we will close the workshop by asking everyone to reflect on how each of the methods they have experienced is best applied to the participants’ own industries.