Creativity under constraints: Innovations in usability testing in response to COVID-19
Event Type
Oral Presentations
TimeThursday, April 151:10pm - 1:30pm EDT
LocationMedical and Drug Delivery Devices
DescriptionThere is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we go about our daily lives. It has created many constraints that did not exist a year ago that have affected our personal and professional processes in large and small ways. COVID-19 has forced Human Factors (HF) practices to adapt to enable us to continue to perform HF activities, including conducting usability testing. In some ways, these adaptations were made for safety purposes – to ensure we keep all the people involved in usability testing—including test teams, participants, trainers, and facility staff—safe. However, in other ways, more creative adaptations have been made to enable conducting effective usability tests despite all the necessary safety measures in place and without sacrificing essential usability testing criteria set forth by regulators (e.g., representative users and use environments, complete data collection, human subject protections). The COVID-induced constraints forced our team and the rest of the HF industry to advance our methods and identify more robust and creative processes when, without the presence of such constraints, HF practitioners might have remained consistent in our existing approaches because they aligned with the current standard of care.

It is well established that constraints benefit creativity. When options are limited, people identify more solutions, not fewer. This presentation will focus on looking into the future and discussing the innovations and industry trends that have evolved – and we expect will continue to evolve – as a result of the constraints of COVID-19, even once we are able to relax safety protocols. As practitioners in the healthcare space, we constantly see evolution and innovation around us, with the advancement of medical technology and new approaches to healthcare. As HF consultants who preach innovation, iteration, and development, it is important that we do the same in our own work processes and methods. Over the past year, COVID-19 has enabled us to think about innovation of work processes and methods in new and different ways.

The presenters will focus on several key trends that we anticipate continuing into the future in a “post-COVID” world, discussing aspects such as (1) access to test participants, (2) infrastructure to support usability testing, (3) usability test lab configuration, (4) technology to facilitate data collection and data sharing, (5) and societal or environmental benefits of new solutions, such as expedited and/or low-cost options for conducting usability testing (e.g., particularly in cases where evaluations might have otherwise been expensive or cost-prohibitive).
Associate Research Director, HFR&D
Managing Human Factors Specialist