Human Centered Design
Human-centered design and research delivers a deep understanding of the needs and dreams of
stakeholders, resulting in relevant ideas for future experience, environment and/or services.  It utilizes
a creative discovery process that is collaboratively developed through a hands-on, participatory
approach and is generally informed by ethnographic observations.  This deep understanding allows
us to better anticipate and address people's healthcare futures through an understanding of their
experiential and emotional needs and dreams and can be used to drive and inspire the
programming/design process.  It also has the potential to greatly improve the communication and
collaboration between the programming/design team and the client team.

Tools and methods of participatory designing we employ to generate innovative concepts include
personas and future scenarios, image card sorts, experience-based collages, mock journeys,
participatory visioning sessions, 3-D generative prototyping toolkits and storytelling futures toolkits.

User Groups and Pro-typing
A prototype can be used as part of the design process to allow architects and designers the ability to
explore design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting schematic design
production.  We use our experience to tailor the prototype according to the specific unknowns present
in the intended design of key spaces and functional departments in a healthcare facility.  For
examples, some prototypes are used to confirm and verify staff/client interest in a proposed process
or design while other prototypes will attempt to verify the specific design approach.  It is our intent to
offer a collaborative approach which brings our specialized skills and training in general fabrication
techniques that can help bridge between theoretical designs and the fabrication of prototypes.

Types of prototypes considered in our process are:
Proof-of-Principle Prototype Model
This prototype is also called a breadboard.  This type of prototype is used to test some aspect
  of the intended design without attempting to exactly simulate the visual appearance, choice of
  materials or intended manufacturing process.  Such prototypes can be used to "prove" out a
  potential design approach such as range of motion, mechanics, sensors, architecture, etc.
  These types of models are often used to identify which design options will not work, or where
  further development and testing is necessary.

Form Study Prototype Model
  This type of prototype will allow designers to explore the basic size, look and feel of a product
  without simulating the actual function or exact visual appearance of the product.  Here we help
  assess ergonomic factors and provide insight into many aspects of the final physical form.
  These can be hand-carved models from easily sculpted, inexpensive materials (e.g. urethane
  foam), without representing the intended color, finish or texture.  Due to the materials used, these
  models are intended for internal decision making and are generally not durable enough or
  suitable for use by representative users or consumers.

Visual Prototype Model
This model will capture the intended design aesthetic and simulate the color and surface textures
  of the intended materials.  These models will be suitable for use in market research, packaging
  mock-ups and photo shoots.

Advantages to our approach include:

  • Provide a visual manifestation of process and physical space to expedite clear understanding
    in shorter time.  Provides an environment for rapid feedback on various approaches to
    schematic layout of procedural and key functional areas.

  • Encourages active participation among users and design team members.

  • Cost effective in reduction of re-work and misinterpretation of desired functions.

  • Rapid identification of issues related to the efficacy of conceived designs and allows further
    analysis of function, space and activities.

Usability Testing
Usability testing is a serious investment of time and resources for any team.  However, time and time
again, we find that design teams actually save time (and money) when they start testing at the
beginning of a project.  By finding usability problems very early on, teams prevent themselves fro
going in the wrong direction, leading to wasted time and resources.

Usability testing is used to evaluate a concept or design by testing it on its intended users.  This is
vital as it gives direct input on how real users use the system through watching people trying to use
space for its intended purpose.  Setting up a usability test involves carefully creating a scenario, or
realistic situation, wherein the person performs a list of tasks using the spaces or processing being
tested while observers watch and take notes.  Several other test instruments such as scripted
instructions, paper prototypes and pre- and post-test questionnaires are also used to gather feedback
on the product being tested.

These observations are specific:

  • Performance - How much time and how many steps are required for people to complete basic
    tasks?  (For example, finding supplies, finding the patient, procuring meds, accessing
    locations, transporting patients, etc.)

  • Accuracy - How many mistakes did people make?  (And were they fatal or recoverable with the
    right information?)

  • Recall - How much does the person remember afterwards or after periods of non-use about
    the intended function of key spaces?

  • Emotional Response - How does the person feel about the tasks/area?  Is the person
    confident, stressed?  Would the user recommend this approach/design/concept to peers?

We consider a usability test to be successful when the design team members receive the information
they need to make the right decision.  Successful usability tests produce informed decisions.  When a
design has a usability problem, it is generally the result of a wrong decision that takes the design in a
direction that creates frustration for the user.  There are generally two outcomes when poor decisions
are made during design processes:  either the user experience is worsened because of a change
that just shouldn't have happened; or a valuable opportunity is missed to improve the design's user
experience.  Either way, when usability tests work, the design and process concepts are significantly
less likely to result in poor decisions here.
Human Centered Design