How can we ensure the usability improves with the next generation of AT products

The aim of this study was to research and evaluate a products usability culminating in a redesign and hence demonstrate some of the processes that could be used when redesigning. The chosen interface was one of Dynamic Controls advanced joystick remotes the DX2-REM550.

The method of the research was to analyse the current design by first exploring relevant cognitive theories relating to cognitive processes. The interface was examined to review its success for targeted user groups. The input and outputs of the interfaces were investigated to see how suited they were to the user and the environment. The interaction style of the joystick was examined and an interaction model was used to analyze the success of the interactions.

Following from the analysis of the current design a proposal for a redesign was made. To assist in the re-design the Usability Engineering lifecycle model was followed (Nielsen, Jakob. 1992, Usability Engineering). Both low and medium fidelity prototyping was used to test the design and relevant design rules such as Smith and Mosier (1986) and the Seven Principles of Universal Design where applied to the interface.

Finally the prototypes were evaluated using a Cognitive Walkthrough and a Heuristic evaluation.

Some of the key findings from the research highlighted that the designer must have an awareness of cognitive theories, have a clear understanding of the needs of the user group and the necessity to use various levels of prototyping for evaluation.