Usability study in the development of Human-Machine interfaces: improvement of products identification and accessibility

Tomé Canas, Tiago Girão, Jorge Sales Gomes

Complex technological systems are present in many aspects of our everyday life. The functionality of these systems can be improved by analyzing the phenomena involved between the users and the machine’s interface. Usability issues have become more recognized in recent years as companies see the benefits of researching and developing their products with a user-oriented approach (outside to inside), instead of more technology/equipment oriented methods (inside to outside). Understanding the interaction between user and product in the real environment of operation, it’s possible to identify some needed functionalities or design flaws that were not anticipated by traditional market researches.

This paper presents the development stages of a service providing machine, focusing on its user interface. Observing the target users, the interface is evaluated and redesigned, improving incrementally the effectiveness (fit for purpose) and the efficiency (work or time required to use) of the overall systems operability. The case study presented here shows how visual communication can improve the use of complex systems, reflect on the importance of interface design.