Step by step: ensuring your instructions are as intuitive as your medical device

Author: Simon Thorne, Usability and Human Centred Design Consultant

Products with a low number of user steps are often perceived as user-friendly, efficient, and easy-to-use. However, if critical steps are omitted from instructions, confusion and user error can ensue. In this whitepaper, Simon Thorne, Usability and Human Centred Design Consultant at Sagentia Innovation, considers how to achieve true ease of use via an empathy-led approach that accounts for users’ needs, capabilities, and environments.

There’s a widely held belief that products with few user steps are easier to use than those with many steps. Minimising user steps is often a key design goal to aid product marketing. However, oversimplifying instructions for use can be counterintuitive. 

This is especially true when designing medical devices. Usability practitioners must consider who users are, as well as their background, cultural exposure, experience, education, and needs. Use case scenarios and the use environment (e.g. in clinic or at home) also impact overall usability.

True ease of use doesn’t necessarily equate to fewer steps in the instructions for use. It requires empathy-led design and careful articulation of instructions, accounting for users’ real-world needs and experiences. In this whitepaper, we look at how to achieve this via usability engineering and empathic design principles. We also consider how to streamline and enhance instructions without omitting important user steps.

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