Comparative usability testing

Location: UK
Application: Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI)
Project scope: Human Factors Analysis (task analysis, SHERPA), Competitor benchmarking and Instructions for Use.

Our client was in the process of testing and marketing a new Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) and commissioned us to conduct a usability study to assess how the device compares to rival DPIs currently on the market.

Essentially, the purpose of the study was to provide empirical evidence to support our clients’ thinking that their new device out performs key competitor devices with respect to device usability and safety. Our clients end goal was to present and publish the results as part of the device marketing campaign.

We designed the study to look at the three key components of usability as defined in ISO 13407:1999, and collected the following objective and subjective data to enable the comparison of devices to be made: 

  1. Effectiveness: Frequency of critical and non-critical errors 
  2. Efficiency: Time taken to set-up and use the device
  3. Satisfaction: Overall user preference 

We conducted a literature review, heuristic evaluations, and a Systematic Human Error Reduction and Prediction Approach (SHERPA) with a view to assessing the relative performance of the devices and identifying a set of credible use errors against which the three devices could be tested during the user trials. For the user trials, 66 participants were tested, split over three geographical locations within Great Britain.

Benefits to the client 

The results of the study provided our client with data with which to strongly market their device on the grounds of superior usability. We also co-authored a technical paper for this study for publication in the BMC Pulmonary Medicine Journal and Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery.

We were also involved earlier in the development process by supporting our client with the Instructions for Use (IFU) design.

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