IDEXX Ensures Usability of Hand Held Touchscreen Product
IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. is a leader in pet healthcare innovation, serving practicing veterinarians around the world with a broad range of diagnostic and information technology-based products and services. IDEXX products enhance the ability of veterinarians to provide advanced medical care, to improve staff efficiency and to build more economically successful practices. IDEXX is also a worldwide leader in providing diagnostic tests and information for the production animal industry and tests for the quality and safety of water and milk. Headquartered in Maine, IDEXX Laboratories employs more than 4,500 people and offers products to customers in over 100 countries.
IDEXX wanted to ensure the user experience of a brand new product, the Catalyst Dx™ Chemistry Analyzer, was optimized for speed and ease of use. Not only did the design team need to understand how users interact with the touch screen software, but they also needed to understand interaction with the analyzer hardware itself. This required a unique approach to their research study.
First, they needed a way to prototype early designs of the touch screen interface in order to facilitate an iterative design process with the project team and to test real user interaction. Using development resources to create prototypes was too expensive. The design team needed a more efficient and fasterway to create the prototypes.
Second, in order to conduct usability testing with the early prototypes, the IDEXX User Experience Team (UX Team) needed a solution that could record user interactions with the interface and again during later testing with the product including the interactions with the machine. It would need to capture all the feedback, both human and system activity so it could be studied and analyzed later. It was also critical that designers and other stakeholders had the option to observe the usability testing sessions as they happened to get first-hand insight to where participants were successful and where they faced challenges.
IDEXX chose to build the prototypes using Axure RP, a wireframing, prototyping, and specification tool. IDEXX was able to create and evolve mid-fidelity prototypes and test out design ideas. The interactive prototype helped them to collaborate with stakeholders and elicit feedback. Axure RP enabled the design team to quickly build interactive prototypes, and make changes based on usability testing results prior to any coding.
IDEXX selected TechSmith’s Morae as their usability testing solution. With Morae, the IDEXX UX Team was able to iteratively test as the design evolved. Using Morae helped the team identify and understand user interaction and workflow issues early. Once the product was built, the team was able to follow up with final testing of the touch screen and hardware interaction to get a complete understanding of the user experience. Morae was used to record all the sessions while also making it possible for the product managers and development teams to observe the sessions.
The usability testing-both during design and after production-enabled IDEXX to make observations about user interaction that were important to the development of the user experience. The benefits of prototyping with Axure RP and conducting usability tests with Morae made it possible to make designs changes quickly so IDEXX could create a better product and still deliver it to market on time.
According to, Anestes Fotiades, IDEXX Manager of User Experience, "iterative prototyping with Axure was central to our interaction design process." Moreover, the product team was much more confident in the design when it came time to implement the code. Fotiades went on to say, "the Axure prototype combined with Morae worked very well to enable us to test the design early and often. The feedback loop from users is very important to IDEXX’s new product development process." Moving forward the product teams are committed to prototyping and usability testing to mitigate the risk of translating customer needs incorrectly as they implement new features in the product designs.