User Interface Architect & Researcher Intern
August 2021 – December 2021
During my internship with NASA (Johnson Space Center) I performed human factors tasks within the Exploration Medical Capabilities Element’s (ExMC) systems engineering team.
IMPACT is composed of several subsystems that work together to quantify the effects that a potential human health and performance capability could have on crew health outcomes. Out of the five different software suites, I focused on IMPACT Run and Tableau.
In previous usability studies, users have had difficulty navigating through IMPACT software. The human factor’s team was tasked with making the software system more user-friendly through the use of A/B testing and UI design.
My solution involved redesigning the user interfaces for IMPACT Run and Tableau and A/B testing those designs with the original user interface. I worked alongside a developer to ensure functionality and a human factors researcher for testing.
Overall, we discovered which areas were the most confusing to users, what design users preferred, which features they wished were included, and how to make the software more user-friendly. We presented our results to the development team, and suggestions will be implemented. Our A/B testing allowed developers to better understand user frustrations, explore how to make the software better, and obtain ideas for new and useful features. Through this project, I gained valuable experience with setting up an A/B test, analyzing data, working with a development team, and designing with limitations.
Tableau visualizes the results of selected studies and runs in the form of graphics, tables, and charts for further analysis. On the landing page, users select which studies, runs, and visualization type they would like to view. Once a selection has been made, the software displays visual data and the user can make their analysis.
Note: IMPACT Tableau designs were not able to undergo A/B testing before the end of my internship. However, I helped create the test plan and prototype.
IMPACT is composed of several subsystems that work together to quantify the effects that a potential human health and performance capability could have on crew health outcomes.
Design guidelines are important user interface requirements that help keep a project’s design consistent and unified. Since IMPACT did not already have a document like this, I started one.
Design documents like this take a while to complete, but I believe I provided a foundation to be added to, as I was able to finish the color guidelines and start the guidelines on iconography. For color, I developed a primary color palette, primary shades, a neutral palette for background colors, and a semantic palette for success, warning, and error colors. I checked these colors through a color blindness simulator to ensure accessibility. I also defined color theory terms, provided use cases, and created visual examples of how each color can be used.
This document resulted in written down color guidelines for all IMPACT software. Use of these guidelines will improve visual consistency across all IMPACT software. Consistency is important for IMPACT because there are many different subsystems. According to NASA’s Human Integration Design Processes, consistent interfaces are easier to learn, train, improve reaction time and multi-tasking, and decrease error rates. This document started with color, but additions can be made for other UI elements for the project.
Through this project, I gained valuable experience in starting a design system document. This knowledge will greatly assist me with my future career, as most projects/companies use a design system.
The Foundation Long Duration Concept of Operations is a model that provides information about medical care needs that will be used to guide the development of a medical system for the cis-lunar orbital and lunar surface operations. This medical system will serve as the precursor to the system that is implemented in future exploration missions to Mars. The concept of operations documents an overview of the stakeholder needs and system goals of a medical system and provides examples of the types of activities for which the system will be used during the mission.
The team needed user input on icons for the system. Previous research displayed inconclusive results, so I was tasked to continue the work.
I created an icon study test plan, scheduled participants, analyzed user feedback, and started to define user personas. In my test plan, I included out-of-context icon testing, in-context icon ranking, and interview questions.
Due to time constraints and participant availability, I was only able to test a couple of users and determine preliminary results. In the future, more users will need to be tested, so I created a continuity document for the next person to easily pick up the study. This document includes my test plan, testing script, usability notes, potential participants, points of contact, and advice for next steps. The purpose of this continuity document is to provide useful information so that the next person to continue my work has an in-depth understanding of what I did and how to move forward.
This project will be very beneficial when I am creating other studies in the future. For example, I now have more knowledge in identifying sampling criteria, determining sample size, creating interview scripts, verification and validation of interview questions, and data collection methods.
The systems engineering SharePoint site is actively used by the SE team and others for file storage and other tasks.
The current systems engineering SharePoint has information that is not used by the team, can take an excessive amount of time to find content, and is missing content that would be useful to team members when performing tasks. Also, the systems engineering team is conscious of their digital footprint and regularly identifies how to reduce the digital space they are using on servers.
In this project, I worked with another intern to develop a site map, propose content changes, determine SharePoint goals, reduce the site’s digital space, mockup design ideas, talked to a SharePoint developer about feasibility, and created a continuity document.
We were able to discuss with the systems engineering team about our ideas and concerns to determine next steps and goals for the SharePoint. However, discussion is not over, so we have created a continuity document and next steps that the team can use when they are ready to change the SharePoint design. We decided to move toward a tile format (to be aligned with the design of other HRP sites) design, use an external server to store archived documents and use simple icons throughout the design.
This project taught me a lot about content organization and will help me in the future when redesigning interfaces that hold a lot of content and has users with a diverse set of needs.