Systems Analysis, Design and Engineering
Systems in the real world are made up of hardware and software as well as the people who use them. The engineering process must account for how people fit into the equation in order to achieve the overall system's goals.
Alion's expertise in man-machine interfaces stems from both theoretical understanding and real-world experience. As a result, we employ a user-centered design process to ensure that the user is not an afterthought, but an integrated component working in concert with the system. We consider the human factors in the earliest stages of the design, where the greatest benefit to performance and operating cost can be achieved.
Usability - an Engineered Approach
Ultimately, the success of a user-computer interface depends on adhering to a few basic principles including:
- Designing the system around the needs of the target users
- Evaluating the system from the user’s point of view, not the designers or developers
- Incorporating user feedback to improve the system.
These principles have led us to a design approach that includes the following steps:
- Define goals of the system and its interface along with measures of success
- Understand the tasks required from the user’s perspective
- Develop architecture and interface standards that reflect the needs of the users and successes of the past, but modify standards as the need becomes apparent
- Prototype early with details of screen flow and response alternatives embedded into the prototype
- Test with users at every opportunity and measure success with respect to system goals as well as direct measures of interface success (e.g., time to navigate, errors)
- Modify the design and plan future iterations
We have consistently found that the more we can work within this design philosophy, the more effective we can make the user-computer interface.
Alion engineers have developed a number of software tools for modeling and analyzing workstation interfaces, crew station design and overall workflow environment. Our exclusive technologies include Micro Saint® Sharp and IPME™.