Complex GUI design is a science, not an art.
It is our mission to provide our clients with the specialized human factors engineering research and GUI design expertise required to deliver highly useable and compelling user interface design solutions to their users.
We define a complex GUI problem as any interaction with a screen-based system that places significant cognitive demands on users based on operational complexity and/or risk-taking behaviors. It is a fact that few interactive agencies offering services in UI design have the necessary skill set or track record to create GUI solutions for complex software applications that have verifiable levels of usability and high user adoption.
Based on over 40 years of experience with complex software GUI programs it is our mission is to provide leading corporate entities, government agencies and start ups with the specialized human factors engineering research and GUI design expertise required to deliver highly useable and compelling user interface design solutions to their demanding users. Our experience includes GUI solutions running at the heart of the world-economy and at the core of some of the world’s leading high-technology companies. We have experience in many critical industry sectors including: financial services, medical systems, aerospace, process control, and media and military application areas as well as consumer and transportation systems.
We employ an industry-proven and proprietary user-centered design (UCD) methodology focused specifically on identifying user needs and producing software GUI solutions that meet those needs through objective science-based user testing. As practiced by MUS, UCD is not a buzzword but a fully operational and audited GUI development methodology based on over 40 years of experience. Our methods are based on an extensive set of SOPs that undergo yearly audit and frequent updating.
In order to deliver effective solutions to demanding users and customers we employ a structured, science-based approach that integrates professional human factors research with screen-based interaction design to provide you with GUI solutions that meet special needs of the most demanding user profiles. Our approach integrates industry-leading and rigorous professional usability testing with structured user needs analysis based on cognitive task analysis and information foraging theory. This combination of research focus with creative interface design expertise has provided clients with a measure of risk mitigation and confidence that allows large software programs to remain on schedule with critical features that deliver objective value to users and customers. A critical aspect of how we work is to aid clients in making the proper trade-off between cognitive complexity and programing complexity. At the heart of this critical development is function allocation analysis based on human factors engineering research.
All major complex GUI programs are based on the application of professional human factors engineering research applied during all phase of your program. It is important to note that any methodology that fails to be appropriately rigorous yet suitably flexible will always put critical projects at risk. The following content is a simple description of our complex GUI design development process model employed by MUS in hundreds of successful programs. The weighting of each phase of work and related deliverable differs based on your needs, budget and development priorities.
Drawing on the methods and tools from the formal management sciences, we offer clients research and development of formal business objectives. During this effort, we employ proprietary data gathering methods aimed at identifying and interpreting your underlying business objectives—those objectives that are critical to creating effective solutions.
Making assumptions about your user needs without confirming them through professionally executed needs analysis is the shortest path to failure in complex user interface design programs. We employ a wide range of research methodologies to identify and verify the needs of your user.
What is “simple”? How many times have you read a product specification that states as a primary objective “the interface must be as simple as possible for the user population”? Without objective human performance criteria, this is a meaningless statement. Human performance criteria create a framework for formal usability and customer satisfaction testing during critical phases of development. The criteria we develop are always mapped against hard business objectives to be certain that your customer experience optimization strategy is based on real business goals and objectives.
It is well known that every touch point that your customers have with your product or service impacts their decision to be acquired, retained, and migrated. Task analysis drills deeply into the cognitive processes and needs of your customers and helps define a cognitive model of the customers’ decision making process and conceptualization of task structure. The data from the task analysis is used to develop psychologically meaningful features and functions and create a design which simplifies and enhances the customer experience.
A common problem with complex user interface development programs is the tendency to move too quickly to interface design solutions. Without taking time to develop the appropriate functional attributes, you can end up with a design which may look engaging, but lacks a solid relationship with the underlying cognitive model of the user populations. As a core component of our user interface design services, we offer development teams a structured approach which applies proven research and development methods to define the functional interaction design of the interface. This process ensures you will have a solid design foundation on which to apply visual and graphic design.
The visual design of your screen-based interface will have a major impact on how your system is perceived by customers and users. This first impression is an important component of building an effective and strong interactive brand for your system. However, achieving high levels of visual design performance requires a clear understanding of how visual style impacts both usability and brand attributes conveyance (See related report from Forrester). Our structured methods provide the desired visual design attributes without sacrificing usability and brand conveyance. We offer clients a full range of visual design services including production of all critical graphic elements for complex interfaces and supporting, pixel-level production documentation.
The rush to create code is a major problem in most complex user interface design programs. For our methodology, we create robust simulations of complex interfaces to visualize and investigate the impact that a given functional interface concept will have on both user performance and satisfaction. The simulation phase is a critical component of all successful UID programs because it allows for earlier testing with key stakeholders and user profiles, significantly reducing the risk of project failure.
The critical question in the development of effective screen-based user interfaces is how to understand and support only those aspects of the user interaction that require training support and help. Until late in the development cycle, this problem is often overlooked by development teams. This often leads to poor acceptance of beta releases and cost overruns. A complex user interface that does not properly support user training needs can place high demands on call center volume resulting in increased costs and complexity. We offer clients extensive support in training needs definition used for the development of complete online tutorials and help systems. This service is often combined with our special expertise in usability testing of instructional materials and training system.
We have collaborated with and provided effective GUI solutions for some of the world’s most demanding users and customers including the most successful traders on Wall Street, leading surgeons, process control operators in high-risk settings, hedge fund managers, military personnel, lawyers, manufacturing control teams, and executives among others. Our methodologies involve formal user needs analysis, function allocation research and structured in-depth executive and user interviews. It is also important to state clearly what we do not do. We do not employ low-utility research methods such as “Design Thinking”, we do not fill conference room walls with sticky notes, and we do not allow users to design your GUI…that is our task and we take it seriously.
We are platform / device agnostic focused on creative and effective delivery of features and functions across devices to produce performance-verified usability solutions in many industry verticals and product and service categories.
We have a wide range of expertise in the design and testing of complex consumer GUI products across a significant range of industry sectors. We are especially effective with more complex consumer UX.UI.GUI mobile interfaces that require rigorous HFE methods and related testing.
We have deep experience in commercial complex GUI design and user testing programs. We have extensive knowledge designing and testing for complex high-risk user interfaces for commercial applications. This work extends to mobile UX design and testing in complex and harsh environments.
We are experts in conducting complex GUI design and usability research for heavy industrial applications that range from equipment and operator workstation display design to large-scale production optimization programs. Our expertise in this area spans both GUI, mobile and workstation design.
We are best known for combining rigorous, science-based user testing and research with GUI design expertise to solve complex medical interface design problems. Click here to view our special section on Medical Product Optimization.
Founded in 1975, we have a long and proven history creating solutions to complex GUI design problems for demanding user profiles in leading industry sectors. We were the first U.S. consulting user interface design firm to employ professional human factors engineering research to the design of user interfaces for both hardware and software applications (1975). We created the first formal usability-testing laboratory in 1976 and the first rigorous HFE testing methodology in 1979.
Fixed Platform UI.UX.GUI
We were present at the founding of the first consumer GUI and have been responsible for a wide range of high-performance UI.UX.GUI solutions. Our success ranges from the design of the trading systems used on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to social media solutions for small children.
Mobile Platform UI.UX.GUI
Mobile application UI.UX.GUI design is more than simply scaling content using a cookie-cutter responsive algorithm. Mobile interface design requires a detailed understanding of the special cognitive processes involved in manipulation of visually constrained content and functions. We know this space and related cognitive science well.
Sub-miniature UI.UX.GUI is a specialized category of mobile interfaces. These solutions require both knowledge of human information processing but also a keen awareness of when to adhere to interface stereotypes and when to move complex GUI design to innovative and creative solutions. We have a long-standing reputation in this design space.
Virtual Reality UI.UX.GUI
For clients attempting to navigate this complex, and for the most part, amazing new dimension of UI.UX.GUI design we offer user testing and optimization methods which offer deep insights into the psychological and physiological underpinnings of VR user experiences.
A methodology that fails to be appropriately rigorous yet suitably flexible will always put a critical project at risk.
What separates us from other firms are our specialized methods based on our deep experience in intellectual property, professional human factors engineering and user testing.
We have a reputation for creating and formalizing advanced testing methodologies that offer insights and actionable recommendations that go well beyond what is normally provided by standard user testing programs provided by others. The following is a brief description of the neuroscience-based methods we combine to produce robust research in complex GUI programs.
Galvanic Skin Response — A data stream utilized to measure the intensity of users’ innate emotional responses to interface design, complexity, and design concepts as they interact with an actual or simulated interface design solution. It contributes insights that users frequently cannot articulate using traditional interview methods and is typically used in combination with other methodologies.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) — Widely promoted as a means of assessing consumer response to all manner of interface design solutions, this system offers insight into users’ higher-level cognitive processes as they interact with the interface or view design solutions in various media. This method can produce critical insights into cognitive workload associated with use of a UID and can be utilized in conjunction with eye-tracking data for more robust insights.
High-Resolution Eye Tracking — A data stream that provides insights into how the user attends to the visual aspects of an interface design solution, in real time. Combined with other forms of data capture, it imparts robust insights into the visual attention differences between design concepts that impact user behavior and acceptance. This method can be utilized in lab-based settings, as well as “in the wild” data capture, in which case the process utilizes specialized data-capture glasses. Eye-tracking is common in traditional studies, but application of ET findings into a larger data stream has produced a new way to utilize those insights.
Facial Expression Analysis (Emotional Response) — An artificial intelligence-based system for capturing the expressed emotional responses of users viewing or interacting with interface design solutions. It allows for deep and compelling insights into which features and/or combinations of features in a design solution elicit expressed facial emotions.
Automated Task / Usability Heuristics — A data capture and professional audit system and related observational tool that yields highly detailed data on the time, errors, and confusion present when a user interacts with a given interface design solution. The system is fashioned to produce usability testing insights for use in design optimization and can be utilized to identify performance problems captured in prior HFE studies that are known to produce errors and confusion, thus allowing for removal of such design features during early design development. The system is based on creation of a database of device design HFE performance ratings correlated with interface design features.
Learning Transfer Analysis — A data capture system designed to determine whether changes to a design or related interface are going to have major negative impact on previous users of the system. Combined with other data streams, it reveals which interface design changes will have negative, neutral, or positive impact on a given design solution.
Cognitive Workload Analysis — Software-based data capture systems that allow for the calculation of the cognitive workload associated with understanding and use of interfaces by specific user groups. It provides objective measurement of how much cognitive effort design solutions require on the part of users during various, critical interaction sequences, or simply when viewing the design solution without interaction.
Information Foraging Theory / Behavior Modeling — A data capture and behavior modeling system that allows for the creation of software-based predictive models of user behavior, based on input from other data capture systems discussed above. It provides a rapid means of assessing the relative impact that design solutions will have on users’ ability to locate, integrate, and take action on critical content, features, or functions without creating complex physical models, simulations, or test setups.
Interactive Online Surveys and Subjective Response System — An extensive array of online data capture systems based on professionally audited and tested survey tools that integrate seamlessly into the data capture streams discussed above. The system utilizes a combination of industry-standard and proprietary question sets, ranking systems, and scales to capture subjective response to design solutions in a range of research settings. The system can be utilized to support design concept testing.
Data Stream Integration System — The data capture modalities discussed above individually produce massive amounts of real-time data. When the data streams are combined, they impart truly staggering amounts of data, which require specialized data integration and data analysis tools. Working with industry-leading data integration supported by development of proprietary software integration systems, these new systems form a critical bridge between data and insights.
Data Clipping, Scrubbing, And Data Analysis System — Due to the complex nature of the data integration streams required to execute robust evaluations, it is necessary to utilize advanced data clipping, scrubbing, and statistical analysis routines. To solve this problem, there are proprietary data capture and analysis tools that allow for effective execution of the complex statistical analysis required to provide clients with reliable design research suitable for making major corporate investments in specific design solutions or directions. The data stream aggregation tool interfaces with audited and industry-standard advanced statistical software systems.
Our experience covers UI.UX.GUI design and human factors performance verification for a wide range of user profiles and industry sectors. Below are brief descriptions of a variety of our areas of expertise and previous relevant experience.
We have conducted rigorous human factors engineering research and developed complex mobile and fixed UI design solutions for some of the most demanding environments including the design of all initial primary mobile device interfaces used on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. This work included extensive professional human factors engineering research, task analysis, UI design, simulation development and formal user testing programs for a wide range of user profiles. The UI design solutions provided by MUS were verified through independent usability testing and met or exceeded business and usability objectives. Several of these solutions dramatically improved the efficiency of the NYSE trading floor processes by reducing trading errors, reducing training time and decreasing trade execution time. A major award from the Association of Computing Machines (ACM) for outstanding contributions to the design of a complex mobile UI solution recognized this work. Mobile solutions created by MUS have been adopted by numerous NYSE member firms and are included in several patents filed by such firms. Numerous core features of these interfaces have been adopted on trading floors around the world.
Numerous UI design solutions created by MUS have been awarded extensive utility patents by the USPTO and other global patent entities. These patents have, in some instances, become primary references for entire industries that are optimized around screen-based UI design solutions. Senior members of the firm have testified as experts in leading GUI design patent litigation. We have represented leading high-technology companies in complex litigation matters. We have worked with many of the most successful law firms in the U.S. and abroad. We have a detailed working knowledge of IP matters related to GUI innovations covering both patent prosecution and litigation.
The centerpiece of all successful AGILE software development projects is the rapid development of critical user needs to be followed by reliable feedback from users during each sprint. Based on your project needs, we combine our research methodologies (described above) to create a specialized AGILE user testing program to provide development teams with critical expertise and feedback during even the most aggressive sprints. These services have proven highly effective in dramatically reducing the risk present in AGILE development projects.
Many successful UI design solutions require a detailed professional knowledge of cognitive processes and physical ergonomics. The special biomechanical properties and anthropometric limitations of the human system can determine the effectiveness of man-machine interface solutions. In projects that combine physical hardware design with screen-based UI design, we offer clients a proven track record in physical ergonomics and biomechanics. This expertise is especially important in UI design projects, in which hardware and software interfaces must be optimized as unified components.
We are unique in our ability to integrate professional human factors engineering with functional interface design, user testing, and visual interface design. Whether you are seeking a flat graphic or highly skeuomorphic visual design, we have both the expertise and history to deliver a final UI visual design solution that is aligned with the brand attributes and visual design objectives of your company or entity.
Unlike other UI design firms that may simply follow the latest design trend, we do not believe that there is one visual style (i.e. flat graphic or skeuomorphic) that is appropriate for all client UI design solutions. Therefore, we routinely conduct A/B testing for clients related to the selection and refinement of the visual design style that is most appropriate for your company’s brand image and customer preferences. To that end, we have conducted many large-sample comparative studies on visual style during development, and know from these research efforts that simply applying the visual design style currently in vogue can and does have a significant negative impact on the perception of your product by key customer profiles in the marketplace. We offer all UI design clients visual design testing during development. We also have a record of adhering tightly to preexisting corporate visual design guidelines when so directed by clients.
Over the past 20 years, we have executed trading system UI design programs for several of the world’s primary markets and market makers, including major projects for The New York Stock Exchange, Goldman Sachs, Trading Technologies, Inc., WitCapital/Soundview, and other leading financial institutions. We have financial trading systems experience covering all phases of high-performance UI development including, usability research, business objectives development, needs analysis, task analysis, trading floor ethnography, and cognitive modeling of high-risk decision making. We have developed high-performance UI trading solutions for a wide range of profiles including hedge funds, equity trade desks, futures and numerous other asset classes. In addition to our experience creating solutions for professional traders, we have extensive experience analyzing and developing consumer online FSI systems including home banking, trading, and financial planning. Our trading solutions are running at the heart of the world economy.
A primary business problem all large media companies face today is how to successfully migrate their traditional media properties to the 4 interconnected and increasingly transparent delivery platforms of TV, Web, Mobile, and Virtual. We have worked with the world’s most successful media companies to design and execute cross-platform usability and user experience studies that address this difficult customer “engagement” problem. Our research methods have proven effective in helping major media companies understand and optimize their migration to successful new media business models.
Online gaming and virtual reality are two of the primary forces of the “NEW” new media. Avatar-based interfaces allow customers to play in synthetic environments, creating a staggering opportunity for those who understand the psychological impact and the primary customer experience design challenges. Effective and reliable research in the virtual reality and gaming arena drives success. At MauroNewMedia, we have pioneered research programs for some of the largest gaming and virtual world commercial projects in recent history. Using these new methods for conducting research in gaming and virtual worlds, we have developed a deep understanding of user and avatar behaviors and the related functions that drive deep immersion and expand in-world social networking participation. Our research services have been used extensively to answer critical user experience questions related to how customers respond to gaming and virtual world interfaces.
Understanding your user profiles (personas) is critical to understanding how to create and support a successful product or service. For more than 25 years, we have created complex user profiles for a wide range of products and services, ranging from personas for cancer patients to brokers executing trades on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. In all of these projects, we employ a combination of professional user testing, observational research, and interview methodologies to develop interactive persona solutions that combine the latest data with the most appropriate and reliable research methods.
The following project thumbnails cover high-profile and other relevant program experience.
In a multi-year engagement, MUS executed business-critical human factors engineering research and complex user interface design programs resulting in the creation of a new generation of screen-based (fixed and hand-held) trading systems that dramatically improved trading performance, reduced training time and reduced errors. Solutions verified by independent usability testing. Core concepts implemented by other major exchanges and trading platforms worldwide. MUS received Interactions Design award from Association of Computing Machines for this effort.
Conducted multi-year longitudinal usability testing and UX optimization research for multiple primary MTV media properties. Applied advanced cognitive modeling methods in optimization of teen interactions with new media sites.
Conducted extensive research in global financial service markets related to complex futures spread trading behaviors. Developed high-performance trading interfaces which resulted in production of multiple utility patents for GUI design.
In a multi-year engagement, executed international UX design, usability research and user engagement optimization programs for Citibank online services. Reported to the highest levels of the bank including Office of the Chairman. Developed primary interaction framework for Citibank home banking utilized on a global basis. Conceptualized and developed large internal teams of subject matter experts, HFE staff and related testing facilities. Citibank online customer experience rated number one on a global basis during period of involvement.
Conducted extensive competitive UX analysis of 32 MP3 players benchmarked against new entrant to the market. Produced robust cognitive model of UX performance impact on purchase decisions covering player/online music service combinations. Accurately predicted demise of MP3 player market based on UX performance of new entrant.
In a multi-year effort, MNM executed complex human factors engineering research and workstation / user interface design programs resulting in creation of new generation of mission control centers for NASA Space Shuttle operations. Solutions resulted in verified improvements in critical launch information display and operator mission management including cross-training and task sharing functions. Solution propagated to Shuttle operations centers on a global basis. MNM received NASA Special Service Citation for this effort.
In numerous multi-year engagements, MNM conducted complex human factors engineering research and product design programs for leading medical and pharmaceutical entities covering imaging systems, drug delivery devices, emergency care / ICU systems and surgical devices with a focus on both software driven, screen-based interfaces and hardware configurations. MNM has executed large sample formative and summative studies for FDA approval. MNM received the Alexander C. Williams Award / Human Factors and Ergonomics Society for medical systems design.
MNM has provided consulting and testifying expert services for design patent, utility patent, trade dress and copyright matters covering GUI design and product design. We have participated in over 75 major cases on behalf of the world’s most successful high-technology companies and work routinely with leading law firms. We speak at major IP conferences and are on the planning board for USPTO conferences. Mr. Mauro was the first design/research professional invited to speak at the UC Berkeley Federal Judicial Center training seminar for federal judges. The firm has provided critical content for a number of recent high-profile amicus briefs related to design patent rulings at the Federal Circuit. We have also taken a leading role in production of one of the high-profile briefs for SCOTUS in Apple v. Samsung.
Created first high-performance online trading platform for consumer applications. Produced comprehensive portfolio management and trading interface that optimized consumer’s ability to visualize rapid changes in market conditions and to reduce risk. Design resulted in award of seminal GUI trading system patent cited in all major trading GUI cases and prior art references. Key innovations present in many trading platforms in use today.
Executed research and design programs involving transfer of desktop functions to app-based environments and creation of new app-based products. Specialized experience with cross-platform media consumption and deep content navigation in app interfaces. Executed usability and UX/UI interface design programs covering financial services, gaming, music, e-com and other major industry sectors.
Created tablet-based UI framework for use in tracking asset variance based on freshness of data and projected asset value models. Produced new highly interactive data visualization UI framework for rapidly exploring complex data sets and improved asset management and board-level decision-making. Created robust simulations and related data presentation schemes.
Executed cognitive task analysis and detailed ergonomic research programs related to optimization of wearable products and UI design configurations for a wide range of devices. Executed important early research on the complexity of wearable interfaces and provided detailed methodology for interaction simplification through application of transfer-of-learning concepts and related human factors engineering principles.
Based on execution of detailed competitive market and product analysis covering UX design innovations in the music technology sector, created a strategic UX innovation framework for addressing dramatic increases in competition brought about by a new major entrant to the online music technology space. Proposed to top management realignment of strategic thinking related to experience optimization of core products and services. Proposed robust user-centered development methodology for increasing competitiveness on a global scale.
MauroNewMedia has an unparalleled history in mobile UX / UI design including early work on display pagers, emergency radios, PDAs, cellphone, tablets and smartphone interfaces. Our solutions have contributed to some of the most successful mobile products in history. We have served as consulting and testifying experts for the world’s leading mobile product companies. Today we continue to consult on new mobile products and related services including apps, for which UX performance is business-critical.
Created specialized sub-miniature, personalized online banking security device that allows for complex highly secure financial transactions through interaction with 2-line display UI.
Executed detailed task analysis of trading functions on floor of NYSE over 3 month period. Developed hardware/display design configuration for first successful hand-held trading systems used on floor of NYSE. Development focused on cognitive and biomechanical aspects of hand-held device design. Produced simulations and executed user verification testing of device configurations. Solutions employed as templates for HHD device design.
Conducted global market research audit of UX configurations for 350+ cellphones and smartphones. Identified trends in UX configurations and interaction frameworks based on OS functionality and market size / penetration. Developed detailed UX optimization strategy for cellphone and smartphone market based on current and projected trends in UX behaviors and modes of use.
Executed complex projects focused specifically on optimization of hand-held products and related applications. Have undertaken extensive HFE analysis, design and testing of hand-held product design applications covering trading interfaces, surgical devices, drug delivery devices and hand controls (many applications). Clients include: Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Pfizer and other leading entities.
Have undertaken complex projects in the process control industry: paper and sheet material production, electric power generation (fossil and nuclear), mining, large-scale pumping applications and telecommunications. Field research has included work with represented workers in several industry sectors. Clients include: Weir Minerals, Louisiana Power and Light, New Jersey Power and Light, ABB Accuray and others.
Executed product design projects related to emergency systems including hardware and software applications. Experience includes communications devices, event tracking systems and displays (fixed and display-based), injury support devices and related hardware and emergency HFE process design. Clients include: Motorola, ADT, AT&T, Ebasco Services and other entities.