A Comparative Study of Product Usability and Ergonomic Assessment of Server Lifts
This paper provides an overview of the process of evaluating competing products from the perspectives of human factors and ergonomics, safety considerations, overall usability, and design characteristics. The project was conducted by faculty and students at a major university in U.S. and the product in question was a lift that is used for installation of servers in data centers. We conducted an in-depth study of three competing products on the basis of a series of criteria that were determined before the project was started. We developed a methodology for observation, testing and evaluation for the products, and in this paper, we will discuss the results of our study. In addition to the analysis, we also created a series of design recommendations for product development that built upon our findings. While this paper focuses on the specific case study of server lifts, the learnings from this study could have wide applications in terms of the methodology of how to evaluate the competitive products, how to develop test regimens, how to conduct observations to test usability, how to conduct analysis, and how to make recommendations. While there is a clear impact of this study in industry, it can also have value in education in helping students understand how to test competitive products, and how to learn from the testing to design their products for the future.