Identifying your userbase and their needs will help you balance the form and function of your technology. Your userbase may present unique challenges, and experts recommend design thinking for tackling tough problems when working through a bold idea. Engaging in design thinking, a creative, human-centered methodology, will help you more fully understand and communicate how your idea or technology will be used in its intended market.

Using design-thinking principles and standards-based principles will help you make better-informed decisions early in the commercialization process, shortening development time and saving you money.


  • Identify your user, then gain full understanding of the user experience through observation and interaction–you will have to consider the user experience in light of national and/or international standards for usability. Gather this information through methods such as one-on-one interviews or focus groups.
  • Based on initial user experience observations, develop a user profile that will guide decision making as you design your technology. Create a statement that definitively expresses the problem you seek to address with your technology.
  • Explore a wide variety of possible solutions by brainstorming potential concepts and outcomes, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and examine a range of ideas. The goal is to explore a wide solution space, both in the quantity and diversity of ideas.
  • Develop a prototype so that you can experience and interact with your technology. An early prototype can be anything that takes a physical form, such as a clay model, a 3D print, a wall of sticky notes, a role-playing activity, a space, an object, a user interface, or a storyboard.
  • Try out minimally viable products with users and collect observations and feedback to refine your prototype, learn more about the user, and refine your original concept. Adjust the product, pricing, or positioning accordingly.



The Stanford Design School provides a virtual crash course in design thinking that includes visuals, handouts, and facilitation tools.

The Design of Business | The Business of Design

The Design of Business | The Business of Design is a podcast recorded at the Yale School of Management discussing how design shapes decisions, products, and more.

U.S. Usability Standards

The U.S. Food and Drug Association developed a guidance document to assist industry in following appropriate human factors and usability engineering processes to maximize the likelihood that new medical devices will be safe and effective for the intended users, uses, and use environments.

International Usability Standards

The International Standards Organization developed a guidance document to evaluate the usability of a medical device as it relates to safety.


MaRS provides venture services to support healthcare innovators to identify that will move them in the right direction towards commercialization.

Small Company Innovation Program

The Michigan Corporate Relations Network Small Company Innovation Program, funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, provides one-to-one matching funds up to $40,000 to Michigan small businesses to help cover the cost of conducting research projects at any Michigan public university.