Case Studies

Bringing Consumer Safety Online

case_Illus_bar1The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) needed a friendly and effective site for both reporting and discovery of harmful products. WBA combined focus groups with hands-on usability testing of prototypes to deliver a roadmap for successful implementation.

Congress required CPSC to create a searchable database of thousands of reports of harm from consumer products reported each year. Feedback from key target audiences on the proposed reporting forms was needed to help improve the database and user interface design. Specific research objectives included answers to:

  • Whether each form includes every useful data field, including data fields specific to each profession, and in the optimal sequence;
  • Whether each ensured data integrity;
  • How long it takes to complete each form and the percentage drop-off from users who fail to complete each form, as well as the relationship between those two variables;
  • Whether the public reporting form adequately supports minors completing a form on behalf of a consenting adult; and
  • Whether the forms support users who prefer to complete the forms in languages other than English.

WBA conducted a series of focus groups among consumers, professionals (health professionals, child service providers, public safety officials, and government users) and consumer product manufacturers. The focus groups were conducted at a computer laboratory so participants could submit a sample product safety report on the public database prototype. They then discussed their experience, screen by screen, identifying both features they found helpful and any problems.

In the first three-month period after site launch, more than 305,000 visits and 1,600 product safety incidents had been reported by consumers, public safety officials and health care professionals, while visitors made 1.8 million product searches.

Program Highlights

  • Hands-on use of site prototype
  • Simultaneous focus groups
  • Consumers
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Public Safety Officials
  • Extensive testing of field sequence
  • Determination of optimal length for completion