Human Factors Engineering (HFE) Compliance Self-Certification


VHA Health Informatics Human Factors Engineering (HFE) staff developed the Self-Certification Program to allow project teams to bring “usability thinking” and planning to earlier stages of mobile applications (apps) development. It will free up HFE to work with app developers at the beginning of the development cycles (when the impact is greater), resulting in a better user experience for Veterans and clinicians.

A well-designed application allows the user to easily and intuitively complete tasks, without having to learn new conventions, or to think about where to find information or how to operate the app. The Self-Certification process allows project teams to certify that their apps meet usability criteria. An app that is efficient, effective and satisfying to the user will likely be used more often and not abandoned after the limited use.

What is assessed?

A compliance review of an app is composed of two primary parts: the Mobile User Interface (UI) Design Certification (UI Cert) and the Heuristic Evaluation (HE). The UI Cert is performed by comparing the app against a criteria list of key design standards and documenting any deviations, along with a severity rating. The HE is performed by reviewing an app, while being mindful of 10 industry standard heuristics, and assigning a severity rating to issues that violate those standards.

Supporting documentation for the Self-Certification process is posted on the link below, under "References."

What is the process?

  • Project teams refer to the HFE UI Design Criteria and Heuristic Standards when the app is at the beginning stages of development, such as requirements analysis, and incorporate the best practices into the app design. A link to the criteria and standards appears below, under "References."
  • Project teams can incorporate Usability Testing during the development of the app. Contact HFE to inquire about the testing services. A link to the HFE website appears below (under "References") and contains contact information.
  • After the app has had a completed OI&T Verification and Validation (V&V) review and been approved to move forward for the final Mobile Health certifying body reviews, project teams download the HFE Self-Certification materials and commence with their UI Design Compliance Review.