Usability Testing Process Blog

Are microwaves really user friendly?

In this sprint, myself and 2 other group members conducted a usability test on microwaves. We asked 3 current University of Washington freshman to be users for our test. We asked them to complete a series of tasks such as opening and closing the microwave door, using the preset buttons, and inputting a specific cooking time. Data collected consisted of completion time, error rates, and the users rating of difficulty on a scale of 1–7. This test proved to show that microwaves are quite convenient and simple to use.

My group and I first brainstormed the different ideas for what tasks to have and what data to collect.
We also were able to share our ideas with another group, where we received and gave input on our usability tests.

Why does this matter?

This process has helped me put research into action. I was able to learned and do the whole process, from creating the test to comparing the data at the end. I began to learn about how users need specific instructions or else your data is at risk of being invalid.

I also was able to see how the users we choose hold a large impact on the data. One of my group members, a Chinese international student, said she has struggled her first time using a microwave. However, when our international student user completed the tasks, he did it with ease, without difficulty.

This project was very eye opening to how simple yet complex the whole testing process can be. I learned that many small details are crucial to having consistency and validity. I enjoyed being able to truly conduct a user test, especially having other students as users.

Now what?

Having HCDE as my intended major, I see how crucial and useful user testing is. When the goal of a product is to be marketable and user friendly, how else will one get genuine responses, if not from the public themselves? Having user tests allow for direct opinions and concerns to be said. When looking for direct user responses, I believe conducting tests is one of the most genuine ways to collect this data.

I would use this process again as it deemed very useful and informative. I do not think this would be extremely useful if you were to test a something like a basic prototype. The simplicity and possible improvement of prototypes would not prove to be a good use of a user test.