What, How, and Why
After learning about methods of usability testing and designing our own usability tests for water bottles in studio, we brainstormed potential tests for common microwaves.
We decided to test the microwave for three common but possibly confusing tasks (see video) and chose three measures of success for each task. We chose varying tasks/measures to give us a more accurate picture of the ease of use. Later, we asked three testers for our target user group to participate in our study. The users had varying experience, again increasing the accuracy of our tests.
Before conducting this project, I did not fully understand the importance of usability testing — I had believed that a product would have been designed with the user’s interaction in mind and their feedback would not be needed. Seeing the testers use the microwave, I realized that each tester behaved very differently and a designer could not possibly foresee all possible uses. A problem I encountered was that while one user found the tasks easy, another found them very difficult — it seemed like there were many variables other than the microwave’s usability at play.
In the Future
I think that just like the processes and methods in the interaction design sprint, usability testing can also be applied somewhat universally to any creation people interact with. As I learned through the project, people use products in many different and unpredictable ways. As an example, perhaps I design a machine to make my bed in the future, and a user decides to run it while sitting on the bed, ending up hurting themselves. I may not have expected such use if I had not done usability testing — I would only have had my own view of the product and not seen how others might use it.