HCDE 210 Sprint 03: Usability Testing

Our first participant is doing the test with our moderator

This week, we discussed about usability testing. Usability test is about how effective and efficient that the users use a product, and how they satisfy with the products.

What We did

This week I was working with Ethan Cui and Tony Li to do a usability test for a microwave in Mercer Court, UW. In order to test the efficiency and effectiveness, we designed three tasks for the participants to do. They are:

  • Find the “popcorn” pre-set and set the timer to 10 mins
  • Turn on the microwave, leave, and tell whether the heating is completed
  • Distinguish the status of the food during heating

The first task was testing the difficulty of navigating between different functions. The second task was used to evaluate the difficulty of recognizing the completion of the heating. The third task tested the brightness of the light in the microwave.

Participant 2 doing her first task

We were collecting three data:

  • The complements of the tasks and the time that participants cost for the task
  • The difficulty to complete the task(1–5)
  • The satisfaction level of participations (1–5)

to sh0w how efficient, satisfied, and effective that the participants feel about the microwave. 
Also, we invited three participants, who have different experiences with microwaves. So after the test, we could conclude how their experience impact their satisfaction, efficiency, and effectiveness of using microwaves.


Group projects are effective and I always learn from my group mates. I had two great group mates in this project, and they are responsible and inspired me to be more considerate on some details in the project.

Group mate Ethan Cui making slides

This project inspires me about how users help the designers to update a product. The suggestions from participants sometimes are out of my expected. For example, participant 2 suggested that the light in the microwave should be adjustable. I haven’t noticed this problem before. Sometimes the users can find some details that the designers haven’t noticed before. Also, participants with a different background would have different opinions’ toward a product. For example, the participant 1 in this barely use microwaves, and he thought the dashboard of the microwave is complicated, and he suggested that designers should design something with the clear introduction.

Participants with different life experience will have different feedback to the products. Designers usually design products based on their own experience and the research that they gained by interviewed. But usability test can actually help the designers understand how the users evaluate their interaction with the product.

Application in the Future

Usability testing is useful and can be applied in different products and even apps or websites. It reflects the effectiveness of the interaction between the products and users. The designers sometimes don’t know the inconvenience in their products because they are too familiar with the products.

When I use some products or websites that are confusing, I will hope their designers can do usability tests for their products. To be honest, I always complain about how Prezi’s navigation is complicated and I never understand how I can zoom in properly. Therefore, I believe a usability test is necessary for a user’s perspective. A usability test can definitely help the designer improve their products. This is the reason why that the designers always want users’ feedback. Getting feedback can help them update their products and avoid the mistakes they made.

Users sometimes use same kind of products from different brands. A product with a better interaction design will make this product be unique from other brands, and a usability test is a effective way to help designers to build up a better interaction between the products and the users.

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