Studio started off with the formation of groups for our first completely collaborative project. After a brief introduction to my partner for the week, we were introduced to the fact that we would be analyzing the usability of coffee makers, with the specific model being to our discretion. My partner and I then began to brainstorm ideas as to what tasks our eventual users would be asked to perform, as well as what data we would collect about the tasks.
As for the tasks chosen, they were created with the device in mind, avoiding the production of a process that would heavily stress the user and take away from the focus on the coffee maker itself. The data was made quantifiable so that when the user’s opinion on ease or clarity was collected, it could be easily compared to those of the other users executing the tasks. Since the device itself was being tested, and not the users, we would then seek out those with a varying degree of experience with coffee makers so the “learning curve” itself would become more apparent in the data.
The usability test on the coffee maker was successful, but issues not inherently apparent in the design of the test became obvious when it was too late. For example, each test subject was not isolated from one another, so those that had little to no prior experience with a traditional coffee maker were able to study the actions of those before them. This is an issue due to the fact that it primes the user to perform the tasks, so they could possibly not make mistakes that they would otherwise. In tandem with preventing priming, I plan to ask more in-depth questions about each user’s experience in future tests. This is so that observations may be connected to their thoughts on the tasks.
The Project’s Experience
As this was the first project assigned that was cooperative throughout its entirety, this was a novel experience. I found the requirement of such cooperation enjoyable, but this may be due to the fact that Amanda (my partner) and I befriended each other extremely quickly. I can see that without such a connection, or understanding of responsibility, such a project may be awkward and/or taxing. That being said, I do look forward to the next opportunity I have to work closely with others, for this was a “gold experience.”