HCDE 210: Usability Testing

Video deliverable for usability test

The What: GE Microwave

Our focus this week was usability. Usability is the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to complete specified tasks with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use. We learned “effectiveness” can be thought of as the accuracy and completeness with which specified users can achieve specified goals in a particular environment. “Efficiency” can be thought of as the resources expended in relation to the accuracy and completeness of the goals achieved. And “satisfaction” can be thought of as the comfort and acceptability of the work system to its users and other people affected by its use. This meant as we proceeded to complete this weeks task of testing the usability of a microwave we would have to think critically about how certain functions of a microwave were accurate/complete, the resources they required and how comfortable/acceptable the results of completing those functions were.

This was a group project wherein we were assigned to groups of three and tasked with documenting the usability of a microwave. My team and I collaborated to set up and execute the test of a GE microwave with three users, whom were told to complete three tasks, while three data types were cataloged. We chose three 18–20 year old college students because they represent a significant population of microwave users. We asked them to complete: 1) Set cook time to one minute, 2) Adjust the power level to half power, 3) Set cook time to one minute then add 30 seconds before the time expires. Meanwhile, we recorded: 1) The time to complete the task, 2) How easy was the task on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = easy, 10 = hard), 3) Efficiency based on the number of buttons pressed to complete the task. The results of this test and the analysis of it is summarized nicely in the video deliverable above.

A nearly finalized list of the tasks users would complete in our test after a brainstorm session
A nearly finalized list of the data types used in our test after a brainstorm session

The Experience

I came out of this week with a lesson supporting the benefits of segmenting work and trusting team members to complete that work. Trust and control, regretfully, can often be a pain point of mine when working in group settings. Like most, it is far easier to give trust and control to myself because I already know the integrities I maintain when completing work. It can be far more challenging to give that same trust and control to people you have just met. However, from many prior experiences in school, to the workplace, to filmmaking, and beyond I’ve learned our world is built greatly on collaboration and trust and this project became another to bolstered that notion. The task of segmenting work and trusting my team members to complete that work was one of the easiest and least stressful experiences of this I’ve ever had. There was almost no debate with task assignment — each member readily volunteering to complete the different parts of the project. And most importantly, each of those roles was completed to a very satisfactory level. It was an additionally enjoyable experience to have the opportunity to meet and learn more about some of my peers while being able to work towards a goal together. It’s this relationship building that I can see being so important in the world of design and beyond.

Brainstormed ideas of the challenges one can face when trying to operate a microwave

Going Forth

Trust and relationship building will be a continued goal of mine, particularly as I continue further down this road of Human Centered Design and Engineering. Building reliable and continued relationships will be of great importance since, from what I’ve been able to conclude thus far, this a profession that heavily relies on collaboration and group effort to complete their work. This type of skill and goal will be applicable to basically all parts of HCDE, and only in the case of very specific restrictions in a school environment may collaborating with others be inappropriate. Beyond that, the capacity to be able to have people you can rely on for support, learning resources, teammates, and so much more will be an invaluable part of success as a human centered designer and engineer.

Framing a scene for the video deliverable