The benefits that come with usabilty testing is endless. Not only does usability testing allow engineers to see how efficient and effective a product is, it also gives them the ability to see how satisfied a user is with their product. These are three essential components that go into deciding whether or not a product is user friendly. Usability testing also allows researchers or engineers to see how specific user groups interact with their product. Again, this is essential because it gives them a more in depth understanding of their product as well as allows them to ensure that their product appeals to all users and user groups.
What did we do?
As engineers, we need to be able to master the craft behind usability testing. It is a skill that will take us a long way within this field. We began by understanding what exactly we would be testing on, which in our case was an oven. Once we understood the task at hand we began to see multiple examples of moderators and user interactions and what a usability test looked like. We learned that as a moderator it is essential to speak slowly to our user, explain the study, and separate themselves from the study to make the user feel as comfortable as possible. Once we understood this process we began brainstorming different tasks for our user with different pieces of data to collect. Once we completed our brainstorming we were ready to jump in to our study and begin testing with the users my colleague and I selected.
Overall, the experiment went well and I believed my colleague and I were successful in our testing. We felt the data we collected went a long way and was definitely useful in deciding whether or not the oven at hand was user friendly. The tasks were somewhat difficult to come up with because we wanted to have tasks that were effective in seeing whether or not the ovens were usable in a simple manner. Once we got passed this stage it was much more simple to come up with data to collect based on the users we had. This project definitely made me think about the work that goes into a product before it can come into the real world and used by people. The use of usability testing is extremely effective and in my opinion a pivotal aspect of whether or not a product is ready for the real world to use it.
All in all I found this project extremely pleasurable and one I would enjoy to do more of in the future. It opened my mind up to so many possibilities when dealing with new products entering the world. Processes like this one are what make new products feasible. I definitely would want to participate in a usability test and experience what it would be like being on the other end of the stick. Working as a moderator made me feel a sense of capacity that I never felt before. It made me feel confident in my actions and something I would enjoy doing more of in the future.