HCDE 210 — Usability Testing

Ideating the features of a microwave.

The Process

This week, we were tasked with designing and executing a usability test for a microwave. We started by brainstorming the features of a microwave and its potential usability issues. From there, we came up with three tasks to ask users to perform during the test, then came up with three types of data that we could collect from each task.

Meeting with another group to exchange ideas and get feedback on our test design.

The three tasks we decided to test were heating something up for a specified amount of time, setting the clock, and installing the turntable. Each of these tasks is distinct and covers a common way that a user might need to interact with a microwave.

For each of the tasks, we decided to record the amount of time users took to complete the task, how many steps/button presses were involved, and asked the users to rate how easy or difficult the task was on a scale from 1 to 5. We also asked the users to vocalize their thought processes, and we recorded any comments they made. Collecting this data gave us a sense of the efficiency and satisfaction that the users completed the task with.

Later that day, we carried out the usability test on three users. We found that overall, setting the clock and installing the turntable was easy for all of the users. Cooking something for a specific amount of time was easy for those already familiar with the microwave, but was difficult and unintuitive for a new user. Finally, we created a short presentation and video compiling and describing the results of the test:

The Experience

I enjoyed the process of carrying out the usability test itself, as it was entertaining and interesting to see how differently different people interacted with the microwave. I also enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the project, as it was fun to design the test, carry it out, and present the results with a fellow student.

One of the main problems that arose during the usability test was that it was difficult to maintain an air of professionalism and have the users act naturally, likely as a result of us using friends and roommates as our users. In the future, I would be interested in learning about the process of recruiting people to participate in these usability tests.

Another problem was that due to how quickly the tasks were completed, it was occasionally a bit difficult to keep track of details such as the exact steps the users took. In the future, this could be remedied by recording the tests.

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