HCDE 210: Sprint 2

By Jeffrey Pinkstaff

Getting specifications on Sprint 2: Usability Testing

1) What did you do?

The purpose of our assignment for Sprint 2 was to test usability. All of the class was given the specific topic of kitchen appliances, and then from there my quiz section was assigned to test the usability of a coffee maker.

We warmed up for our Sprint by being given an ordinary object — a vessel for containing liquid. The vessels varied from coffee cups with lids to water bottles. The task of the warm up was to come up with 3 tasks we could ask a user to perform with the vessel — and then to measure the 3 different tasks with 3 of the same data measurements. The nickname for the project was “3x3x3x3”. Three teammates, three tasks, 3 measurements of data, and a 3 minute presentation.

My group had a permanent coffee mug with a rubber lid.

Similar to this. And YES I chose the most basic example on purpose.

We did some divergent thinking and ended up a little outside of the ballpark with the goal of the assignment.

Our tasks were basically:

  1. Grow a potted plant
  2. Use this lid as a stress ball
  3. Smash it

Our error was that we didn’t realize that we were supposed to be able to easily measure the tasks. Measuring growth would take fare too long, and smashing the cup would require us to have multiple.

After coming up with the tasks we figured out how they could be measured and worked with other groups to figure out if our measurements made sense — or if they could be standardized or improved upon.

Here I am in the bottom right corner working with another group to assess their criteria.

For our actual experiment these were the criteria we settled on:

User: freshman fraternity boy who has never used a coffee maker.

Our tasks:

  1. Make Coffee
  2. 2) Change Filter
  3. 3) Identify relevant info. (Where to call if machine broke)

Our Measurements:

  1. Time it takes (quantitative)
  2. Frustration with task (quantitative on a 1–5 scale — although listening to the qualitative description words was more entertaining)
  3. Errors (made coffee wrong, identified wrong info, etc)

2) Reflection

Some common problems we ran into were keeping a stable testing environment (making sure the materials for each task were laid out in the same way each time) and also judging errors. We realized once we started judging we should weigh certain errors differently than others. For example locating the model and serial number instead of a phone number was a minor error compared to not grinding up the beans before they went in the filter.

In the future I would like to spend more time planning out and going over pros and cons for our measured variables. Next time we should also see and be familiar with the coffee maker we plan to use before we use class time to come up with possible tasks and modes of data collection.

3) What did you like about this Sprint and why?

I liked that we got to work with new partners because we were able to meet new people and see how they think. I also liked that we got assigned to our teams based on our own availability for working. In my opinion that was a very good user-centered alleviation to the problem of working in groups that are randomly assigned.

I liked that we were testing out a product’s usability for ourselves — so it was good field practice. This served as a great base knowledge for what to do as well as teaching us what not to do. There are definitely aspects of our experiment we could improve upon.

Another one of my favorite parts was taking this picture with my group. Shout out to Lucas and Jessica for mad skills.

4) How could I apply this technique in the future?

The techniques we worked on here are usability testing. I could apply this in the future by working on my own products, be they apps or physical products, in order to gather statistical data.

From this data I could discern problems with my design and make improvements based off feedback from users.

A good real world example of this can come from the video we watched in class on usability testing of fruit. It showed both seriously and comically how the design process can be use on just about anything in order to gather research data that can be used to improve upon products.

Here a high tech device measures where the user’s eyes travel on a pineapple

Any product that wishes to be successful should follow this design process approach. Apple, one of the most successful tech companies, uses strict design planning in it’s products to create innovative, beautiful, and intuitive systems that drive a user to use not just one of it’s products, but all of it’s products.

Image Credit. Apple is a genius. They created an entire experience for the “unboxing” of their phones. Just seeing this makes me want to spend $600 on the comapany’s new White Girl 6S

This type of dedicated work is extremely important because it forces designers to analyze humans in order to better understand them as users so that they can design a product that is marketable to all.

Dedication in design is what makes companies great. Take Disney’s innovation of the MagicBand for example. It revolutionizes the user experience and they were able to do it by identifying the problem points in the park and then designing a solution.

Visual Appeal? Check. Useful? Check. Usability? It’s easy — check. Personalization? Check. Image Credit.

Thank you for reading my second process blog! I look forward to grading and critique and more valuable lessons that can steal my attention for hours and kick-start me into the program.

-Jeff

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