Process Blog: Usability

The topic of this week’s sprint is usability, which is mainly about a product’s effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction to a specific group of user under certain circumstances. In the studio I’ve learned about the process of usability test, and tried to build our own test with group members.

My experience

The product we are designing usability test on is microwave, which is a very common and essential tool for modern people. Every design process starts with brainstorms and this one isn’t an exception. So we started by thinking about the features of microwave.

Brainstorms of microwave features

After that, we began to design the tasks and data type of the test according to those features. My opinion was to design one easy task, one difficult task and one task that people don’t usually use, so that different aspects of the microwave are tested and the result will be more comprehensive. For data types, we chose time, number of buttons pressed and rating of difficulty. This is because these three scales can reflect the product’s efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction to users respectively.

Draft of test plan

My Reflection

This design process is quite different with those I’ve done in the last two weeks, because this time I’m designing a test for a product instead of a product itself. This means that I need to view the problem from the big picture and take personal preferences away because the goal is to get information by observing a real user. It’s important to keep the idea that we’re testing the product not the user in mind all the time, but meanwhile we also need to moderate carefully of the user and try to figure out his/her thought. I found it hard to find the balance between testing and interaction with the tester at the beginning but it got better as I went through videos of sample usability tests and discussed it with classmates.

Me(left) designing the test with group member

My opinion

I do like this project because it gave me a whole new angle of view to design. Before this I always assumed that it’s users’ fault if they failed to use a certain product because they didn’t pay attention to details or they just being too lazy. But now I found out that it’s actually a product’s duty to be clear and straightforward for users because users are completely new to the product and could not have a point of view as its designers do.

Note taker observing the behavior of the user during the test

During the test I also noticed that the user’s emotion can really be affected by the product depend’s on its usability. For example the tester in our test get very frustrated for not able to complete the task. I will also keep this idea in mind in the future while designing.