Usability Testing | Microwave

West Bend 900-watt microwave with its keypad zoomed-in.

For this week’s sprint, we were tasked to create a usability test on a microwave. In groups of two or three, we developed a test that, to the best of our abilities, would reflect just how user-friendly our chosen microwave is. In my group, we used a West Bend 900-watt microwave. We didn’t plan on choosing this specific microwave, it was just what I personally had at my disposal that would make it quick and easy for me and my group mates to execute this assignment (we considered using one of the many microwaves on campus, but upon deciding that we would be standing in the way of people who just want to heat up their food and eat, we chose to use my microwave).

Before running the test, my group mates and I came up with a Test Script for the testers to read to the users exactly what will be going on in the test; a Consent form to know whether the user will allow us to take photos and videos of their test or not; Task sheets that say what we want the users to do and; Test Sheets that the testers will fill out while the user performs the task. We made all of this to make sure that we have a concrete system that we can refer to for our reports.

(L-R) Test Script with Consent Form at the bottom, Tasks, Test Sheet

To run our test, we finalized our tasks into the following:

All of these were rated to obtain the following data:

We chose these tasks and the corresponding data because we felt that they would best represent the usability of the microwave since these are things that average people do on a relatively regular basis.

After analyzing our data, we found some commonalities and some distinctions between our users.

Of course, because this is our very first usability test, we found out that there are definitely things that we could improve on in the future.

Overall, my group mates and I all agree that this assignment was engaging and fun. First of all, we had the great opportunity to tell people what to do, watch them make mistakes (and even get some of it on camera), fill out colorful sheets based on the user’s performance, and create a presentation about all of it. Usability tests are useful (ha!) for really finding out what works and what doesn’t work in a system or in a product, and I definitely see myself performing usability tests like this in the future for products that I envision (and hopefully create) formally or informally. It is highly interesting to witness what is and what is not intuitive to people; it’s just never exactly the same for anyone.

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