Sprint 2 — Hard-pressed for Coffee

For this Sprint, we picked 3 tasks for 3 users to do with a coffee machine and collected 3 types of data to describe their experiences. My partner, Whitney, and I chose to experiment with a AeroPress on girls in her house who had never used an AeroPress before to try and find a new perspective and get a more dramatic reaction to being introduced to using one. We collected the time it took to do each task, the number of mistakes they made, and their rating from 1–10 on the difficulty of the task, from 1 being “very easy” to 10, “very difficult”. With the data we collected, we summarized our findings to find that although the times were fairly similar, the average number of mistakes decreased as the testing continued.

Testing the AeroPress was interesting for several reasons and brought up several things I would want to keep controlled in future user-testing situations. The lack of a script, of a good control to compare our findings to, and of a more precise way to judge a mistake and the beginning and ending of tasks made it hard to keep our users’ experiences the same and comparable. It made me curious of the extent to which we can really quantify qualitative and subjective events and observations.

I appreciated that my partner and I were on the same page, willing to test as many times as we needed to, and that we actually found interesting conclusions on the use of the AeroPress. I think I liked user testing and I liked how we were able to use our findings to discover something about the users and the product and their interactions.

This kind of usability testing seems like it would be useful for most if not all physical products; there are always improvements that could be done. In the case of differently abled people and different demographics, however, testing is crucial to the process because, most likely, the designer didn’t consider the difficulties associated with how someone with only one arm or how a deaf person might use it. For example, a child without full control of their arms may use scissors very differently than I would. In the case of interfaces and more non-physical products, user-testing may allow you to understand what’s intuitive, what follows their mental model and what allows them to best utilize the system, even if it’s completely different than the preconceived notion of other’s understandings of the product.