The Usability Test of Microwave
Microwave is a basic daily appliance for people to heat food and use other featured functions. To test the microwave our scool provided for students, I, assigned in a group with Devin and Lawrence, took a usability test with three participants.
The Process of Usability Test
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTvS6a1QNgM This is the link to our presentation video.
To make a test, firstly we need to declare our tasks. Considering the most drequently-use functions of mivrowave, we chose to ask participants to find the popcorn preset, set the clock, and set the timer. Then we chose to estimate participants’ time to complete, number of errors, and user satisfication. The first two options can test the efficiency and effectiveness of the product, and user satisfication reflects user’s basic needs and the quality of the design. Choosing college students aged around 18 is beacause that college students need to use microwave almost everyday, and at the age of learning things fastest, teenagers help designer to design the product suitable for every age level. The microwace experience helps designer to reconsider details for different levels of experience user.
We also assigned different tasks to each member in group. Each member will take turns to be the moderator, cameraman and note-taker.
After inviting participants, the moderator introduced the task to each participant. We promised that this is only a test of the design of microwave, not their ability. We asked them to fin the popcorn preset, set the clock of the microwave to 2 pm and set a timer for 45 seconds at power level 3. Each participant has different using microwave experience. They gave immediate feedback for us during the test.
For task 1, all participants found easy to accomplish because of the picture or word printed on the buttun. They all finished this task succssfully within 5 seconds. For task 2, the three participants made at least one error, and the first participant failed to accomplish the task. They all felt a little confused during this task. For task 3, the participants generally took a lot of time to reach the task, two of them failed. They struggled to set time and power.
We found that this type of microwave could not fulfill the basic needs for users. For some tasks, participants need to press some button twice to reach their goal which is difficult for a normal user to come up with. The preset design is clear to use.
Problems We Encountered in the Usability Test
If we have more time and resources, we could use a larger sample of participants from different demographics. This would be more useful for getting accurate information. If we drop the task for users approaching a new microwave, we would able to see their first attempt and true level of satisfication. There exists some confusion between the timer and time clock because some participant pressed the clock buttun when he was asked for set heating time. We could improve the script to make the task clear.
I, personally, like this experience holding a usability test. I can directly observe the reaction of participants and get immediate information. Also, working in a team brings joy and accomplishment.
The Future of Usability Test
Usability Test is a essencial step for in producing and publishing products. Collecting data from participants or volunteers help designer to improve the product. The usability test can be done before publishing the pruduct or after it. The main user population is potencial for the company to do more usaility test.