Usability Testing Sprint

Week 3 was devoted to product usability testing. The class was split into groups, and each group was assigned to test the usability of different functions of a microwave. The studio time this week was spent learning about methods of usability testing and brainstorming features to test and what kind of data we would collect and report about.

The class came together to brainstorm microwave functions that we could potentially test.

By the end of the studio, my group had a plan to test the usability of the microwave. We decided to test the microwave by having participants cook popcorn, set the internal clock, and remove the revolving tray. We chose these three tasks because they are realistic tasks that a consumer would find themselves doing, and they ranged in difficulty. We recorded the time it took each participant to perform each task, whether or not they completed it correctly, and what difficulty the participant would rate the task. These data points were great because they allowed us to easily compare results between participants and tasks, and we could use them to report the usability of the functions tested.

For the deliverable this week, each group made a video reporting the results of their tests.

Reflection

This sprint has helped me to appreciate the importance of usability testing. Professor Davidson has repeatedly mentioned the power that designers have, and it is important to make sure that design ideas for a product, are best for the user. I liked this project because we were able to perform our own test, which tough us much more than any lecture or reading could have. Performing and reporting on our own test really solidified the purpose of such tests in the design industry.

What now?

Although usability testing is not the aspect of design that interests me the most, I have come to appreciate its importance in the design process. Learning from how users interact with your product is very valuable and can lead to a much better end result. This process will be important to almost every product design. Testing the product’s usability is just as important as testing its functionality, which are very separate things. Moving forward, I will be sure to include similar tests into any future product design processes. Testing features to make sure they are intuitive enough for the user, and that the product’s functions are accessible to the user in the way that I need them to be.