HCDE Sprint — Usability Testing

Conducting a usability test for the microwave in my dorm

Process: Going through the whole process

Designing the plan, collecting the data and analysing the data

In a group of three, we tested the microwave in my dorm for our usability test. First, we started with making a plan designing three kinds of tasks and recording three types of data.

group designing the plan

Because we wanted the participants to try different setting based on different concepts to test the usability of the microwave, we determined to set tasks as changing the time of the clock, setting timer, and changing of the volume of beeping sounds. And the types of data includes consumed time, difficulty scale, and suggested improvements. Then we invited three female college students as our participants. The reason why we chose them is due to the limitation of the location and time. During the test, we also rotated our roles as moderator, the one who give instructions to participant and notetaker, the one who take notes of the data and take photos.

Participant doing task during the usability test

After collecting all the datas, we moved on to analysis them to get better understanding and then made a slide to show all the things and prepared a 3 minutes presentation to explain it.

3 minutes presentation video

Reflection: Improvement in the future

Clarifying the instructions is important

Reviewing the whole process, one thing that I learned is that the instructions for participants have to be detailed and specific. At first, we did not regulate whether the time of the clock should be set in AM or PM, so the participants confused about that and asked us during the test. In fact, we can avoid this problem by making the instructions more detailed and clear in every steps. This is the one thing that we should improve in the planing process. This means our process planing should be more meticulous, and the participants will be more clear about what to do so that the confusion about the instructions will not be a distraction of the test.

Takeaway: Learning from the process

Usability test is a good way to improve the product

After conducting a usability test in such a short time, we found several weaknesses of the product that the users struggled with. For example, in our usability test towards the microwave, there are two different setting “timer” and “time cook” showing in the microwave. The participants all found out so confusing about the difference between these two buttons. Though we did not test a lot of participants, the popularity of the problems still indicate that the design of microwave has something to improve. Also, even though the microwave has various functions, the users still complain about it and will not actually use so many functions in the life, so that the design actually does not consider roundly about the user’s need. Considering that we really need to focus on users when design a product, asking users about their experience and conducting a usability test is necessary for all kinds of design in the future. For example, we could conduct the usability test using the eye track in testing a design of website to help gain more feedbacks. Or we could also test the daily life objects like the water bottle, television, and even doors to learn how to get a better design.