Microwave Usability Testing

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In this studio section we learned about usability testing:

water bottle brainstorming

Overview

This week we discussed how to effectively conduct usability testing and also came up with some possible hypothetical test designs. As for properly conducting usability testing, notes taken include: dissociating the moderator from the test itself and keeping the focus on the product NOT on the user’s skill or ability. We first used a simple water bottle as the subject of our brainstorming on possible tasks we could test for. Our group came up with: opening the lid, refilling the bottle, and carrying the bottle. Admittedly, we found it a bit difficult to come up with tasks for such a simple product. The three types of data we came up with to compliment each respective task were: amount of time, volume of spillage, and user fatigue.

Personal Take

I personally enjoyed the methodical process behind usability testing. There were multiple parallels with scientific procedure that helped me feel familiar with the structure quickly. I can see how valuable usability testing is in both looking for areas of improvement in already made products and in getting quality feedback for prototypes that are decently far along.

usability testing in action

Application

I can see myself directly applying usability testing in the future in product design. The microwave test we undertook could very well be extremely similar to testing that I might do in the future for other kinds of products. The products that would benefit most from usability testing are probably hi-fidelity as they need to be very functional already. Usability testing thus does require more resources but it offers quality feedback. Low-fi projects might be more difficult to usability test as users are unlikely to give as dynamic of feedback if the prototype is not full featured enough.