Usability Testing

This week we were first divided into groups of three for our project. This week we focused on usability testing and how it can help with the designing of a product.
First, we were to act as testers and were to think of a member of another group as a user and test a product’s usability. I was chosen as the user to test for a group’s water bottle’s usability. They tested me based on three tasks; 1) How I’d hold the bottle 2) How I’d fill the bottle 3) How I’d drink from the bottle. 
This exercise was really helpful for the work that was going to go into our project for the week.

My team and I working on the figuring out tasks for the microwave.

~It’s surprising how tough it can be to come up with three tasks for a microwave.

Our project this week begun by first giving us a product to test. The product was a Microwave. We chose one of our group mate’s Sunbeam Microwave from her dorm. We were to then choose three tasks we could use to test the microwave’s usability. We came up with quite a few tasks but chose 1) Opening/Closing the door because we wanted a basic, standard and easy task 2) Setting a timer and adding time to it whilst the microwave was on as we wanted to give them a tricky task and 3) Using the ‘Defrost With Weight’ preset to defrost a 4 pound 4 ounce item. We chose this to check for usage of advanced functions of the microwave.

We were to then choose data types that we’d use to record our tests. We chose 1) Completion Rate just for a simple tally of who completed what task, 2) Time to understand how slow or quick the user was and 3) Satisfaction to understand’s the user’s point of view of the microwave’s design.
We then moved onto actually testing the microwave in it’s natural environment: a college student’s dorm’s lounge. We chose our users from a group of students with an age range of 18–22 as we believe being college students, they are the most common users of the device in real life.

Our final idea of the what data type, tasks and actions we want to focus on during the test.

We recorded our data and found out that 2/3rd of our users were unable to use the preset correctly and 1/3rd were not successful in adding time. This didn’t surprise us at all, as being in college, we too have had a tough time with the microwaves.

~Looks like everyone wants microwaves to be redesigned.

We came to the conclusion that a lot of confusion was caused due to the not-so-informative labels on the buttons.We also found a lot of our user clan to be mistaken due to the lack of proper labeling of unit of weight.

This made us come up with the solution that it is important that the design in terms of labeling of buttons and units be changed and made simpler & bigger which in turn will result in way more efficiency and ease of use for the user.

Conducting the test on Person 2.

I really liked that we got to go into a real environment and actually test for a device’s usability. It helps you understand what goes through a user’s mind when operating a device and therefore will help me design better in the future.

~I think this activity was one that really helped us think from the user’s perspective.

When it comes to applying these techniques in the future, I think these learnings will come in handy when I move forward in my career. When and if a project for designing a product comes my way, I’d better understand of how to cater to the user’s needs because I can better understand what the user’s needs are. This would also help me when testing a product’s usability in it’s real environment. 
Like I said, I learnt a lot from this project but there a few things I’d like to do differently as well. I’d definitely like to take a more diverse group of users that would be more inclusive of genders and ages. I’d also like to test more than three users as that gives me a larger perspective about the user’s needs. I would also like to use an ‘Error rate’ data type to see how many issues and problems are encountered while doing the task.

In the end we created a video which I thought is great as it gave us the chance to present our findings and thoughts in a more effective way than a table. Here’s a link to the video:

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