Coffee Maker Usability Test

HCDE 210 Goes Public

How Does Black and Decker Fare Against College Students?

One of our users performing the task of changing the time on the coffee machine clock.

This week, we took HCDE outside of the studio and to the public. We were split up into groups of two or three and designed an appliance to perform a usability test with. With a usability test, the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of a product can be analyzed. My group and I chose to use college students as our users because college students tend to drink a lot of coffee, because they’re exhausted 24/7, so we thought that if a coffee maker is a good coffee maker, it should be easy for a college student to use. We then brainstormed many features of the coffee maker that could be tested and picked three. We ended up choosing changing the time on the coffee maker clock, pouring water into the water reservoir, and pouring coffee from the coffee pot into a mug. We chose these tasks because they are all relatively easy, the last two are essential for making and drinking coffee. Lastly, we came up with three different ways for recording data for each of the tasks. We decided to count the number of errors that the user made while completing each of the tasks, have the user rate the difficulty of the task on a scale of 1–10, so we could get quantitative results, and we also had the user tell us in words how easy or difficult the task was, for a qualitative response. We then asked a follow up question, for example if they reported the task as being difficult, we asked, “what would have made completing the task easier?”, or if they reported it as easy, we asked, “what made it so easy?”. This way we could get a more detailed response, and better understand the users thoughts on the product.


A short video presentation of our results, observations, and ideas for improving our usability test.

I think that the qualitative response was the most informative for each of the tasks, because we were able to see why a user responded the way they did, and what about the product prompted their response. For example, for the qualitative response on changing the time on the coffee maker clock, all three users said that it was easy because the buttons on the machine were labeled “hours” and “minutes”. Also, after filling the water reservoir, two users said it would have been easier to complete the task if the compartment were labeled as the water reservoir. From this, we are able to take away that users are able to navigate a product better when it is labeled.

Round 2

If I were to run this usability test again, I would like to run it in a more kitchen-like environment to make it more realistic. I think that may create a more real-life situation for the user. Also, I would think more about what to do if users had questions in the middle of the test, for example I’d decide if it’s okay to answer their questions, or if it’s important that they receive no help. Lastly, I would have the users vocalize their thought process while completing the tasks more. We asked them to do so at the beginning of the test, but all three users refrained from talking too much. I would more enthusiastically encourage it, because it helps to gain more information about the experience the user is having with the product. Something I’ve wondered about is if the users feel nervous with three people watching them complete tasks. The Hawthorne effect could be present, providing somewhat inaccurate resultsA slide presentation of all of our data, observations, and changes we’d make for next time can be viewed at

The Real World

The usability test in progress. It was a lot of fun to take what I’ve learned in HCDE and apply it to the real people and products.

This project was fun because I was able to share what I’m doing in the classroom with the public, even it was just a small portion. I put a lot of effort into designing the test because it was for other people to follow, not just me. I liked getting results from scratch and being able to assess a product as general as a coffee maker from them. A coffee maker is an appliance that many use everyday, yet we rarely look at how easy it is to use.