Usability Testing

This week in HCDE we did usability testing. Below is a presentation of my test results from testing a microwave.

My Presentation on the Usability Test


In studio we we’re given the task of creating usability tests for microwave. So, paired up and formulated tasks and data to collect after each task. When it came time for testing we had the users test the microwave shown below.

The Tasks

  1. Set the microwave to medium and start it for 1 minute and 30 seconds
  2. Take out the turning tray as if for cleaning, and then replace in microwave
  3. Cook a bag of popcorn
The microwave users tested


During testing, because we did not want users influencing each other’s results, we had one user testing while the others waited outside. As my partner explained the process and the task to the testers, I collected data. Because we were timing how long the tasks took to complete, I started timing as soon as my partner finished talking in order to get an accurate estimate of time. To gauge the user’s first impressions on the function of the microwave, we had them think out loud while doing each task. Upon finishing, we asked them two questions, the first addressed difficulties and frustrations, the second was a satisfaction rating with the microwave.

A closer look at the interface of the microwave

The Data

The most notable conclusion from the data collected was that changing the settings was the part users struggled with the most. Most of our testers assumed that high power was the correct one and that it was difficult to get to the power they wanted, medium power. I would agree that it did not seem intuitive to use solely the power button to increment when a number pad exists on the microwave. I think improvements could be made to this testing through who tests the microwave. Since we were short on time, all of our testers were close friends so they may not have treated the testing as seriously as a random user would.

“Thinking Out Loud”

We encountered a problem during testing in that some users were not used to “thinking out loud” and as such didn’t really do it. Other times, the task was very short so users did not have a chance in terms of time to “think out loud.” Although we did get the sentiment, there could possibly be more data if the users “thought out loud” more. It wasn’t for a lack of my partner and I asking if they would think out loud, but rather users were not used to it. Maybe there is a better solution to encourage people to express their thoughts while testing something.

What I Liked

I enjoyed the testing aspect of this sprint. It was unpredictable how the testers were going to react to both the tasks and the microwave it self and thus lead to interesting observations of users actions. For example, the two male testers both tried to key in using the number pad the power level they wanted, and the female tester trusted the popcorn button completely. While these were all options that could be expected, it was interesting nonetheless to see the reactions of testers.