We’re opening a usability lab

I’ve spent a big part of this year talking about improving usability and designing better services for users. If you’re following my Twitter account, I’ve done many threads about usability (or the lack thereof). I spoke at the Usable meetup in October, on the topic of successful design sprints — where prototypes of the product or service must be tested with users before the sprint finishes. I also talked about the importance of testing and iteration during the recently held World Usability Day Speaker Series here in Lagos.

I’ve been asked these questions repeatedly:

How do we find users?

Can I just randomly walk up to people and ask for their opinion?

Isn’t it really awkward to do usability testing?

How many users do I actually need?

You can find people to test anywhere.

Sometimes, people start with friends and family. While this may be okay to begin with, people who love you aren’t always objective. Others go to public places where they might find a friendly face. I’ve been asked for my opinions at places like Shoprite and Cafe Neo. This requires bravery and the ability to hear a lot of no’s to get to a few people who will say yes. There are several online sites that can get you testers, but many of them are not specific to Nigeria or other African countries. And while they are great at delivering certain types of tests such as click tests or task performance tests, sometimes teams just want to be able to talk to potential users and have a conversation as they test.

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But for those who need a little extra help, we’re opening a usability lab

I’m pleased to announce that the the Areedi team will be opening a mini usability lab in 2018. We want to be able to take away some of the awkwardness of finding users and asking them to test a product or service. We can also be helpful to teams who may not be as experienced as we are with testing users.

When a business or a team requests a usability test, we’ll sort through our database to screen, select and schedule users. Sometimes teams have certain types of people or personas they want to test with — for example, moms or schoolteachers. We will try to accommodate this, especially as our database grows. The plan is to schedule 5–7 users for each usability test, since about 90% of issues can be identified with a small group of testers. (It is probably better to do 3 prototype tests with 5 people each time, with space in between to iterate, rather than 15 people testing the same prototype.) After the tests, you’ll get a report and videos of the tests (if applicable).

For Testers

We’ve already started building a database of potential testers who are interested in doing usability tests, and have signed themselves up to be a part of our program. After each test, they will receive a token for their time, such as airtime or a gift certificate. If you’re interested, please visit our Usability Lab page or go to the signup form directly.

For Businesses & Teams

We’ll be kicking off in January 2018. To read more about how this works, please visit the Usability Lab page on our website. If you’d like to be notified about when this service will be available, or to schedule your tests in advance, please email hello@areedi.com or send me a DM on Twitter (@yoowai)

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Let me end with this: You can still do your tests with friends and family, or in public places. You can still do online testing (and I recommend it). Those are still all valid ways to test your prototype.

However, if you’d like a more structured way to test usability with our guidance, please get in touch. Let’s help you make your stuff more usable!

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