Usability Test Of A Microwave

HCDE 210

Eason Liu


About the test

My group members and I did a usability test for a microwave in 4th floor lounge, lander. The goal of the test is to see the reasonability of the design based at users’ experience. Fro example, we want to see whether the interface is easy to understand, whether bottoms are comfortable, etc. With some data from the usability test, the product could be improved on its user experience.

Target Microwave

The three tasks we chose are set cook time to 75 seconds, open and close the door, and set cook temperature to 350 Fahrenheit. Because we consider that they are the most frequently used functions of a microwave, which provides data that help more to our real life. We are going to record three types of data after tester finish each task, which are time, difficulty, and satisfaction ( scaled from 1 to 5 ), together with their comments and suggestions.

Tester 2 is setting the cook time


Presentation video:

We invited two friends and one randomly picked student as testers. During the test, we found some interesting facts. They all found the interface of microwave is confusing because there is no bottoms with numbers on them. Instead, it has a bottom that user needs to turn left or right to adjust the time and temperature, which is not as direct as numbers. Tester 1 hardly uses microwaves so he stated that some functions on microwave are hard to use. While, tester 2 uses microwaves a lot at home. However, the result shows that tester 1 even spends less time and feels easier than tester 2 does. When doing the second task which is opening and closing the door, tester 2 did not push the bottom. Instead, she was trying to touch the door from the edge to open it. After realizing that there is a bottom, she said that the one at her home does have a bottom to open the door. For tester 3, she seems to be a little bit shy as a randomly picked tester. After reflection, we think that there are two ways we could do it better. One is that we should explain more and talk to her more casually to make her feel comfortable. The other is that we should not all stand around her, which might bring her pressure. After the test, we were thinking about how should we select testers for a usability test. Age? Gender? Or some specific interests and personalities? Different groups of testers lead to totally different result. I believe this is an excellent topic to explore in the future.

In the future

As we already know, usability test is a crucial link in the process of creating a product. Cellphone producers need to test the feeling of bottoms, TV remote control producers need to test whether the bottoms can be understand easily. I think iphone 7 did a bad job on it. It drives me crazy every time I try to charge my iphone and listen to music at the same time. There will also be lots of extra information that producers did not consider before. So how can we make the test more efficient and precise. One aspect to focus on is the tester group, as I mentioned above. Another aspect is the design of the test. What kinds of tasks are meaningful? What types of data are worthy to collect? One of our test’s task is to open the door, put food in and close the door, which is actually not well designed. It does not reflect any helpful information. Additionally, the environment for testers is significant, which might leads to slight influence on result. As we watched in lecture, the moderator has to state clearly about some background information and tries to create an environment as casual as possible.

I think usability test can also be applied to virtual products rather than real products. For example, uw is going to open a new math course. Before officially start the course, we could invite a group of students to listen to the lecture and give feedback, which is kind of similar to an evaluation system. Or before publishing a law or a policy, we could test it to see if there is any potential situation.