Sprint 2: Usability Testing

The model of our usability test


The topic of this week’s studio focused on usability test, which is composed of planning, executing and reporting. After we reviewed the definition of usability (effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction), we did a practice test of usability on water bottle. Then we also watched a video of how professional usability test can be carried out.

Began to brainstorm our plan of usability test


After preparation, Our group designed a usability test on microwave. We chose the microwave in the Commuter Commons on campus. So our users are undergraduates of UW obviously. Then we planned the test through “3 x 3 x 3” method. We decided these three tasks which can help us gain useful data. Because we thought that these tasks can test the functions thoroughly which match our users needs.

  • Change current heat level to the lowest heat setting
  • Set the clock one hour and a half forward
  • Heat your lunch for 2 minutes and 34 seconds.

After brainstorming, we chose to include both qualitative data and quantitative data in our test. Because these two kinds of data are both important for us to know participant’s opinions. It also help us know whether users complete the tasks efficiently or not. So these three data types we chose to collect are following:

  • Usability rating
  • Ability to finish the task
  • Improvements for product

On Thursday, we carried out the usability test on three participants and created a presentation to show the results.

Here’s our presentation.


Participant 1 and 3 finishing the first task (Change current heat level to the lowest heat setting)

The most interesting aspect of the test for me is analyzing the data. After observing how participants performed and gaining data through tasks, I started to summary the result of this test. This part is meaningful because designers always gain experience mostly by analysing the data from test. The analysis helps me to find relationship between the degree of difficulty and passing rate. The more difficult task is, the lower the rate of passing is. Analyzing the suggestion from participants is significant for every usability test too. By doing that, we can know how to improve our product. In this test, all participants met the same problem: they can not see heat level clearly so it was so hard to finish the first task. After analyzing, my suggestion to solve this problem is adding a button that can show the heat level explicitly.

Also, the collaboration with my group members was so enjoyable. We separated tasks and worked with each other effectively. So we finished our test and presentation in 3 hours!

Future Application

I gain totally different experience from this sprint. I get to know the importance of usability testing for all designers to create user-centered products. It allows designers to enhance the products to interact with human being more effectively.

Although we finished our usability test smoothly, there are still some problems. First, we should encourage participants to give more feedback while they carry out tasks in the future. Because after the test, we found that participants seemed to forget to narrate their thought processes as the test progressed. So they did not give enough reflection about the test.

Second, the data is insignificant with such a small population. Thus we can not find any relationship between the passing rate and participant’s gender or experience. In the future, I will plan to select more participants.

Another problem is the wrong orders of tests. Since the first test was the most difficult, I think it discouraged participants. Reordering the test is a good way to solve it.

All in all, I’ve learned that it is an effective way to conduct a product’s usability test rather than to just make assumptions. I believe that I will conduct different usability test to improve my products after I finish my prototypes (I mentioned it in my previous blog)!

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