In our Usability Testing of the microwave, we decided to make our users finish certain tasks which were:
- Set the clock time to the current time
- Set the timer to 30 seconds
- Set the cook time to 1min 30sec
- Reheat Beef
- Make Popcorn
While asking the user to set cook time and timer we were able to gauge at the user experience for the basic functionality of the microwave. In this particular model of the microwave, there was a “Reheat” Button and 8 different types in that. This test and the test to make popcorn, allowed us to test the user experience of the preset buttons. We thought that these tasks would allow us to understand the basic user interface of the microwave.
We chose to collect the timings of each participant and each task, as this gave us a sense of how difficult each task is. We questioned them about satisfaction and button design, to get a better view at what the users were thinking and how they felt about the product. Another aspect we questioned them about was the button design, we chose this because we felt that the buttons played an integral part in the user interface and some microwaves have diagrammatic representations of the food, making it unclear for new users.
Looking Back at the experiment
Conducting a Usability test was a new experience for me. It allowed me to get a better perspective on the User Experience. It allowed me to understand the small annoyances of daily appliances, how differently we tend to use these appliances and how differently we use them as compared to how the engineers want us to use it. It was surprising to learn that presets are “confusing and annoying” to people, whereas I personally think that they enhance the user experience. I think that this experience shows me how to work out small details for any project and to view the design/product from the eye of a consumer. The data that surprised me was the long time it took all of our users to work out the cook time, which is the basic functionality of the microwave. This particular problem was caused due to the “FOOD” prompt on the microwave, this was a major annoyance for most of our users. Button Design also prompted me to realize the value of the completion sound, after you press a button. This allows the user to be certain, that the button they pressed, is actually processed by the machine.
In our testing, we ran into one big problem, the limited user group. I felt that even though we had a mixed group all from a residence hall, we lacked diversity in our user group. We also realized multiple design problems in the microwave that I would like to fix/remove in the future. The “FOOD” prompt was the key problem for our users, and I believe that wouldn’t be the case if we had a fake food product for the user to actually put into the microwave. In our group, I felt like I was taking notes and timing the person and the same time, while my other team member was moderating. Reflecting back, I think it would be beneficial for the testing to have a larger testing staff.