Our group conducted a 3 x 3 x 3 usability test (3 users, 3 tasks and 3 data points per task) to test if the microwave in McMahon hall is user-friendly. Our user group consisted of 3 females age from 18 to 20, and all of them has used microwave several times before. In order to fully examine the functions of this microwave, our group set 3 tasks from different categories for our user: to test the basic cooking functions, we asked our participants to set the timer to 2 minutes 45 seconds then make the microwave start working; to test some supplementary functions, we asked our users to change the volume of beeps and to change the time on the clock to 9:32 AM. For the sake of getting more specific user feedback, we gathered a variety of qualitative and quantitative data including the time that the participants finished the tasks, their rate of the tasks’ difficulty on a scale from 1 to 10, and any improvements they would suggest. The first data we collected can be counted as an objective measurement, while the last two are subjective reflections aim at getting direct reflections from participants.
One of the problem our group encountered was that two of our users lived in McMahon hall, and thus they have already become somewhat familiar with the microwave we chose to test, which might affect the accuracy of our data. Therefore, if I have an opportunity to do another usability test in the future, I will start to look for users ahead of time and make sure that they are from a wide range of genders, ages and even living area, so that I can propose better improvement towards certain products using those various feedbacks.
Another problem our group encountered was the unequal distribution of our own jobs. We took turn to play the role of timekeeper, photographer, and facilitator. However, as both timekeeper and photographer had to finish their jobs with their phones, facilitator automatically became responsible for the note-taking. When it was my turn to facilitate and take notes, I found it hard to make specific notes and communicate with the participants at the same time, which leads to the messy and incomplete notes. Hence, I might bring one more person into the group as the notes-taker or use a phone to record the whole talk between the facilitator and the participant during the usability test in order to get more specfic details if I am asked to do it again.
I think conducting usability test is an indispensable step on the way of refining products. As “user” should always be considered in the first place in one design, after the designer bring out the product according to user’s needs, conducting some usability tests is the fastest way for the designer to gain the direct opinions from the users. For example, designers can use usability test as a tool to get feedbacks about an app they develop, to test whether the users find it easy to navigate through the app or whether the users feel they certain functions are necessary in the app. After collecting all those feedbacks, designers will be able to come up with a few changes that can be added on the app to make the design better, and users will be more satisfied during use. Thus, promoting the update of certain products and therefore and enabling the product to provide the users more convenience, makes usability test an practical and essential element.