What, where, when: Interface usability tests, UTA usability lab, Friday the 3rd of May
On the blog today: Did I mention usability?
Kamil & Tomas working in the lab
So, the time had come, there finally is a testable version of the interface, of which Tomas can take the credit for. We'we been working with Balsamiq, and the testing was also done by using Balsamiqs clever prototype-function. We basically just opened Balsamiq on the browser of a tablet computer and let the participant use the interface from a browser.

We started by a pilot test on Thursday to see if there was something to be changed before the actual tests on Friday, but to our luck there weren't any difficulties. We even got a screen recording of the test by taping my phone on a lamp and placing it over the tablet. We did have some luck - the memory of the phone filled just after we had finished the test and the interview, phew!

The pilot test went well and already from the one test alone we got some important information about the interface. The actual tests were implemented in the UTA usability lab in Pinni B. Tomas handled the interaction and interviews with the participants, and me and Kamil stayed in the other room and observed while handling the recordings. 

The testing environment
I'm glad we arrived early to the lab - due to some unseen problems  there was more to arrange than I had been hoping for. The tablet didn't really want to cooperate, and kept changing the screen to a horizontal view, which we couldn't really approve because the product would have been untestable. Luckily the great team of computer geeks solved the problem by switching it off and back on again. And yes, I study computer sciences, why do you ask..? The lamps on the ceiling also caused some problems. The reflection was pretty bad even though the lights were the dimmering kind and we set the screen brightness to full 100% on the tab (we tried to also turn the lights off and back on again, but unfortunately for some reason it didn't work with the lights as it did with the tab. Darn.)

Click the image to see it bigger!
We placed the camera on a mic stand and taped it to the desk to keep it from moving. We also made marks on the desk for the tab to keep it in the cam view. In the pic you can see how the interface looked on the screen.

Here's a little better sample of the interface so far. The user is warming up the sauna with remote access from a phone, and setting a time for the sauna to be warm and ready.

I had to leave for work before the last participant, but I think we got ourselves some vital information with the tests. There were some tasks every participant had trouble with, which is a pretty clear sign for us. For some reason the "items" -category was something everybody thought of as non-descriptive for what it actually holds inside. We'll have to do something about that.


Working hours:

Adnan 21,5, so far 88.5
Anni 9.5, so far 89
Chau 14, so far 70
Kamil 4, so far 79.5
Tomas 35, so far 120

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