At our usability lab in Singapore, we conduct usability testing with real people (users) to help find and understand usability issues. We ensure that these issues can be addressed well before the release of the product/service. The user may be given a series of tasks to perform on a prototype or existing product and a moderator will observe the sessions as well as interview users to understand why they are facing such problems (is it the layout or terminology or mismatch of expectation?)
It is important that besides finding an issue, we find what is the causing the issue so that we can recommend an actionable solution. Here, at Objective Asia, we have enlisted the aid of eye tracking technology and retrospective think aloud protocol very successfully to understand usability issues.
In Singapore, we use many different methods for usability testing of digital products and services depending on the context and clients’ business objectives. Here are some of usability testing methods we have used so far.
Mobile Application Usability Testing
In Singapore, usability testing with with iPhone apps and Android apps is very popular, particularly in mobile payments UX. When conducting usability testing on mobile devices, an important aspect is being able to view the sessions as they happen without the need to look over their shoulders. We are able to easily do this with the Tobii X2 mobile device stand. The moderator is able to observe the screen recording on a separate monitor and follow up with relevant questioning.
For mobile apps which are used on the go in various usability scenarios, we can also simulate these environments in the study. Setting the right context for a task helps to ensure that we’re getting relevant feedback since participant’s response may change depending on the context.
We have seen recurring themes in tests :
1. Users want to start using the app immediately after startup. They do not want to go through lengthy signup process or multi-page tours before even seeing what the app does.
2. Users are familiar with and expect interactions commonly used in their mobile device operating system (for example, using external back on android, or using spinning wheels for date/number selection on iPhone). It allows for easier learning to reuse these standard interactions.
Website Usability Testing
Today, when we discuss websites, its no longer just the desktop version, websites have to displayed on desktop, phones and tablets as mobile devices become as popular as desktop for surfing the web. So, when it comes to testing websites, we should consider multi-platform testing to understand if there are any differences to the user experience when viewing the website from different platforms.
Using eye tracking for website usability testing gives the additional advantage of understanding subtle interactions which we otherwise won’t know of. For example, below is the gaze path of a participant for 2 airline booking page. From looking at the gaze path, we can see that with the website on the left, user has to search harder (and all over the page) to find the information that he needs, with the website on the right, there is a more controlled search for the neccesary information, looking first at the date and then for time of flight before making a selection. We can tell from the gaze path that website on the right would be more efficient.
Form Usability Testing
User filled forms are often a neglected interaction be it physical forms or web forms. However, this is an area which could result in additional costs to the company or lost of sales due to time spent processing incomplete or wrongly filled up forms.
Paper Prototype Concept Testing
In Singapore with Singtel, we recently conducted early concept tests with paper prototypes. Conducted early in the design phase, paper prototype tests are useful to gather input before further refining design concepts. At this stage, less effort has been put into the development of an interactive prototype and its easier to convince stakeholders of changes required. By selecting the right participants, they are also given more freedom to suggest changes when interacting with paper prototypes since its obvious that the app is not finalised.
Interactive Prototype Usability Testing
With the rise of lean design, we have also adapted our processes to allow for lean usability testing. We often utilise prototyping tools such as Axure and POP to quickly create interactive prototypes for testing. We can then test participants within a day, and deliver the report the following day, allowing for fast turnaround as well as a lower cost structure that allows for repeated testing with each design iteration.
Combining contextual Inquiry with eye tracking for business applications
As we move to look at business applications, system complexity increases exponentially. Experts in using a business application are often moving and thinking at such a fast pace, that it is difficult to understand what is happening by purely observing the test session. Experts may not be able to answer our questions very well either since many of their actions have become muscle memory. For such scenarios, we can combine eye tracking with contextual inquiry to better understanding the usability and user experience of the business application. Read our article on UX Magazine.
You can read more about usability testing in Singapore on our Objective Asia website.