What is Agile User Research?

User research in a tight timeline and budget is not impossible. In fact, it is already happening now. All you require are the quality voices of a handful of customers to test and validate your work using an agile user research method.

So what is the core difference between agile and a full user research method? Fewer number of participants are being tested in agile as compared to the full method. But does that mean lesser quality data? No.

One of the early usability gurus, Jakob Nielsen’s research suggested that with only 5 users, 85% of usability problems can be found. For a full user research method, 12 users can find almost 99% of the usability problems. For those who think that user research is too costly and elaborate, a small and agile user research method with frequent testing suits better (as many as the budget allows).

The other difference between agile and full user research is that there will less tasks covered during the testing. To overcome this, test and iterate the product’s features and functions in smaller chunks until it achieves its bigger goal, which is part of the agile manifesto.

Planning and communication are the keys to conducting a great agile user research. Early strategizing occurring at the previous development cycle helps. All of these information and ideas in the early planning phase should be communicated frequently to the user research team so that any issues can be ironed out quickly and for resource management to occur efficiently.

Here in Objective Experience, the entire testing to reporting phase takes only 2 days.  The planning beforehand from the kick-off workshop takes 2 days. Ideally, everything happens within 4 days as illustrated below.

Agile user testing in Singapore

For agile user research, there is no need for testing a large number of users as then it defeats the purpose of the word ‘agile’, which means quick. Testing 5 users who are selected carefully and thoroughly screened to ensure the best participant quality of the targeted user segment is good. Each testing session covers around 2-3 main tasks or user flows within 45 minutes.

It is compulsory for the product design and development team members to sit in and observe the testing sessions as it goes on. Why? To immediately get a sense of what users actually need and iterate on the spot or the next day.

In our agile user research sessions, we also use eye tracking as a way to gain direct insight into how the product is used and what users struggle with. Eye tracking allows observers of the testing to see users’ unconscious behavior in real time, and enables stakeholders to make instant decisions about solutions to interface problems.

At Objective Experience, we have the facilities for team members and other stakeholders to observe the live sessions in person at our viewing room or remotely via a web link. The remote viewing link is great if you have overseas members interested in observing what goes on during the user research. We’ve got a really comfortable space complete with refreshments too!

OESGviewingroom

Take a peek at our viewing room!

After all the testing sessions are done, a brief workshop with the research moderator is held with the observing team members to discuss the key findings from the users, brainstorm some solutions together and actualize the results for the next development. The next day, a report cementing the top 10 most impactful findings with the actionable design recommendations will be produced.

oesg_agilereportsampleSLIDELet us help you make incremental improvements to the user experience of your products, thus driving business growth. Drop us a line at infosg@objectiveexperience.com or call +65 67374511 to discuss your needs now.

Marine drive

Mobile App Eye Tracking Research in Mumbai, India!

Objective Experience recently delivered mobile app user research with a Tobii eye tracker in Mumbai, India!

Marine Drive on the way to usability testing in Mumbai

Marine Drive, also known as the Queen’s Necklace

I traveled from Singapore to Mumbai to run the study and felt the difference as soon as I touched down at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport . With the monsoons in full swing, Mumbai was rather pleasant but the traffic was out of control. The good people of Mumbai made up for it though, with participants braving the rain and the bad traffic to participate in the study. The participants were a colourful bunch, ranging from affluent business people to IT consultants and entrepreneurs.

Mumbai User Testing Lab

A busy intersection on the way to the user testing lab

Having run a number of usability studies in Singapore, I noticed a distinct difference in Indian respondents. For starters, the incentive to participate in studies is the sense of importance Indian respondents get when they are told that their insights could help shape a product. Objective’s recruiting partner had to build a relationship with each of the respondents by keeping in touch with them before the study, often listening to their friendly banter. When it was time for the study, bad weather and traffic conditions barely dampened the spirits of the respondents. They enthusiastically participated in the study while providing a peek into their personal lives as well.

User testing with Objective Experience

User testing with a mobile device stand in Mumbai

User interview with mobile apps in Mumbai

Here are a few key points to take note of when running a study in Mumbai, India.

Respondents naturally feel the pressure to perform, characteristic of the need to stand out from the crowd. It will help to make them feel completely at ease by doing the following:

  • You are not being tested! Reminding them time and time again that the digital offering (website/app) is being tested and not them.
  • Speak Hinglish. Encourage them to speak in a language they are comfortable with. Being an Indian who could speak Hindi myself, it was easy to get participants to open up. While most Indians speak English, they will invariably slip into “Hinglish” when they are comfortable.
  • Your ideas are important. Letting them know that their ideas and suggestions will help to shape the product and will help to improve the user experience.
  • Interesting but too much information. Indians are a rather affable lot. Don’t be surprised if they speak a lot, sometimes broaching topics about their personal lives. Steer them back gently to the topic at hand, if what they are saying is not very relevant.
  • It’s not your fault. People here tend to blame themselves a lot if they aren’t able to complete a task and may not admit that a certain task was difficult. This is where eye tracking comes in handy. Use the eye tracking videos during the retrospective think aloud process to probe portions of tasks where they seemed confused or disoriented.

 On the whole, the study yielded a lot of interesting insights and put to rest quite a few boardroom discussions. The result is that the client’s business now has a clear cut direction to work towards! For more information on running a usability study in India, please contact jbreeze@objectiveexperience.com or call us at +65 6737 4511

P.S. We can run studies in any country and have Mandarin, Bahasa, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hindi and English speakers to execute the user research.

Gowri Penkar

On the way to usability testing in Mombai

A street vendor on Marine Drive on the way to the user testing lab

Portable eye tracking – Tobii Glasses 2

Tobii has recently announced the release of their new mobile eye-tracking glasses – Tobii Glasses 2!

Tobii Glasses 2 reveal what a person is looking at while they are engaged with real world environments and in other activities. They are the successor of the original Tobii Glasses, but come with a whole range of boastful upgrades to solidify their place as the future of mobile eye-tracking.

Buy Tobii Glasses 2

Tobii Glasses 2 Eye Tracker available in Singapore soon!

The glasses only weigh a tiny 45 grams and come with an upgraded wide angle HD scene camera and clear rims for optimal viewing. A new wireless feature allows for remote LIVE viewing so that others can instantly view what the user sees! With Binocular eye-tracking for improved accuracy and 1920×1080 pixel scene recordings, this new piece of technology will be in high demand as researchers discover more and more ways to use the technology in innovative ways.

 

New in Tobii Glasses 2 eye tracker

Live view — allows researchers to see exactly what a person is looking at, wirelessly and in real time. Gain immediate and actionable insights to tailor your retrospective interview prompts.

True view — provides complete freedom of viewing for the wearer thanks to the wide-angle HD scene camera and four eye cameras in a thin frame. Secure valid research by accommodating peripheral vision and natural viewing behavior.

Flexible mapping tool — significantly reduces time for coding videos. Efficiently aggregate and process data from multiple test participants for specific study objects. No more IR markers!

Lightweight, unobtrusive design — feels like a regular pair of sports glasses at only 45 grams. Give participants maximum freedom of movement to behave naturally.

Here’s a recent webinar from Tobii on Tobii Glasses 2 eye tracker

Usability Testing for Digital in Singapore

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?)

Objective Asia's usability testing lab in SIngapore on High St

An usability test facilitated in our Singapore lab.

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.

X2-30 Eye tracker Mobile Device Stand from Tobii in Singapore

Video Recording of mobile app test (red dots shows where the users are looking at)

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.

Mobile Device eye tracking simulation

Eye Tracking in Objective Asia lab in Singapore – Taxi simulation

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.

Eye Tracking Heat Map on Airlines websites

Gaze plots for 2 different website designs

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.

 

GE Capital shows the way with a high-tech eye tracking lab

And example set up of an eye tracking lab in Melbourne Australia

Eye Tracking the Customer Experience

General Electric (GE) is a household name synonymous to innovation. Objective Digital recently teamed up with the User Experience (UX) team at GE Capital in Melbourne to help setup their next-generation eye tracking lab in Melbourne as part of their new UX initiatives. It was a lab that made even our experienced eye tracking consultants drool. So what was so special about the eye tracking setup?

Let’s look at how the setup was designed to ensure that every step of a usability session would run smoothly:

Interviewing

The eye tracking testing lab in Melbourne is where the action happens. This is where the user or customer comes in contact with the product. GE’s brightly lit and spacious testing lab meant that participants would feel comfortable. Since it looked like someone’s office, participants would not have to go too much out of their own normal working environment.

Traditional usability testing involves…

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Eye Tracking Lab Simulations in Singapore

We have some cool new set ups in our usability testing lab in Singapore!

In a recent iphone eye tracking usability project we used two different set ups during one testing session. We took hi-res images of a convenience store and the back of a taxi that we mounted on Corflute board.  We swapped them depending on the usability testing task that we wanted our test participants to complete whilst we eye tracked them using our Tobii mobile device testing stand for usability testing in Singapore.

Example of our eye tracking usability lab in Singapore
Example of our convenience store simulation in our eye tracking lab in Singapore
Eye Tracking in Objective Asia lab in Singapore - Taxi simulation
Example of our Taxi simulation in our usability lab in Singapore

We would have liked to do this testing with our Tobii Glasses eye tracker in the real world, however, this was not possible due to time and budget constraints.

We found that using this simulation technique really helped put the user into the right the frame of mind. And our client loved it!