Working with Objective Experience is…

One of the best things about working with Objective Experience for me…

I like the autonomy that Objective Experience offers. I get to design and structure my client’s research studies based on their needs. The working environment is also great, with teamwork taking the forefront. Everyone pitches in, be it for a study, a demo that we need to present to a prospective client or a booth at UXSG2014!

Senior User Experience Consultant

…is the opportunity to travel and meet people from different cultures. In the span of a few weeks, I was in Mumbai, Delhi and Hong Kong as well. As a UX consultant, I believe that getting away from one’s desk and connecting with people will make me a better designer and researcher.

Gowri Penkar
User Experience Consultant

…is to have that comfortable space to be able to ask for help and everyone pitches in to do so (they even offer their assistance before you even know that you need it). It’s a great way to learn!

Lynette Goh
User Experience Consultant

…is being able to improve the quality of people’s life by doing research with people all over the globe. Learning how different cultures shaped people’s perception about things to help my client view their customer lives from their customer’s point of view.

Yeo Poh Khim (PK)
User Experience Consultant

Working at Objective Experience has really been enlightening and it was really an eye-opener for me. I am able to meet different people and gain  more insights about their expectations and needs, in regards to user experience. My interest and perception towards user experience had also been improved,  as I feel that I am able to understand how user experience design and actually have an influence in user experience.

Ji Li
Intern (Student at Republic Polytechnic)

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.


Is your UX research strategic?

Usability Testing Singapore

I just read this Quirk’s article that talked about what qualitative researchers and UX’ers can learn from each other. This is true but it didn’t even mention strategy or delighting clients!

I constantly see very expensive market research reports and usability testing reports that add no value whatsoever!

When I started in usability, the researchers who understood technology did it. Then, as the field morphed into UX, these people started designing interfaces based on an
understanding of human behaviour and decision-making workflow. This became
popular and designers and developers realised that they could engage more
clients by picking up the UX label. I was horrified!

Prior to a job interview, I email a potential staff and ask:

“What research with real people have you done?”

Research skills are always mandatory in my job ads; but I am seriously sick of potential employees telling me they have only done some stakeholder interviews and a couple of focus groups!

My problem with UX’ers is that they should have hours of research under their belt, as well as be able to put pen to paper in a design sense. If they do not, how can they be considered user-centred? How can they possibly empathise with users?

The article suggests that UX’ers should understand qualitative researcher too. In general, qualitative market researchers  are great at finding out what people need and this to clients. UX’ers must know how to do this this; but clients want more! They want strategic action-oriented solutions to their problems. They need prioritised lists of recommendations that may well include re-design suggestions.

The solution here is not to find people who understand both qualitative research and UX or to teach this. Instead, we have to find or teach practitioners to understand the strategic nature of what they are delivering.

If clients are told what they already know, and are not given the next steps to take, then they will be pissed off!

If the research and UX industries do not step up onto a strategic platform then they will fail.

At Objective Asia we understand the importance of Priortised Actionable Recommendations. We tell clients what happened, why it happened and exactly what to do to fix it and improve their business. 

If you want to take a step forward in your business please email me:

Save time and money with Rapid Usability Tests

In 2014, We have been having incredible success with Rapid Usability Test and Eye Tracking! In Singapore, companies like Singtel and DBS Bank run these Rapid usability tests weekly. They iterate designs on various projects from mobile app to transactional websites.

“Rapid Usability Testing in UX is a powerful method. It is cheap and can be done quicker than traditional methods. It is easy to incorporate rapid usability testing within tight project schedules.” 

Agile usability testing saves time and money

How do we do Rapid Usability Testing with Eye Tracking?

When we are working in Agile development projects for a client who wants to iteratively validate the concept for, say a mobile app. The objective is to get quick feedback, from real customers, on the concept.

We run the projects like a formal usability test, which includes:

  • Formal usability testing scripts that are signed off by the client
  • Use of highly accurate Tobii X2-30 Eye trackers
  • Formal lab setting with viewing from our special Brainstorming Room or live online with Adobe Connect.

We have to do this quickly and we mandate that all relevant project team members come to the session and actively participate in solutioning during and after each test. When they leave for the day most UI improvement decisions have been made and our summary report becomes checklist of things that were agreed.

Here’s the steps to run an Rapid Usability Test

Step 1: Decide on what you want to usability test

The best part about Rapid Usability testing is that you can get started with just about any working (or non-working) products! For the test that we conducted, the concept was rather high level, with no working prototype to speak of. So we did the next best thing, mobile paper prototypes!

Mobile app paper prototypes that were used to Rapid Usability test the concept

Mobile app paper prototypes that were used to Rapid Usability test concepts

Since the product is in its earliest stages, it can literally be shaped by user expectations. You must tailor the test based on the insights you want to gain.

For instance, our client wanted to gauge the audience’s response to an unorthodox method of online shopping. We asked our client the following:

  • What user journey are you expecting to deliver positive business outcomes?
  • Which pages/features are of most interest?
  • Are there specific copy, navigation or UI elements we want feedback on?

Tasks were therefore created around navigation and and customers filtering their search down to a specific product. This helped establish if the user journey was as smooth as intended.

Step 2: Pick your usability test participants quickly

As with any usability test you should still have a specific demographic, you won’t have time to be super specific.  We use our SG Research Network platform to recruit people really really quickly using social media. We’re talking about recruiting people in one-day, the day before the test! If you like, we offer recruitment for your projects too.

Step 3: TEST!

The Rapid Usability Test for this mobile product was done with 5 or 6 people, individually in a lab or it could have been done in a spare room at our client’s office.

As with formal usability testing, prepare a script that details each task. Keep tasks short and focused and test for about 45min each.  You can fit about 3 tasks in one Rapid Testing session.

This video shows how eye tracking can be used on a mobile app.

We do find that eye tracking facilitates a better Rapid Usability Test, as it allows the observers to see exactly how people do things in real time. They can interpret very easily why participants are having trouble and begin making their design decisions immediately.

Here’s 5 Rapid Usability Testing tips for the session

1. Introduce yourself and the purpose of the test: Say hello! Explain what is about to happen. It is important to stress to the participant, that the product is being tested, not them. Tell them they are being video recorded.

2. Keep it light: It is important to put the participant at ease in order to get honest feedback.  Crack a joke, be genuinely interested in the participant’s interests and have a genial approach.

3. Get them on your side: Allow participants to contribute to the product. Ask them what their solution would be to a certain issue they were having.

4. Try not to lead participants: It’s easy to get subjective about a product, especially if you are the creator!

Some leading and closed questions are:

    • “Does the slowness of the application frustrate you?”
    • “Does the colour theme of the UI frustrate you?”
    • “Are you unhappy because you are unable to figure out the navigation?”

Here are some open-ended questions that fit into almost every user interview:

    • What do you think?
    • How do you feel about using it this way?
    • What would you do next?
    • How would you expect it to work?

Users open up with interesting points of view when questioned in this manner. It is also important to use silence effectively during user interviews. Silence is a powerful tool that naturally prompts the interviewee to fill the void.

For Rapid Usability Testing you MUST mandate stakeholders watch and participate in vigorous discussion: It always helps when people who are involved with the product development, are invited to watch tests. The result is almost always a more understanding development team and managers who will take key decisions soon after the testing. It also means you don’t need to write a long report. They already know what needs fixing!

Here’s some tips for effective Rapid Usability testing observation:

  • Ensure observers can see the participants eye gaze live on a large screen
  • Check in with clients to see that they are happy with the facilitation process and modify it if necessary
  • Use lot of Postit notes to jot down findings
  • Use a white board to sketch solutions to UI issues
  • Print our key screens of interest and draw on them
  • Encourage discussion
  • After each session run a brief discussion of key findings
  • At the end of the day summarise the findings and, more importantly, they key updates that will be made.

You must use an observer (2nd consultant) for the testing, and they need to be able to facilitate client discussion around the usability observations and potential fixes.

User Experience Consultants and clients brainstorming in our usability lab during a usability testing session

User Experience Consultants and clients brainstorming during an eye tracking study in Singapore

All said and done, lean testing is very flexible. There is no perfect way of doing it.  The heart of the matter is to get quick insights from real people.

For more information about Rapid Usability Testing, please complete the form below.

What is eye tracking?

Objective Asia, a sister company to Objective Digital, Sydney, have bought our specialty; Eye Tracking technology to work hand in hand with our User Experience Design (UX), Usability Testing and Shopper Research services in Singapore!

Many of you must have heard of the eye tracking technology Samsung have brought into their new mobile phone Galaxy S4.

So what is eye tracking?

In simple words, eye tracking is a hardware technology made by Tobii that traces the movements of your eye in any situation.

How does the eye get tracked?

We see things because light enters our pupil, the light is brought together and the concentrated light sent into the back of the eye, where the retina is.

In eye tracking, the eye tracker produces a infrared ray that reflects off the retina to track the movement of the eye on the product/program they are testing on. Read about how eye tracking works.

So what?

With the eye tracking technology, companies can better understand what is good for their customers and where the users are actually looking. When eye tracking technology is included in usability study/research, we get a better insight as the researcher will be able to see user’s eye movements, and in turn cognitive patterns. These data can then be used to derive and assess the success of the product/software application.

And how does it help to improve our lives?

Simply, when companies/developers understand how users respond in real life to their product/software in prototype or final form, they could make the relevant changes. Such real data helps tremendously to reduce guesswork, and offers designers to focus on the real world challenges that users are currently facing.

How does a eye tracker looks like?

Back in the days, participants for the eye tracking study have to wear a big, bulky, intimidating looking headgear over their head throughout the research session.

Then what kind of eye trackers are we using?

Don’t worry, we are not going to make any participant wear big, bulky and intimidating looking headgear over your head for the entire research session.

Here are some images of what we are using:

For mobile eye tracking, we are using Tobii Glasses (as shown in Fig A & B below)

Fig A (Tobii glasses)                                       Fig B (Participant wearing Tobii glasses)

Tobii Eye Trackers in Singapore

For on-screen eye tracking, we are using Tobii X2-30 & TX300 eye trackers        (as shown in Fig A, B & C below).

Fig A (Tobii X2-30 eye trackers)

Tobii X2 eye tracker in Singapore

Fig B (Tobii X2-30 eye tracker mounted on screen of different sizes)

Fig C (Tobii TX300 eye tracker)

If you are interested and want to know more about how to run a usability session eye tracking, check out this article on Retrospective Think Aloud!

Now, share your thoughts and questions with us!

1) Have you ever tried/seen an eye tracker before?

2) How many of you are interested to know how we collaborate eye tracking technology with usability research?

3) How many of you have participated in a market research or usability research sessions before? Share with us how did your research session went!

To find out more Please email us on or call James Breeze on +65 8201 7285

PK Yeo