Usability testing exercise

For today's exercise, you will be preparing and carrying out a usability test. This will invovle:

For each pair of students who prepared a low-fidelity prototype during Tuesday's class, one student will be designated "tester #1" and the other student will be designated "tester #2". The following table provides the (very tight) timeline we'll be following:

role25 minutes (in teams)10 minutes (solo)10 minutes (solo)5 minutes (in teams)remainder (in teams)
Usability tester #1 usability test preparation usability testing of subject 1 (from another team) being test subject 2 for another team summarizing results of test session document findings and post to Moodle
Usability tester #2 usability test preparation being test subject 1 for another team usability testing of subject 2 (from another team) summarizing results of test session document findings and post to Moodle


Your first task is to decide on the test focus, that is, the most important usability objective(s) for the system being tested. For example, do you care most about ease of learning, speed of task completion, number of errors made, general user satisfaction with the result, or some other factor entirely? This choice may be partly subjective, but it should make sense given your expectations of the intended user population and their needs for using the system.

Ordinarily, you would then choose a user focus, but in this highly constrained exercise, you don't have much choice, since you only have access to two test subjects. Tough luck.

Next, you need to decide on the test task, that is, what is the function that you want your users to perform with the system being tested? Although at different stages of evolution of your own project, you may want to test different functionality, for this exercise, you should decide on two or three tasks that you believe are most critical to the successful use of the system.

Now that you have decided what the test will focus on, and what tasks the users will be performing, it's time to prepare the testing materials. In general, these materials might include:

However, for today, we're going to concentrate on only two of these items:

As you might appreciate, it is exceedingly difficult for one person to facilitate the test, observe the test subject, and take notes for entry into such a form. This is why usability testing is typically carried out be teams of at least two people. Again, today, you don't have that luxury. You get to run the test solo and try to remember what you observe during the test.

Since you can assume that your classmates all understand the point of this exercise, we're going to skip the user introduction. Your test subjects know why they're here.

Once you've completed the solo components, get back together with your partner and debrief. Discuss the results of your test sessions and identify any common elements (if any) that you observed.

For the final phase of this exercise, prepare a document summarizing your ideation (sketching), prototyping, and testing process, focussing on the following items, and post the document on the Usability Testing Exercise forum:

And last thing: please include your names (since only of you should post on behalf of the pair)!