I have presented my piece to my family and friends in order to see whether they think it will be successful and to help me gain feedback and improvements, as well as to help me decide which objects to use (shapes/stick figures/software icons). It is important to gain feedback from users as it means I can improve my piece to make it more appealing and suitable for its purpose. It relates to the iterative design process as I am engaging with users in order to help develop and improve my piece. Before showing my piece, I came up with some qualitative usability questions to ask and here are the concluded responses from the multiple users…
- Which object do you prefer?
The majority of people preferred the shapes as they thought this idea worked and looked best. There were a couple that liked the stick men figures as they thought it looked more unusual and interesting. None of the users preferred the software icons.
- Discuss what appeals you to interact with the piece?
The majority felt that the bright colours stood out a lot and helps make the piece look more appealing. They also liked the fact it involved camera interaction and thought this worked well.
- Discuss what you like about the piece?
The majority liked the black and white video capture contrasting with the bright coloured objects and thought this worked well. They liked how they could use any part of there body to interact and obstruct the objects. The simplicity of the piece also meant anyone could easily interact without any difficulty.
- Discuss what you understand about the piece?
Everyone understood that it is camera interaction where you can obstruct the falling shapes. However, some couldn’t understand what the point of the interactive piece was. When discussing the concept of surrealism and the blurring boundaries between the real and the imaginary/simulated, this helped their understanding but younger family members portrayed the piece as more game-like.
- What improvements would you suggest?
A common suggested improvement was that I could experiment with adding more of each the shapes. Also, another common suggested improvement was to make the range of the sizes of the objects more varied. Some users suggested that I could make the piece more game-like and have a point system so that if an object falls, they loose a life. They felt that if it was to be made into a game, the objects needed to fall faster in order to make it a bit harder, as well as possibly to use shapes as decoys. For example, you only loose a life if a square falls and the other shapes are just there to distract you. A big improvement that has come to my attention is that the video capture needs to be mirrored. At the moment, when you lift up your hand, the screen flips it so it is the opposite side. This makes it a bit confusing for users to interact with as the video capture is reversed.
Moores (2005, p.112) suggests:
‘the ways in which individuals make sense of media products vary according to their social background and circumstances, so that the same message may be understood in differing ways in different contexts.’
This can apply to the user testing I carried out on my family due to the varied range of ages from 12-80. Each individual makes sense of the piece in their own way and denotes different meanings and messages. In particular, I found that the younger members saw it being game-like and the older members (grandparents) did not really understand it. This can relate to Jenkins idea of the ‘digital divide’ and how different age generations access and use of new technologies varies. Due to my target audience all being a similar age (students), I feel that there will be some more common denotations from interacting with my piece. However, as Jenkins suggests it is hard to understand the complexity of audiences. Due to this complexity, I’m aware that individuals may denote the messages and concept of my piece in multiple ways, peoples behaviour may differ and my expectations of the audience may be challenged.
Overall, testing the piece with family and friends has helped me a lot. I have now decided that I will use shapes as the falling objects as this was the most agreed upon response. Also, I am pleased with the visuals and think the bright colours on the black and white video capture is an element that is appealing and liked by users. Due to some of my family being younger than my aimed audience, some didn’t fully understand the piece and the concept. However in the public space, due to my target audience being students, they will hopefully understand the piece better. From carrying out this testing, it has helped me to gain lots of feedback which will enable me to improve my piece to make it more successful. The improvements were all very useful and I will take each of them on board. I need to ensure that next I edit the code to mirror the video capture as this could make it confusing for users and put them off interacting with my piece.
Jenkins, H, 2008. Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. London: New York University Press.
Moores, S, 2005. Media/Theory. Thinking about Media and Communications. London and New York: Routledge.