User Testing – Family and Friends

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…

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  • 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?20150111_132938

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 piec20150111_132925e 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.

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Initial Testing

I have personally tested my first draft of idea to see if the programming works correctly. As I am still unsure as to what objects to use, I decided to test them all to see which works best, here are the clips showing my tests:

From the test, I found that the object orientated programming all works as expected, when they are on a white pixel, they descend, and when they reach a black pixel they ascend. I did however find that in the software icons examples, they tended to fall in groups at times which is something I will have to resolve if I choose these objects. I think the bright colours on the white background work well as they stand out and make the piece more bright and appealing. As you can see from the tests I have carried out, the brightness thresholding in each example varied slightly. The threshold level in each is the same so this is due to the different time of day and the brightness of the room. Therefore, from this I have learnt that when displaying my piece, I need to edit the threshold to a level where it would work best, to suit the brightness of public space in Weymouth House. Next, I will go on to show my pieces to users, in order to gain feedback as to which object they think works best and other improvements they may have.

Userbility Testing

In a recent s1419225895usability_testingeminar we learnt about usability testing and thought of possible questions to test the usability of an interactive piece example. Usability testing is when you test/evaluate a product with its aimed audience. It is important that I usability text my piece with the target audience as it will allow me to see its suitability and fitness for purpose. As well as allowing me to find out how users behave with the piece and what they experience from it (UX). Kuniavsky (2003, p.18) claims that

‘A good user experience doesn’t guarantee success, but a bad one is nearly always a quick route to failure.’

This shows the importance of carrying out usability tests, as without a satisfied audience my piece would be unsuccessful. He also suggests:

‘What makes a good experience varies from person to person, product to product, and task to task, but a good general definition is to define something as “usable” if it’s functional, efficient, and desirable to its intended audience.’

Carrying out usability tests will allow me to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to determine whether my piece is desirable to its intended audience. Quantitative data is that which deals with numbers, it can be measured and easily analysed and made into graphs/chart. An example of a quantitative question could be ‘Did you understand how to use the piece?’, the responses from this would simply be yes/no, hence allowing you to easily measure/analyse user responses. Qualitative data is that which is more descriptive, giving you individuals own personal opinions and views on the piece. An example of a qualitative question could be ‘Discuss what you like about the piece?’, hence giving you more detailed, quality answers. Quantitative questions are normally used when testing a big group of people as they could be good in order to find out who to target, however the responses aren’t usually very accurate and aren’t detailed enough for you to gain ideas on how to improve the piece and hence follow an iterative design process. Therefore, for my piece it would be best to use qualitative question when carrying out usability tests as it will allow me get more descriptive, useful answers as well as gain more feedback and improvements that I could possibly make. I need to ensure that I word the questions in the correct way in order to get qualitative responses from users as sometimes they can give yes/no responses which wouldn’t be as useful, therefore to do this I could use ‘discuss’/’explain’ in the question which encourages them to give a longer answer. From this, I have learnt a lot more about usability testing and quantitative/qualitative data. It will benefit my piece and means I will follow an iterative design process. Next, I will go on to create a prototype for my piece and test it with the aimed audiences.

Kuniavsky, M, 2003. Observing the User Experience : A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research [online]. Burlington, MA, USA: Morgan Kaufmann.