While conducting my own testing on Papa John’s online ordering, I was surprised to witness as many usability issues in action as I did. My participant was a former colleague of mine with a background in software testing, so I expected him to be able to navigate all tasks effortlessly. He’s used to far bigger and complex usability issues, and still there were times when he had to hesitate or made a mistake performing tasks. Going through that testing made our final assignment an exciting endeavor, since I knew my peers’ videos would likely uncover much more than my own.
This ended up falling in line with expectations. Each of the three assessments provided great insight into areas where common usability issues may occur, and everyone seemed to do a great job ‘thinking aloud’. I was able to make determinations about areas of opportunity that I felt confident about after watching four individuals go through the same testing. The assignment and our class as a whole was an eye opening experience as to the prevalence of usability issues online. Surely companies such as Papa John’s have robust design teams, and go through countless iterations, yet still opportunities for improvement exist and they’re not hard to find. It gives me great confidence moving forward in my academics to see how great the need is for usability review.
This weeks assignment required us to play the role of moderator, using our provided script and tasks. It was a difficult exercise; I found myself biting my tongue to refrain from speaking at times, and potentially leading my participant. I was fortunate to have found a participant that has a background in quality assurance for software companies, and had familiarity with think-aloud protocols. He did a great job verbalizing his thoughts, and provided great feedback. If I had chosen a candidate who had less experience, it would have been much more challenging.
If I had to do the assignment over, I would make more alterations to the script, and make it tailored to the individual I would be speaking with. This way, it would feel more natural to the participant and keep things moving smoothly. Overall, I was pleased with how I moderated this assignment. I was nervous, because I knew there was no restart button once a participant had seen testing materials. I was concerned too that my software wouldn’t work out properly and data would be lost as a result.
There were times when I got a little off-task trying to build rapport with my participant and make the experience a little more conversational. I definitely need more practice in order to pull this off effectively, but overall I think things stayed on track fairly well.
When I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I worked in call center management for a really cool technology company. It was not the most glamorous job, but I enjoyed it, and I learned something about myself: I love metrics. Not so much a math-lover, I have always recognized the usefulness of statistics. Working in this role allowed exposed me to several different ways to track and report this data. This week’s assignment allowed me to think critically about which quantitative approaches may be most useful in the context of a food company such as Chipotle, and represent this data in a way that would be useful in a usability report.
I chose time-on-task testing, but there were a few I thought were good selections. I wanted to capture (between product versions) which approaches were the most efficient for the user. Admittedly, I made some assumptions. I know that most (Chipotle) users have in mind what they like to eat from the establishment. I went on a company lunch once and was astounded to watch 40 people rattle off exactly what they wanted, each with little nuances. Keeping this in mind, I made efficiency my top priority for testing. I wanted to be able to say, “this design took users less time to use successfully, therefore required less cognition, therefore is a better design”. Sometimes conclusions such as these are hard to draw with only one form of quantitative data. I feel as though the approach I chose was an effective one, especially when looking at the data visually. It’s easy for an executive to understand two pieces of data compared to one another in the form of a chart, and see what is working, and what isn’t.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to do group work this week. Seeing different approaches and having discussions about them has benefitted me greatly throughout my coursework here at Kent. It seems that design more than about anything else benefits from having more and more input. As someone whose love of design stems from aesthetics, my favorite distinction between people’s work is style. I have already picked up a few tips and tricks for formatting and style from my peers.
Going through the process of creating a screener and tasks was not easy for me. Luckily enough, pizza companies are very relatable for most people, and a fun business to work around. I was also grateful for my assigned group: advanced users. I like to think that I have membership to this group. I’m now at my 3rd university and well-versed in making use of online ordering platforms, ever since they became available in the past 10 or so years. I leveraged this experience and thought back to countless interactions with similar companies to form this document.
Because we were working around a pizza company, I chose to use scenarios heavily. I think it’s safe to say that even novice users have enough experience with pizza- either their own or from others- to find my scenarios relatable. I crafted six scenarios to work around my twenty-or-so questions in order to get the most out of my participants, and they were very useful in this case to help me find the information I was looking for.
For this week’s assignment, I chose to use a more formal approach with a written document. Our scenario described high-level executives as key stakeholders, so it made sense to build an argument with a written report that could be quickly interpreted and available for later reference. This allowed me to put the situation into context and build a strong case for formative testing. I tried to layout my document in a way that it could be understood just at a glance by emphasizing key points with bold (or in this case, regular) weighted font. A very brief one sentence summary is put at the bottom for the most reluctant readers.
It made sense to me to choose formative testing for several reasons. The situation given to us made summative testing challenging. No working prototype was in place, we had no baseline for testing, and there wasn’t enough time for competitive review. Using formative testing just made sense with time constraints that were involved, because it allowed for evaluation along the way, and iterated testing. This approach give the pizza company (Pizza Pan in my case) its best odds for releasing a sound online service. It was a goal to keep the document to one page, with relatively small text areas for easy scanning. This was to make the information and main points easily accessible to all people involved with the project.
This week’s assignment was an interesting practice in persuasive communication. Having to form a persuasive proposal based on the premise of researching with a small sample size was unlike anything I have done up to this point in my UXD program with Kent. I was surprised to find in our readings how meaningful usability research can be with such small groups – even a group as small as one. After some reflection though, it does make sense. If there are true usability obstacles, it should require statistically significant groups to uncover them.
I also read an article this weekend about how UI tweaks enabled a company called Next-door reduced posts considered racist on their platform. They recently had received criticism for becoming a home for racial profiling based on their “Crime and Safety” forum, and decided to take steps to change it. In order to combat this, they added text fields that required people to describe (from head to toe) the clothing of people they were reporting to be acting “suspiciously”. This prevented people from profiling purely on race, and forced them to consider whether or not the actions of these people were, in fact, suspicious.
This week was spent primarily reviewing portfolios and understanding the wide array of ways UX professionals portray their work online. A strong portfolio is indispensable to anyone looking to build a career in user experience, and I’m grateful for an opportunity to practice developing my own. As someone relatively new to the field of User Experience, I’m a little intimidated by all of the professionals with decorated portfolios that are out there.
I revisited one of the portfolios I drew inspiration from during my first course with KSU, that of a practitioner named Brandon. He was involved with many cool projects, one of which was called “Audience”, an award winning entry in a sponsored design competition. I enjoy learning about the process that designers go through that lead them to a finished project, and this particular portfolio very well represents all of the steps along the way.
Moving forward, I’ll continue to take bits and pieces of inspiration from different portfolios online. One of my favorite aspects of design is the individual touch that is applied to everything. I look forward to becoming a more competent designer, and being able to represent that work in a solid portfolio.