Interface Prototyping and Usability Testing

19 Aug 2009 - 6:59pm
4 years ago
7 replies
1256 reads
Kim Burgess
2009

I'm currently in the process of developing a touch based interface
for AV system control. When deployed, the interface will be operating
on proprietry touch input hardware however I'm looking into
technologies I can utilize during the development and user testing
phase.

Users involved in the testing are geographically distributed so I'm
looking for tools I can use to quickly push out interface concepts
for feedback. The interface is rather simple and does not utilize
multi-touch or rely heavily on gestural input, however it does
utilize a live video stream (which will be emulated for testing).

I'm currently leaning towards just using flash for prototypes as I
can host it locally and have the remote users connect in without
requiring any additional hardware or software. My main concern is
that they will be interfacing with it via a mouse rather than touch
input. I don't think this will be a deal breaker given the
simplicity of it, however I'm curious as to what others have done in
this situation.

Cheers.

Comments

20 Aug 2009 - 7:27am
brendon.cornwel...
2009

Along the same lines as Flash you could look at the new Adobe Catalyst
/ Thermo.

-Brendon

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20 Aug 2009 - 8:56am
Chris Heckler
2007

Silverlight 3 might be helpful for high-fidelity prototypes as it
supposed to have touch capability.

http://timheuer.com/blog/archive/2009/07/30/silverlight-3-multi-touch-introduction-fundamentals-basics.aspx

We haven't tried it yet, but I've heard our developers make some
"oh cool" comments.

If users won't have the touch hardware, can you mimic that
experience with a larger finger-tip sized cursor to test your
layout?

If you're doing more sketchy prototypes something like the
Sketchflow in Expression Blend or Axure might help you generate quick
iterative designs.

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20 Aug 2009 - 10:52am
Dan Harrelson
2007

It sounds like you are mostly worried about getting good feedback from
users when they are using clicks instead of touches. This is an
understandable concern as touch experiences can be quite different.

Without shipping touchscreen hardware to users, you will need to find
some sort of proxy for the mouse. I wonder if asking the users to
touch their screen with one hand while also moving the mouse to the
same position could help? Asking users to even just pause and touch
the screen to note how that "feels" and what on the interface is
obscured could return interesting insights. Record a video of
yourself doing these acts to show users how you'd like them to
"fake it".

Another aspect you might think about simulating is the performance of
your hardware. Often small, embedded devices are slower than desktop
PC's. Embedded devices often have slower screen refresh times as
well. Simulating this could provide useful. I had to do this when
prototyping an e-ink interface and found that replicating that
strange white/black/white flash you see on the Kindle to be pretty
easy and very eye opening..

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Aug 2009 - 2:29pm
.pauric
2006

Kim: "I'm looking for tools I can use to quickly push out interface
concepts for feedback."

I would ask myself in this position, what am I looking for feedback
on?

Presentation layer interaction or user's workflow?

If you're still focused on workflow I feel there are better mediums
to communicate the design intention than an interactive mockup.
Wireflows might suit your needs as a way to communicate intended
workflows & interaction concepts to remote users
http://wireframes.linowski.ca/2009/08/mixed-scale-wireflow/

If you're happy that you understand the user's workflow and want to
ensure they can interact with the system 'intuitively' then be aware
of the limitations of presenting interactive concepts which are out of
context of the larger system and/or have incomplete workflow paths.
If what you present to them looks like 99% real deal and they hit a
weird limitation of your mockup medium - the 'suspension of
disbelief' game is blown along with the value of any feedback.

Ideally you would be able to communicate design intent with the user
and walk them through concepts. As you do not have this luxury I
would say that if I was in your shoes I'd make a call on how much
effort I would be willing to put in to my mockup to get over what I
describe as the uncanny valley of prototypes: a level of fidelity
that is neither sketchy enough for suspension of disbelief or
complete enough to be realistic.

Here's a simple graph explaining my thinking
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2631/3821432978_c16df589f1_o.png

regards /pauric

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Aug 2009 - 6:33pm
Kim Burgess
2009

Thanks all for the suggestions so far. Our research has shown that the
system is going to have to be accessable to users who can barely use a
computer through to those who are complete tech geeks. As such this
usability testing is being used to gather quantitative data that we
have reached usability goals with an established design before
creating a fully functional version. Additionally we are needing to
verify that the iconography and semantics are properly interpreted
across our sample user base.

I really like the idea of implimenting a 'finger cursor' or even
taking it further so that it masks the full area that would be
obfuscated by a average size hand.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Aug 2009 - 9:04pm
Toby Biddle
2009

Not your traditional user testing approach, but great when your target
audience are geographically dispersed, a tool like Loop11
(www.loop11.com) can help you gather quant usability data on any
clicakble interface.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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6 Sep 2009 - 9:37pm
Ron George
2009

Blend 3 with Sketchflow is the answer. Sketchflow can build simple
animations that you just play or you can build interactive
prototypes. The really cool thing is that Sketchflow builds out a
menu system on the left hand side with all of your prototypes at the
default exported HTML, so the users can click through them, reload
them, and see all the different versions. Then the user can click at
the bottom left and insert feedback, draw callouts, then export it
and send it to you. Its very cool. In the interest of disclosure, I
work at MSFT.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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