Save time and money with Rapid Usability Tests

We have been having incredible success in 2014 with Rapid Usability Test Sprints with companies including PayPal, AMP, Amaysim & OPSM who run these usability tests regularly to mitigate risks and make informed design decisions. They iterate designs on various projects from mobile apps to transactional websites.

“Rapid UX Testing is a powerful method. It is cheap and produces results quicker than traditional methods. It is easy to incorporate rapid usability testing within tight project schedules and tight budgets.” 

Rapid Recruit, Research and Results. 

How do we do Rapid Usability Test Sprints?

While working in an agile environment, clients want to iteratively validate a concept or design. This requires customer engagement which to some people means time and money. With our Sprints the objective is to get quick feedback from real customers and put insights into actions… as quickly as within just 1 week turnaround!

We run the projects like a formal usability test, which includes:

  • Formal usability testing scripts that are signed off by the client
  • Clear recruitment brief is defined with fairly broad requirements
  • Formal lab setting with viewing from our special Brainstorming Room or live online with Adobe Connect.

In order to make it most effective we ensure that all relevant project team members come to the session and actively participate during and after each test. When they leave for the day most UI improvement decisions have been made and our summary report becomes a checklist of things that were agreed.

Here’s the steps to run a Rapid Usability Test Sprint

Step 1: Decide on what you want to test

Have a clear research objective!  Identify stimulus to test and no more then 3-5 areas of interest.

Stimulus. The best part about Rapid Usability Testing is that you can get started with just about any working (or non-working) products. For the test that we conducted the concept was rather high level with no working prototype to speak of. So we did the next best thing, mobile paper prototypes!

paper prototypes

Mobile app paper prototypes that were used for Agile UX concept testing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the product is in its earliest stages it can literally be shaped by user expectations.

Areas of interest.  You must tailor the test based on the insights you want to gain.  For instance our client wanted to gauge the audience’s response to an unorthodox method of online shopping. We asked our client the following:

  • What user journey are you expecting to deliver positive business outcomes?
  • Which pages/features are of most interest?
  • Are there specific copy, navigation or UI elements we want feedback on?

Tasks were therefore created around navigation and customers filtering their search down to a specific product. This helped establish if the user journey was as smooth as intended.

Step 2: Quick, reliable resource for participants

As with any usability test you should have specific customer segments & demographics. With rapid turn times on recruitment that might mean they need to be fairly broad specs.  We use our Sydney Research Network platform to recruit people really, really quickly using social media. We’re talking about recruiting people even as quickly as 2 days before testing! If you like, we offer recruitment for your projects too.

Step 3: TEST!

The Rapid Usability Test for this particular mobile product was done with 5 or 6 people, individual sessions in our Eye Tracking test lab (or it could have been done in a spare room at our client’s office).

As with formal usability testing, a script is prepared that details each task. Keep tasks short and focused and test in about 45min sessions.

This video shows how eye tracking can be used on a mobile app.

We do find that eye tracking facilitates a richer Rapid Usability Test, as it allows the observers to see exactly where people are looking, or not looking, and why. It becomes very obvious when participants are having trouble getting through tasks, and validates learnings in order to begin making design decisions immediately.

Here’s 5 Rapid Usability Testing tips for the session

1. Introduce yourself and the purpose of the test: Say hello! Explain what is about to happen. It is important to stress to the participant, that the product is being tested, not them. Tell them they are being video recorded.

2. Keep it light: It is important to put the participant at ease in order to get honest feedback.  Crack a joke, be genuinely interested in the participant’s interests and have a genial approach.

3. Get them on your side: Allow participants to contribute to the product. Ask them what their solution would be to a certain issue or pain point they were having.

4. Try not to lead participants: It’s easy to get subjective about a product, especially if you are the creator!

Some leading and closed questions to avoid:

  • “Does the slowness of the application frustrate you?”
  • “Does the colour theme of the UI frustrate you?”
  • “Are you pausing because you are unable to figure out the navigation?”

Here are some open-ended questions that fit into almost every user interview:

  • What do you think?
  • How do you feel about using it this way?
  • What would you do next?
  • How would you expect it to work?

Participants open up with interesting points of view when questioned in this manner. It is also important to use silence effectively during interviews. Silence is a powerful tool that naturally prompts the interviewee to fill the void.

5. For Rapid UX Testing it is imperative that stakeholders watch and participate in vigorous discussion: It always helps when people who are involved with the product development are invited to watch tests. Not only can they provide recommendations or ‘tweaks’ between sessions (instead of after the fact), but the result is almost always a more understanding development & business team who will make key decisions soon after the testing. It also means you don’t need to write a long report that few people take the time to read. They already know what needs fixing!

Here’s some tips for effective Rapid Usability Testing observation:

  • Do a dry run with stimulus, discussion guide and technical set up
  • Ensure observers have clear audio and can see the participants face and hand movements
  • Print our key screens of interest and draw on them
  • Use a white board to sketch solutions to UI issues
  • Use Postit notes to jot down findings
  • Encourage discussion
  • After each session run a brief discussion of key findings
  • At the end of the day summarise the findings and, more importantly, the key updates that will be made.
Design Room_with Whitewall

Objective Digital’s King St. Wharf Research Hub – design room with whitewall.

All said and done, Rapid Usability Test Sprints are very flexible. There is no perfect way
of doing it. The heart of the matter is to get quick insights from real people, providing validated learnings for Rapid Results.

Rapid Recruit, Research and Results. 

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Mobile Banking: Who has improved app usability and, surprisingly, how many haven’t

Seventy three percent of Australians aged 15-65 own a smartphone. 65% used their smartphone everyday over the past week and 77% don’t leave the home without their device. With the rise of mobile usage it’s no wonder some of Australia’s leading banks are now making the mobile customer experience a priority (Frost & Sullivan Australian Mobile Device Usage Trends 2013).

However, since releasing our incredibly popular mobile banking app usability white paper in August 2013, it is surprising to see how little has changed in the Australian mobile banking app market!

The CommBank mobile banking app is one banking application leading the way in not only giving customers the ability to manage their finances while on the go, but helping users in making it a usable, seamless, easy and quick process. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Optional Transfers Customers have the option to make payments to a friend via Facebook, mobile number or their friend’s email address through the CommBank app. All the recipient needs is an Australian BSB and account number. Existing Commonwealth Bank customers will receive the funds directly into their account. Ensuring no-one is left out, anyone who is not a Commonwealth Bank customer will receive a text notification and a code from the sender to retrieve funds.

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CommBank’s mobile banking app, transfers, May 2014

2. On-the-Go payments using NFC or PayTag CommBank has been one of the fastest movers on allowing customers to pay on-the-go using either NFC (near field communication) or their recently introduced PayTag technology. A PayTag will cost customers $2.99 and sticks to the back of the mobile phone, working just like a credit card for tap-and-go payments. The PayTag is simple to install using on screen instructions, and is used by just tapping your phone as you would with a credit card.

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PayTag for iPhones

3. Cards Top-Up Easily top your cards up while on the go. This is a particularly useful feature when using travel cards and need to quickly access accounts to transfer money to your Commonwealth Bank travel cards all in one place within the app. Once navigated to the “top up” feature, large credit card images are visually displayed on screen accompanied by a large “top up” button where customers can simply “top up” from one card to another.

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CommBank’s Card Top-up, May 2014

4. Transfer between accounts Vertical scrolling wheel to select accounts for transfer ensuring there is minimal user input to complete the task. Only relevant information is visible on screen keeping design minimal, user friendly and removing the possibilities for user errors or confusion.

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Transfer between accounts, May 2014

5. Usability and overall user experience The most common tasks performed by users are now visible with a clear call to action on the launch screen. As users have limited time and generally be on-the-go, it is important to consider the context in which the mobile app is used. CommBank does a nice job of bringing these common tasks like account transfers, payments and tap and pay forward for their customers, whilst still keeping all app functions easily accessible through the main hamburger menu (top right).

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Launch Screen (left) and Navigation (right), May 2014

The mobile payment space may have started out somewhat slower than expected from Australia’s leading banks, however, with the ever-increasing rise in mobile use, together with customers demanding quick and usable payment solutions this is sure to change. This is evident with many of Australia’s leading banks currently releasing and/or testing new mobile payment solutions for their customers. The examples provided show CommBank leading the way with updated features and usability making everyday tasks easier for their customers.

It has never been more important to be considering the user experience of the product by researching and testing new solutions and designs with customers to evaluate how, when and why they may or may not use their mobiles for payment and everyday banking.

Providing customers with an accessible, easy and useful mobile payment experience can go a long way in, not only ensuring they continue to use it, but that they will be one of your strongest advocates.

So do you have a product or service you want to put in front of your customers? Find out about all your usability testing options and contact us for a quote!

Myles Clemones – UX Consultant

Sydney Research Network – Objective’s in-house recruitment agency

We welcome Michelle Brandwood, who joins us as Recruiting Manager. Objective Digital’s in-house recruitment agency, Sydney Research Network, lists well over 2000 participants allowing for rapid and efficient recruitment of participants based on demographic and lifestyle segmentation criteria. Recruitment being an in-house activity ensures a rigid process of quality management by ensuring a fresh source of participants for market research; not relying on single existing database.

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Michelle Brandwood, Recruitment Manager at Sydney Research Network

Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking

With technology becoming more and more complex, it is key to understand how actual users interact with challenging applications. Observing users work with these systems while at work or home is bound to yield rich qualitative data.

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Objective Digital’s article, “Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking” in UX Magazine describes how eye tracking call center operators revealed some pretty amazing insights. It revealed how a stressful environment coupled with an ineffective interface can result in bigger issues, like poor customer satisfaction and high staff turnover.

Needless to say, the findings from the eye tracking analysis put a lot of arguments to rest and were the basis for the design decisions for the systems improvement.

Don’t bother me, I’m busy: Look through the eyes of your call centre staff

Traditional methods of user research and requirements gathering have long served us to help shape our designs. But as systems become more complex and users go beyond the screen, we are finding that it is getting more and more difficult to get accurate data on why our users, customers and even your staff are doing the things they do.

You customer sees a lot of things about you

You customer sees a lot of things about you

Often, it is difficult to get buy-in from stakeholders just based on verbatim comments from customer or insights based on the designer’s experience. This is where we’ve found eye tracking to be really valuable. It puts the science behind the hypotheses and clears up a lot of arguments.

Do you see what your customers see?

Do you see what your customers see?

Contextual inquiry has been a researcher’s best friend for a while now. It’s a tried and true research method which helps collect insights from the field without having to rely on the user’s memory or articulateness. But what users say they do and what they do are not enough to draw a complete picture of what’s happening. Many questions can be answered by where they look because the design of the system dictates the eye movements of the user.

Eye tracking helps you see what your customers see

Eye tracking helps you see what your customers see

Eye tracking enables the researcher to uncover subconscious eye movements of the user while using the system. Most of these eye movements happen without the user’s control or knowledge. More importantly, with eye tracking we can understand a busy person’s experience without distracting them from the task at hand, for example a call centre operator.

In a recent study of call centre systems, we observed where call centre operators looked at while serving customers over the phone. We found that the flow of the operators’ eye gaze on the screen was completely opposite to how the interface was laid out. This resulted in higher levels of stress for the operator as they had to constantly look for information on the screen and it was straining on their eyes as well. Even the operators and the stakeholders were surprised when they saw how their eyes were moving.

If you would like to learn more about conducting user research with an eye tracker, we have written a white paper on it that explains in more detail our eye tracking methodology and how you can introduce eye tracking into your lean UX processes. Download the white paper and drop us a line if you any questions.

GE Capital shows the way with a high-tech eye tracking lab

General Electric (GE) is a household name synonymous to innovation. Objective Digital recently teamed up with the User Experience (UX) team at GE Capital in Melbourne to help setup their next-generation eye tracking lab in Melbourne as part of their new UX initiatives. It was a lab that made even our experienced eye tracking consultants drool. So what was so special about the eye tracking setup?

Let’s look at how the setup was designed to ensure that every step of a usability session would run smoothly:

Interviewing

The eye tracking testing lab in Melbourne is where the action happens. This is where the user or customer comes in contact with the product. GE’s brightly lit and spacious testing lab meant that participants would feel comfortable. Since it looked like someone’s office, participants would not have to go too much out of their own normal working environment.

Traditional usability testing involves assessing the usability of a product by watching the behaviour of the participants. With the latest eye tracker from Tobii, the X2-30 Compact, GE are now able to see where the customers are looking at. The eye tracker is so portable that it evens fits in your pocket! This results in a drastic reduction in research effect as participants forget that their eyes are being tracked and display their natural behaviour.

Eye Tracking lab Melbourne

GE’s Eye Tracking lab In Melbourne

Mobile Device Eye Tracker

GE Capital also have a Tobii Mobile Device Eye Tracking Stand. For eye tracking mobile apps. It looks like this.

GE's mobile device eye tracker in Melbourne

Recording

Tobii’s eye tracking software, Tobii Studio allows seamless and simultaneously eye tracking and recording of the participant’s activities. Showing a real user talking about your product (e.g. how they didn’t notice a call to action or couldn’t make sense of the information on a page) is the easiest way to convince stakeholders of the value of usability testing and the importance of improving the design.

Tobii X2-30 Compact Eye Tracker in Melbourne at GE Capital

Eye Tracker in Melbourne research Lab with GE Capital

Observing Eye Tracking in Melbourne

Even better than showing stakeholders recorded clips of usability sessions is to let them watch the sessions live. GE had this covered with a big screen showing 3 videos at the same time:

  1. the stimulus with the participant’s eye gaze superimposed on top of it,
  2. the participant’s face to capture their facial expressions, and
  3. the fly-on-the-wall view of the testing lab to observe the things participants usually point at on the stimulus using their fingers.
Observation room for eye tracking in Melbourne

Observation room at GE Capital

Observers also had a choice of viewing the eye tracking session through a one-way mirror in the adjoining room (think CSI!). The room also had a live recording software which synced all video inputs into one.

Dark room with one-way mirror and eye tracking live recording

Dark room with one-way mirror and live recording

Collaborating the eye tracker

GE’s massive observation room also doubled as a collaboration room where designers, developers and other stakeholders can participate in rapid iterative design workshops while watching the usability sessions. This means that design changes can happen on-the-fly without having to wait for the findings to be analysed in detail and the big fat report to be produced.

Collaboration room

Collaboration room with multiple screens to view the sessions

Both GE and Objective Digital are excited about their eye tracking lab in Melbourne and looking forward to the new innovations coming out of GE.

How has your experience been setting up a usability lab in your company? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Feel free to get in touch if you want to have a chat about setting up Tobii eye tracking usability labs in Australia, New Zealand or South East Asia.

Mobile Banking White Paper 2013: A review of Australia’s mobile banking apps

phone-in-hand-smallObjective Digital has reviewed eight of Australia’s mobile banking applications (namely ANZ, Citibank, CBA, HSBC, ING Direct, NAB, St. George, and Westpac) to inform the financial industry of their app’s user experience and highlight potential issues that may not have been realised.

Fill in your particulars and download the white paper now. It’s free!

Destination: Bandung, Indonesia

I recently spent 2 weeks in Bandung, Indonesia with a great project team who are extremely interested in pioneering UX in Indonesia and ensuring UX becomes a fundamental part of their processes that is embedded into all their digital products.

Mar 2014 Update: We are now selling eye trackers in Indonesia and have a new Bahasa Indonesia website

Project objectives:

  1. Facilitate the learning and development of the project team in UX strategy and assist with integrating UX into their everyday practices.
  2. Conduct a full-scale UCD project to develop a new travel website for Indonesian domestic travellers.

In order to meet both objectives we ran a number of UX ‘showcases’ and then got workshop participants to conduct the UCD activities for their new travel website. This allowed participants to immediately put into practice what they were learning.

The UX showcases were attended by 15-20 people daily and included the following topics:

  • Introductions to UX and UCD
  • Psychology of users and UX
  • Stakeholder discussions
  • Heuristic reviews
  • Competitor & expert reviews
  • Persona development, user journeys & scenarios
  • Storyboards & key user tasks
  • Information architecture, navigation & card sorting
  • Sketching & wire-framing
  • Prototyping & stop-motion videos
  • Usability testing & hallway testing
  • Eye tracking in Indonesia

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The team were very responsive to UX and the methodology being taught, and were eager to get busy. They had us set up in a dedicated “UX War Room” for 2 weeks which quickly became full of posters, post-it notes and lots of activity!

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Image           – For more on the stop-motion activity, see my previous blog  (make sure you check out the Youtube links to the finished products from the stop-motion workshop – amazing stuff!)

Project outcomes:

  1. We were able to successfully assist the team with applying the knowledge and theories learned in the sharing sessions to their new website development.
  2. We were able to use the data gathered during the 2 weeks to build an interactive prototype of the new website in order to provide a ‘proof of concept’ to senior management.
  3. The team is super pumped about UX and this is spreading through the organisation!

Image– Project, support and management teams at our farewell lunch.

Image– Members of our awesome project team!

Visit to the Bandung Digital Valley 

On a side note, we got a chance to visit the ‘Bandung Digital Valley‘ in the Research and Development Building. Check out the photos from this place – so cool!

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ImageImage-New friends at the Bandung Digital Valley

I’m looking forward to the Indonesian team visiting us in Sydney in a couple of weeks. They will be here to observe the next phase of this project which will be hallway testing with eye tracking on the interactive prototype. It’s also a chance for us to repay some of the great hospitality shown to us during our stay in Bandung 🙂 Stay tuned for an update.

Get in touch to see how we can help your organisation get excited about UX!

-Danielle