Weeks 8 & 9 – Performing usability test for GNOME

Week 8:

This week has been great and full of new things to learn. It was also intense, as I had to prepare every test until the last detail, so the participants would not confront with any “organizational” problems and so they can feel comfortable during the test. Having all the tasks and scripts already prepared helped me to make the test more dynamic, so I had a great interaction with the participants.

Things were great but not perfect, as I also encountered some difficulties. First was due to the heat wave we have in France right now and it’s not easy to concentrate when the air conditioning is missing. Most of the tests were scheduled in the late afternoons and I welcomed all the testers with a fresh lemonade, fruit juice or ice tea.

Regarding the usability tests I conducted this week, I must say it is really difficult not to help the participants when you see them struggling with a task, or when they are close to accomplish it and they ask you “Is that right?” or “Is this the right thing to do?”. However, I am happy that participants had no problems when it comes to understanding the tasks.

This week 7 volunteers have been participating in the usability test, so I have 5 more to go for the next week. I will come back soon with a new update, stay tuned! 🙂

Week 9:

I finally completed my 12 persons usability test, hurray!

Week 9 was a little bit longer than expected (people are busy in general and it’s not easy to find them available). This time I discovered that when I searched for volunteers and invited them to participate to the usability test, they were a little bit reticent, even if I explained them that we were not going to test them and their personal skills, but to evaluate some programs. Of course, after making them the test introduction (see the script here), they were more relaxed. But I think it is important for them to feel comfortable, even before that introduction. People were a little scared when they heard the word “test”, so I had to change it to “You will have the occasion to try some new programs and tell us your opinion”. That helped me to remove the “stress” before the test.

So if I were to sum up in one word these two great weeks of usability testing for GNOME, that would be surprising.  I had the chance to welcome a wide range of volunteers from different fields, with different computer expertise and expectations. I learned that conducting usability tests is not easy as it might seem, we must be  really well prepared. What I liked the most during the tests was not only to observe interesting reactions, but also the fact that I discovered GNOME features in the same time as the participants.  I was surprised by the fact that the testers were not afraid to tell that they did not like something or that there was something that bothered them, which made me happy, because the participants said really interesting and useful things.

The next step in my Outreachy project is the analysis part, where I will present you the results of the usability tests I conducted during these two great weeks. Follow my next blog posts for more information!

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4 thoughts on “Weeks 8 & 9 – Performing usability test for GNOME

  1. >>People were a little scared when they heard the word “test”, so I had to change it to “You will have the occasion to try some new programs and tell us your opinion”. That helped me to remove the “stress” before the test.<<

    This is a challenge for many who do usability testing. The purpose of a usability test is to evaluate how easy (or difficult) a program is to use. We are not testing the user – we are only testing the program.

    I'm glad you were able to overcome this by changing the wording and helping them understand what it was about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. >>Regarding the usability tests I conducted this week, I must say it is really difficult not to help the participants when you see them struggling with a task, or when they are close to accomplish it and they ask you “Is that right?” or “Is this the right thing to do?”.<<

    I always find this to be the hardest, too! It is tough to watch someone struggle during the test, to find some menu option or icon or button, and not say "It's right there – what you are looking for is right there!"

    When the user asks "was that right?" or "did I get it?" it's also hard not to answer. I usually just ask in return, "Do you think you finished it?" or "Tell me what you think." In my experience, this nudges the tester to decide if they have completed the task, and they either decide they are done, or they go back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds very interest. I am wondering how did you came about with actual users to do the testing? Why did they need to be there in person is it a physical thing they needed to test or a software?

    -Fellow Outreachy Intern

    Like

    1. Participants on the test had to test a few GNOME applications. I think that it very important that they are physically present at the test, in order to allow me observing their behavior and reactions (and noticing existing problems).

      Like

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