Mobile and tablet usability testing kit
Sagi Chaitas/Ben Logan - Published: 21st November 2011 08:10 GMT
User testing methods have matured over the past few months, but this does not mean that we do not face new challenges.
We have seen an increase in the demand for testing websites and applications in a mobile/tablet PC context (Like smartphones and iPads) as more companies issue out applications and websites that cater for mobile users.
Testing on mobile devices presents us with many challenges the major being “How can we capture the full context of usage”. There are some testing methods which use a static camera, telling the user to put a mobile device on a table, operating it within a designated area (where the camera is pointing). Such testing fails to capture the true experience of real usage context. It does not allow the user to hold the device in his hand, and operate it as he or she would do in real life scenarios. More than that: The fact that the user is instructed not to move the device from a designated area, adds on stress during testing, which in itself is an un-wanted cognitive load, thus being a negative interference.
We decided to build a dedicated mini mobile usability testing kit, which allows us to come as close as possible to how apps and websites are used in a mobile context.
Screenshot Tablet usability testing kit
Mobile usability testing kit - Challenges we faced
- The testing device should allow users to hold the mobile device (smartphone, iPad, Kindle) the way they would hold it in real life.
- The testing device should be flexible to fit many types of mobile devices, which differ in size, and in screen resolution. (This is not only because different clients would like us to focus on different devices, but also due to the fact that we wanted to have the option to test on the participants’ own devices whenever possible).
- Testing on participants' device reduces learnability and confusion and gives a better perception on the system that is begin tested, as users to not have to adjust to new devices supplied to them.
- We should have the option to attach the testing device to users’ mobile device without being intrusive, so users will allow us to attach it to their mobile devices. Attaching and detaching the device should be an easy operation that could be done quickly when users are arriving to the testing lab and when they are leaving the lab.
- The testing device should be lightweight, so users do not feel any addition to the weight of the mobile device.
- The testing device should produce a clear stable picture from its camera, when a user is moving around within different light condition and focus statuses.
- The device should be reasonably priced (We did not want to build a device with a prohibitive cost).
- The device should look professional and communicate trust
Mobile usability testing kit - How we met these challenges
- We built the device using available material, such as GPS mounts and mobile device holders, this approach allowed us to keep a reasonable priced device while maintaining a trustworthy look and feel.
- We used a high end HD camera, which proved to produce high quality outcome in various light conditions. We have built versions with models that have auto-focus and with ones that have manual focus.
- We used a glass-fibre lead to be used as a camera mount which gave us both stability and flexibility. This allowed us to adjust the camera to fit many screen sizes, and also keep a steady picture when the user moved the device around while using it.
- We used simple “Velcro” to attach the device to the mobile, allowing a quick and easy attach-detach process. During lab testing we did a small demo on a mobile phone we had just in case users were reluctant to use their own mobile devices, however when seeing how easy and unintrusive the device is and how removing the Velcro did not leave any marks, all the users we have had so far let us attach the device to their phones.
- We built a second version of the device with a special long-neck camera and a tablet holder, to allow tablet usability testing.
Screenshot of Mobile usability testing kit camera
Screenshot of iPhone with velcro
Screenshot of belt clip with velcro
Screenshot of fibre neck
Screenshot of mobile usability testing kit
Screenshot of mobile usability testing kit with HD Camera
Summary - Mobile usability testing kit
We can conclude and say that the results we got from the device were were brilliant. We had a stable and clear picture and we delivered our clients with mobile user research results based on as close as possible real life scenarios.
Need some more information?
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you run and co-ordinate Mobile & Handheld Usability Testing then please call us or email us below and we would be happy to help out where we can.
We also rent and sell this kit, so please get in touch if you wish to rent the mobile usability testing kit from us.
We are ready to answer your questions right now, so please contact us by telephone on +44 (0)207 168 7526 or drop us a quick email email@example.com and we will do our best to help you with any questions you might have.