Paper Prototyping and Evaluation: Usability Testing Using a Paper Prototype (4/4)
This blog is the fourth of four posts of an academic group project. The goal of the project is to iteratively redesign and evaluate a paper prototype for a specific task in Microsoft Teams. In this blog, we will be looking at how our group conducted Usability Tests using Paper Prototypes.
If you haven’t read the first and second post yet, you can do so through the following links:
Picking up from the defined user need statement and problem identification from the last post, our team aimed to design a feature that would give users the ability to choose the layout view they need from a set of options.
For simplicity, we’ll refer to this feature as Change Layout feature.
For our usability testing, our team decided to make our prototype using paper prototyping because it is one of the cheapest and fastest techniques we can use for our project (Rohrer 2014). Paper prototyping also helped our team to avoid committing to our designs and to be able to test it quickly with participants. It also allowed users to freely express their feedback seeing that the the prototype is fairly rough and still in its early stages.
Unfortunately, we had to improvise in conducting our usability tests due to restrictions of meeting people in a time of pandemic. Instead of meeting our participants face to face, we decided instead to conduct remote, moderated tests. Still using our paper prototype, we took pictures of our sketches and uploaded them to a tool like InVision. Again, since we were working remotely, out team made our paper prototypes individually and met later on to consolidate our work.
Following the concept of test-driven development
We knew that agreeing on which paper prototype design to go with would be tricky so, we decided on finalising first the tasks that would be used in the usability test. By doing so, it became clearer to us what design we needed to choose. This followed the concept of test-driven Development (TDD) where test scripts are written first before developers start working. This way, developers knew what they needed to develop for significantly decreasing defects (Agile Alliance 2020).
How we designed the usability testing process
Usability testing is a critical part of the design process. Without it, we would have no means of knowing if our solution would work or not. A drastic decline in the sales of a product or service may give a good idea that a certain product of service is not working well but it would be too late by then.
For our usability testing, we used four main artifacts:
1. Goals and Tasks
Ultimately, the goal of our usability test is to see if users can discover the “Change Layout” feature and use it with ease. Here are our tasks as well the sub-goal for each:
2. Paper Prototype (Modified)
As mentioned our paper prototype allows users to choose from a set of Layout Views depending on what information they needed to see. Here are the different Layout Views:
The paper prototype also showed a saved customised view but we did not include it on the initial test. You can see the full prototype here.
3. Consent Form
A standard document asking permission from the participants to conduct a usability testing with them.
For our script, we used Steve Krug’s usability test script and edited it accordingly to match our usability test. It gives a good and general explanation to the participant of what is happening and why we are doing it. I particularly like the part that guides testers to explain that we are testing our redesign and not the participants hence the participants cannot do anything wrong (Krug 2010).
User testing and iteration
Our team had three rounds of usability tests. After each round we updated the prototype based on the findings we got from our participants. These updates are only minor improvements and do not deviate from the task flow we originally have.
Agile Alliance (2020) Test-driven development. Retrieved from https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/tdd/ on 8 November 2020.
Krug, S. (2010) Rocket Surgery Made Easy. New Riders, Berkeley CA.
Rohred C. (2014) When to use which user experience methods. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/ on 8 November 2020.