IA Summit 2011
This was the first time I’ve attended the IA Summit, and it came with some good, some bad and some in-between sessions. I love useful, actionable and applicable sessions, and many of the sessions fell short as they focused on theory and concepts but didn’t deliver something I could take back to my office and implement. One session stood out.
How to make a DIY mobile user testing kit for under $200
Our friend Jakob Nielsen notes that the average success rate with a mobile experience is 59%. He notes that sites that are specifically designed for the mobile device are 64% successful – better, but not great. The numbers do go up depending upon whether they are “feature phones”, “smartphones” or “touch phones”. But the responsibility is on us, UX practitioners, to both create experiences that are appropriate for mobile devices and TEST them with real users on THEIR phones.
Why don’t we? Because testing on mobile devices is often expensive, awkward and not representative of real-life situations. You can buy complicated document cameras that cost thousands of dollars, screen capture software that doesn’t work on all devices or mounted table cameras that limit range of motion. But none of those options meets all necessary criteria: easy, cheap, repeatable, one-handed and flexible for various devices.
So, on the final day at the IA Summit I attended the “DIY Mobile Usability Testing” seminar. Belen Barros Pena and Bernard Tyers walked us through how to create a testing kit using pieces from an erector set, some blue tack and a couple cameras – all costing under $200. Now this is useful stuff!
• 4 Erector set pieces (think ebay)
• 1 Jubilee Clip (gotta like the name)
• 1 HUE Flexible Web Cam (they are cute)
• 1 Web Cam (any kind will do)
• Blue Tack (reusable adhesive-like clay)
The HUE Flexible Web Cam connects to the laptop via USB to capture the experience the user is having in real-time, while the desk web cam captures his expressions and comments. The device is easy to handle with one hand and doesn’t require that the user interacts with it while it is fixed to the desktop to capture video. The two video streams are captured simultaneously for easy playback with your team or clients.
So, “wahoo” to Belen Barros Pena and Bernard Tyers for presenting such a useful session. And, although they were few, I will share the other usable, useful and applicable lessons learned from the IA Summit over the next few weeks.