Simple usability lab - suggestions?

13 Oct 2008 - 8:13am
5 years ago
7 replies
1447 reads
Kordian Piotr Klecha
2008

We are thinking about building small and simple usability lab. The goal is
to minimize the cost, retaining capabilities to quick test some own ideas
and (especially) results of changes we made. I am wondering about basic
equipment we need - and current list is: one PC (well equipped: fast hdd, a
lot of RAM and so on), one camcorder, some mousetracking software... and?

To say it clear: we are not going to make eyetracking tests at the moment.
We just want to create a place where we can run some basic, scenario-based
tests, detecting (and documenting) main usability problems.

I will be grateful for suggestions, especially pointing important additional
hardware or specific solutions (including software details).

Comments

13 Oct 2008 - 8:47am
krushford
2008

Hello,

Take a look at techshmith's morae software. http://www.techsmith.com/
That can cover screen activity and has some great analysis tools.
With a web cam and mic you can record facial expressions and sounds
for the same session and review both together in one frame.

At my company we are trying to expose/evangelize the usability work.
I invite folks to be silent witnesses. These labs have been one of
the best ways to keep the conversation going as they experience the
unexpected and learn from seeing their work in the context of the
user.

We are a national company so when I set up labs I often just take over
a conference room/empty office and that has worked just fine.

On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 9:13 AM, Kordian Piotr Klecha
<kpklecha at gmail.com> wrote:
> We are thinking about building small and simple usability lab. The goal is
> to minimize the cost, retaining capabilities to quick test some own ideas
> and (especially) results of changes we made. I am wondering about basic
> equipment we need - and current list is: one PC (well equipped: fast hdd, a
> lot of RAM and so on), one camcorder, some mousetracking software... and?
>
> To say it clear: we are not going to make eyetracking tests at the moment.
> We just want to create a place where we can run some basic, scenario-based
> tests, detecting (and documenting) main usability problems.
>
> I will be grateful for suggestions, especially pointing important additional
> hardware or specific solutions (including software details).
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

13 Oct 2008 - 9:17am
Patrick Aguilar
2008

I have never used it myself, but you might want to check out:
http://silverbackapp.com/

Its a mac app. that allows you to capture both the users movements on
the screen and the users facial reactions as well. Of course you would
need a Mac (the laptops come with built in cameras).

Hope this helps.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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13 Oct 2008 - 10:30am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Oct 13, 2008, at 9:13 AM, Kordian Piotr Klecha wrote:

> [...] I am wondering about basic equipment we need - and current
> list is: one PC (well equipped: fast hdd, a lot of RAM and so on),
> one camcorder, some mousetracking software... and?

Kordian,

Are the systems you're going to be testing going to run on OS X and
Windows, or just Windows? If both, then an iMac is your best bet to
reduce costs and basically get a 2 for 1. If only Windows, then just
about any PC will work.

Our usability labs use iMacs. We test applications and websites, which
typically involve both platforms. We prefer to put the participant on
their native OS and native browser to reduce any system bias that may
occur. We use iChat for the A/V connection and streaming and SnapZPro
to record the A/V. This software combination is not only significantly
cheaper than Morea, but results in a movie file that can be used in
just about any video editing program, unlike Morea's proprietary
format. Software cost is less than $100 compared to $500-1500 for the
Morea combination.

Additionally, there's only one cable to worry about - power. With a
PC, there's a number of cables to hook up and drivers to download. If
you're never going to move it, then that's only an issue the first
time you set up the system. While ours stay fixed, the iMac gives us
the flexibility to pack it up quickly and easily and take it w/us to
test at remote locations (e.g. trade shows, client offices, homes).

We use this model to test both Windows and OS X.

If you're never going to move it and are only going to have Windows
clients, then just about any PC with a webcam and Techsmith's Morea
solution will work.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

13 Oct 2008 - 10:36am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Oct 13, 2008, at 11:30 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> While ours stay fixed, the iMac gives us the flexibility to pack it
> up quickly and easily and take it w/us to test at remote locations
> (e.g. trade shows, client offices, homes).

Oops, this should have read "While ours stays fixed most of the time,
the iMac gives us the flexibility..."

We end up packing up our equipment a few times a year to take them
with us for remote testing. So, another advantage we have is using the
same machines in our testing/viewing rooms at our office as well as
anywhere we go.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

13 Oct 2008 - 11:15am
mark ahlenius
2008

Hi
To better respond, can u tell us what types of products you want to
test?

I might assume it's web-based since u mentioned mouse tracking, but
not am not sure. I've designed and setup a pretty Decent and flexible
lab in the past. But when it comes down to it, you can always get by
with a lot less. It just depends on what u need to do. Follow the
KISS principle I'd my best recommendation.

'mark

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 13, 2008, at 8:13 AM, "Kordian Piotr Klecha"
<kpklecha at gmail.com> wrote:

> We are thinking about building small and simple usability lab. The
> goal is
> to minimize the cost, retaining capabilities to quick test some own
> ideas
> and (especially) results of changes we made. I am wondering about
> basic
> equipment we need - and current list is: one PC (well equipped: fast
> hdd, a
> lot of RAM and so on), one camcorder, some mousetracking software...
> and?
>
> To say it clear: we are not going to make eyetracking tests at the
> moment.
> We just want to create a place where we can run some basic, scenario-
> based
> tests, detecting (and documenting) main usability problems.
>
> I will be grateful for suggestions, especially pointing important
> additional
> hardware or specific solutions (including software details).
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

14 Oct 2008 - 4:07am
Kordian Piotr Klecha
2008

Thank you all for your answers.

Todd: company I work in manages one of the three biggest portals in
Poland, so our systems are mainly regular vortal-like websites and
services like e-mail accounts with web interface. Most of our users
are PC-users (because most of users are PC-users in general), so PC
is probably better decision for us (even if iMac has important
advantages).

Mihkel: what software do you use? There are some superstitions that
eyetracking environment is expensive, and so are good eyetracking
software licencies.

Mark: that's what I'm gonna do :]. Keeping in mind the other
statement: keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34235

14 Oct 2008 - 4:27am
Itamar Medeiros
2006

Hello, Kordian! There were a couple of discussions previously on this
list about setting up a usability. One was call "Setting a usability
lab on a budget". It's worth checking it out:

http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=30224&search=usability lab

...

{ Itamar Medeiros } Information Designer
designing clear, understandable communication by
caring to structure, context, and presentation
of data and information

mobile ::: 86 13671503252
website ::: http://designative.info/
aim ::: itamarlmedeiros
skype ::: designative

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34235

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