Thursday, January 15, 2015

Test Usability in Context through Participatory Design

Participatory Design Test
Responsive websites or mobile apps have different use contexts compared to desktop only versions. Therefore, their testing is always a challenging task. Generally, we take two routes to test, one by general and large scale testing or by broad assumptions while another is the designing of a feature and testing it in its specific ways. In fact, they both are two extreme ends of the testing spectrum, but participatory design of testing can bridge them and offer contextual usability tests.

As we are living in mobile era and almost 50% population use mobile devices to access the web for all purposes including critical shopping. As, the day before yesterday, we were developing websites for desktop users and have used our testing system accordingly. Therefore, we have tough time to offer excellent user experiences and usability on mobile devices in responsive web designing endeavors.

Today we have many advance and appropriate testing systems, methods, and facilities to accomplish our quality maintenance tasks for intricate responsive website development project. For instance, we can run guerilla UX test with the least investment of time and money. Same the way for usability testing, we have participatory design to test our contextual interactions in real-time.

Why We Need Contextual Participatory Test
Yes, contextual testing matters more for the mobile website and application testing. As, we know mobile used in wider and in unexpected use cases and contexts due to its mobility factors against the standalone desktops or laptops with partial mobility. For instance, when a mobile user accesses a website during its commuting route, she has altogether different needs and issues with the website from the other locations like office or home.

If we think on getting out in the field for UX or usability testing with real users in real-time, it becomes impossible to accomplish our project within given timelines. Therefore, we have to simulate much of our contextual experiences in the lab or in the areas of our vicinity in economic and safe ways. In due course, industry has one refined approach for mobile testing and that is participatory design. As, this test takes short time and limited users, as the participants, we can go cost-effective ways without missing much quality credentials.

Steps of Participatory Design Test Session

Step 1 - Intimate Users Regarding Test
At first step, we used to introduce our app and testing points that uncover the actual usage of our app or website or anything creating pains in user experiences. If you successfully brought awareness and put them in right contexts that you want to use product, you would have better cooperation from them.
In this process, you must go in-depth and create questions, which should cover: when, where, how long, what tasks, and how satisfied like categories.

Step 2 – Documentation
Once you soak them in your desired contexts through initial questions, draw a timeline for the beginning and end of the test as well as tell test participants to fill its intermediate steps using documentation techniques. In this documentation process, you can use colorful stickers to overlay their emotions in the range of negative and positive. This way you will capture their happiness and frustration in qualitative as well as quantitative measures.

Step 3 – Sketching Experiences
For this step of test, you have to bring participants in the lab and tell them to recall their field experiences and translate them in some wireframe like designs. Give participant the pen-paper, drawing and cutout equipments, and tap and scissors to stick cutouts on the design of phone and its screens or interfaces, just like we do in prototyping.

Step 4 – Feedback
Now, in this final step, converse with participants after examine their sketches and documents. Place your own imaginative designs on the table or show in modern prototyping tools with interactions and animations. Thus, they will push their boundaries and will provide you valuable feedback on the designs. Thus, they will help you to iterate or refine your development methodologies.

Fortunately, Lujayn has excellent web design and mobile development team with enough experiences in participatory design testing to bring robust outcomes on the table.

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