Mobile Usability, Testing Testers
While technology is advancing at the speed of light, user-testing equipment is making slower, but steady progress. Because traditional desktop screen-capture software cannot record touch interactions on mobile devices and tablets, usability practitioners have resorted to using strategically placed cameras for tablet testing. Fortunately, several devices have been developed to facilitate this.
Based on the success we have had with their Usability Palette, their Smartphone testing device, we collaborated with Psychster Inc. to beta test two of their latest designs for tablet testing devices, the Usability Platter and the Usability Clip. The goal of testing was to gather user feedback on and suggestions for the physical design of the Platter and Clip while they were still in development, as well as to assess the versatility and handling of the devices by assigning tasks to participants that included typing, swiping, changing orientation.
Usability Platter is a wooden tray that fits the dimensions of a standard iPad tablet. A Logitech HD C525 widescreen web cam mounted on a gooseneck screws into the Platter to capture the tablet screen. On the back there is a knob that is placed off center at the top edge, intended for users to grasp while holding their tablets.
Usability Clip has a Logitech HD C525 widescreen webcam mounted on a gooseneck which screws in near the hinge of the clip and can curve around from the back of the tablet to the front. The clip opens to hold the tablet with two prongs on one side and the arm of the clip on the other.
Results showed there is no one-size-fits-all solution for tablet testing, but we did learn that certain tablet devices and tasks lend themselves to different camera and platform combinations.
On both devices, the camera, particularly the long gooseneck, was viewed as fragile and intrusive. For its next versions, Psychster Inc. is currently seeking lightweight fisheye lenses to allow for a shorter gooseneck.
Participants found the resting angle of the Usability Clip helpful as they performed the tasks, but the handle on the base of the Usability Platter caused it to tilt awkwardly both in landscape and portrait orientation.
The size of the Usability Platter was well suited for iPad tablets in both portrait and landscape mode, whereas the Usability Clip was best suited for smaller handheld tablets such as the Nook or the Galaxy.
Overall, the majority of our participants (75%) preferred to use the Usability Platter because of its perceived stability. The Usability Platter was viewed as very easy or easy to use by 88% of the participants, versus 51% for the Usability Clip.