That’s why we always test our designs at Silo. Even when time or budget is limited. Recently we have done very different user tests for two clients: Invest International, a company that invests in Dutch solutions for global challenges, and Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, the world’s first public art depot, located in Rotterdam.
“ Besides seeing who you're actually designing for, it helps you create a product that fully meets the needs of the target audience. Moreover, you keep a realistic and critical view of your design.
User test during a pandemic: self-testing at home
Silo created a corporate identity for the brand new Invest International and developed several assets, including a website. The website lets entrepreneurs and governments go through a checklist to find out if they are eligible for financial support and if so, what next steps they can take.
To make sure that the checklist is exactly what the user wants and expects, we did a usability test. However, the time allocated was very limited. The intended users belong to a specific group, namely companies and entrepreneurs who work internationally, making it difficult to accommodate the respondents at a test site on a single day.
Dashboard with the test results in Maze
How did we manage to test anyway? We used the online tool Maze.co. The tool allows respondents to complete test assignments and answer questions from the comfort of their own homes. Maze gives you ready-made statistics and analyses with a wealth of information.
The disadvantage of such a tool? You cannot see what the user does, feels, thinks. You miss out on facial expressions, thoughts spoken out loud, and behavior. Three things you can usually draw many conclusions from in a physical test. The advantage? It’s a simple and quick way to gather feedback from your target audience and improve any bottlenecks.
Testing the total experience on location
Depot Boijmans van Beuningen opened its doors on November 6, 2021. Silo has worked hard on several projects for Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, including touchpoints that offer in-depth information about the Depot.
Using an interactive touchscreen, users can browse through various videos. The videos give an insight into the storage of art objects, Depot employees, and what is involved in the maintenance and conservation of art.
“ To test a product in the environment in which it will be used is essential. If you get that opportunity, go for it!
What will the user interface look like? How will it work? How do you ensure that the user has a flawless and fun experience while using the screen? And how do you ensure that the user understands it is a touchscreen? These questions were pivotal during the concept and design phase of the project.
The research on designs for large touchscreens compiled into an infographic
Creating an interaction design for a large format touch screen is very different from a website or app, so that’s very educational. After extensive preliminary research, we incorporated the desired functionalities in a clickable prototype and started testing on location.
The test took place at Depot Boijmans van Beuningen with actual visitors who regularly go to a museum. To account for external factors that influence the visitor experience at Depot, such as other people and background noise, it is extra important to test a touch screen on location.
To carry out a representational test, a number of objectives and test questions were drawn up beforehand. For example, it is important the user understands the functionalities and the user interface, that it is accessible for users of all ages, the touchscreen gestures are intuitive and that it adds value and fun to the Depot visitor experience.
At Depot, we set up a test environment. We displayed the prototype on a touch screen, recorded it with a camera, and made a screen capture of the test. The test day was incredibly enjoyable and educational: expectations were confirmed and assumptions turned into facts. To test a product in the environment in which it will be used is essential. If you get that opportunity, go for it!
Make a habit out of it
Testing is a very important part of the design process. It always improves a product. You will probably recognize it; there is little budget or little time to test a product/design. Nonetheless, make sure you do it to check with your target audience whether something works or not.
Of course, an extensive live usability test with all the technical gadgets is extremely valuable, but if that is not possible you can still test. How? It doesn’t even matter that much: hit the streets, speak to people, call them up, send out a survey, test via an online tool, make it a physical test. As long as you know what you want to test and who your target audience is.