Low-Fidelity Test and Iteration

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25 points. Due on Friday, March 21, by 11:59pm on wiki


The goal of this assignment is to receive rapid feedback and quickly refine your design. This a small assignment to get you to test your ideas early on. You will perform a simple usability test with your low-fi prototype. You will describe the results of the test to inform your next, high-fidelity interactive prototype.

Find three participants to work through the benchmark tasks in your prototype. At most one of your participants can be a student in this class - the ideal participants will be members of your specific target user group.

Testing Procedure

You can either test with a paper prototype or an interactive software prototype like Balsamiq Mockups.

Have one of your teammates describe the overall goal of the application. Demo a simple task to show each real participant how they would interact with your prototyped system (don't use one of your three tasks in this initial explanation). Show participants how the system works in general.

You should write up a script of your demonstration and follow the same script with each participant. Once you have shown participants the demo, explain the first task. Tell them what they must achieve, but do not explain how to perform the task. When they are finished, you will explain the next task and so on.

During the experiment, you should make a log of critical incidents (both positive and negative events). For example, the user might make a mistake or they might see something they like and say, "cool". Write it down along with a description of what was going on. Collect all the incidents first (all observers do this). Then go over them again as a group to assign severity ratings. The ratings scale looks like this:

  1. I don’t agree this is a usability problem.
  2. Cosmetic problem
  3. Minor usability problem
  4. Major usability problem: important to fix
  5. Usability catastrophe: imperative to fix

Each participant will perform all 3 tasks. You will want to keep the data separate for each task and participant.


You will submit your assignment on the wiki and via hardcopy of in class. When printed, your writeup should be 2-3 pages - no longer! Keep it short and sweet. Your writeup should follow the outline below and will be graded using the writing and experimentation guidelines detailed below.

  • Each team member’s name and role in this assignment
  • Project summary: one sentence about your application
  • Test Method (1 page)
    • Participants
    • Environment
    • Tasks
    • Procedure
  • Results (1/2 page)
    • Critical incidents
  • Discussion (1/2 page)

Writing and Experimentation Guidelines

Method (10 pts)

Describe the participants in the experiment and how they were selected. Also describe the testing environment and how the prototype and any other equipment were set up. Describe some details of your testing procedure. This should include the roles of each member of the team. To prepare for the experiment, you should assign team members to the different tasks (i.e., greeter, computer, facilitator, observer, etc.) and practice with someone playing the participant. You should have participants complete at least 3 tasks, 1 easy, 1 moderate and 1 difficult, using your prototype.

Also see: 10 Steps to Better Evaluation (pdf)

Include at least one photo showing your test in progress.

Results (5 pts)

Summarize the results of the experiment from your data. Explain how the users performed on each of the tasks. Describe the most important critical incidents. If similar problems occurred multiple times, report how many times.

Discussion (10 pts)

Discuss your results. What did you learn from the experiment? How will the results change the design of your interface? Was there anything that the experiment could not reveal?


Printout Not Needed for this Group Assignment

No printout necessary for this assignment. Be sure it is submitted on the wiki by 11:59pm on March 21. Do not update the wiki page after that time.

Add Link to Your Group's Page

Edit your group's page to add a link to a new wiki page for this assignment. The wiki syntax should look like this:

[[ProtoTest-Group:ExampleGroup|Prototype Test]]

Again replace ExampleGroup with your group's name. Then click on the link and enter the information about your assignment. Be sure to clearly address everything mentioned in the writing guidelines above.

Add Link to Your Finished Assignment

One you are finished editing the page, add a link to it here with your group name as the title link. The wiki syntax will look like this: *[[ProtoTest-Group:ExampleGroup|Group:ExampleGroup]]. Hit the edit button for this section to see how I created the link for the ExampleGroup.