User Testing

I took a lo-fi approach during user testing, aiming to gather information on the way users interacted with the website as quickly and efficiently as possible. Egger, F.N (2000) characterises low fidelity prototyping as, “a quick and easy translation of high-level design concepts into tangible and testable artefacts.” This was particularly true during initial design phases where I gained a greater understanding of how to structure content across all devices. By drawing wireframes and setting tasks for a small test group, I was able to identify areas of improvement and better able to understand how users interacted with the website. User testing primarily highlighted issues with the vertical navigation from both a user and design perspective.

Louis Lazaris (2010) supports this notion stating the issues surrounding a vertical navigation in his article “The case Against Vertical Navigation.”
1). It discourages information hierarchy: I feel this was particularly true, as user’s took a much longer time to find the settings button with the vertical navigation. Having the most important/visited links at the bottom of the page discouraged the hierarchy of the website where the film categories became the user’s main focus. A horizontal navigation created a more logical hierarchical structure, with the most important links being, “home, search, profile, login and register” at the top of the page and the film categories sitting just underneath.
2). Vertical navigation fails to reflect real life reading: The integration of a header and footer reflects an individual’s desire to read in a similar format to a magazine or book. A vertical navigation disrupts this reading format appearing unnatural to users and may account for the long time spent searching the navigation bar.

Testing identified that users found textual links easier to read than icons within the navigation. The orange graph demonstrate the decrease in time users spent looking for the settings icon ( 1 second) when changed to a textual link, rather than icon.

Testing also identified that users were unclear of where to click to gain further information on a film.The graphs demonstrates the length of time it took participants to recognise that clicking on a film would allow them to view further information. By incorporating a plus sign underneath each film, users were able to identify that there was something ‘clickable’. This decreased the time users spent searching by 7 seconds, highlighting the importance of icons in representing information.

User testing highlighted  the importance of making icons as clear as possible and using them within the right context. For example, in the navigation they appeared to confuse users, who were unclear of what each icon represented. However when incorporating a plus sign to signify that more information could be seen on a film, icons appeared to be more effective and a more appropriate choice to represent information. For these I have decided to incorporate a mixture of icons and textual links to guide users around the interface.

Although testing proved extremely useful to refining the interface, there were anomalies within results produced. Rosson and Carroll ( 2002, p.200) explain the importance of informing users of the concept of projects before presenting prototypes. They state, “ If the team offers little orientating information, assuming that a prototype will be self-evident, viewers will rely on their own backgrounds and expectations to make sense of it.” This was certainly a downfall of mine, in which I failed to explain what the prototypes represented and the main aims and purposes of the website. This would account for anomalies in the data collected during user testing, in which some participants took a much longer time to complete  tasks, due to confusion and lack of explanation on my behalf. However disregarding those figures, overall, user testing proved very useful for the aims and uses of this project and led to a number of improvements in the website.


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