Today while at the user centre I conducted a short evaluation of my device with five people to get some feedback on my project. As this evaluation is coming at such a late stage, while their feedback is valuable it doesn’t allow me enough time to make a huge amount of changes and for that reason this is a task I should have done earlier in the project . With that in mind I chose to evaluate my product with a focus on it’s value and usefulness and understanding how real people would use it. I did also ask questions around design, I’ll detail them below.
Before arriving I made up evaluation sheets with two sections, how the product could be used and how it could be improved. The session began with me playing them my one minute video and giving a short explanation of what the device does. I think the video really helped in conveying the concept so I’m glad I brought that along.
The questions and relevant feedback are as followed;
1. Would a device like this appeal to you?
Three participants responded yes, one mentioning cost of use being an important factor. They pointed out the importance of being able to turn it completely off (something my prototype doesn’t do due to technical restrictions) so that it wasn’t wasting electricity when not in use.
Two participants said no – one because they are comfortable with using computers which was a response I was expecting to come up. The members of the user centre are all at different levels of ability with their computer use. The other stated “Not at present but getting older I see a positive use for it at a later date”. So all round the device was received fairly positively.
2. Do you know anyone this device might be useful for?
- “People who might struggle to use a normal computer”
- “Could be useful communication for a community / sheltered alarm”
- “Being simple to use I see older people finding the device very useful”
- “Yes – not only “elderly” people, simple use = higher number of users”
- “Possibly, not all may be able to use the buttons”
3. If you had this in your home where would you position it?
This question got very similar answers; somewhere prominent on a sideboard beside tv or phone, living room and phone table were the answers everyone provided. These answers all make sense to me and is where I would have imagined the device to be positioned as well.
4. How often do you usually get in touch with your family? Do you think a device like this would make that connection more frequent?
A few people only answered the first half of this question but each saying they contacted on a regular basis – all stating at least a few times a week. Two members agreed that this would increase frequency as contact would be made easier. This is not necessarily an intention of the device but a potential positive by-product.
A slightly unrelated but important point one user made was whether users could be selective about which group members to call. “However this would require another control which would complicate the device.” This is not a feature I’ve incorporated although it did cross my mind a few times during prototyping. I didn’t know how this could be implemented without over-complicating the interface so I chose not to, however if I was to take this project further I would have taken more consideration into how this could be done.
When asking about the design of the buttons and device, we had a discussion about the location of the buttons. I got mixed feedback here so I think what I can gather from this is that each person would have a different preference. As pictured, one user thinks the buttons should be moved to the top as they would be harder to control from the bottom being too near the surface it’s placed on. Another stated they would move the buttons further apart. While the rest didn’t fill out this element on their sheet, this sparked a discussion into how the volume button could also be changed – perhaps having an up and down button rather than dial or perhaps even a slider. There were mixed opinions on which one would be best – I think had I done this exercise earlier I would have prototyped a few models with them in different locations to test first hand the best location.
Finally, I had various versions of the icon to represent the two actions; phone and hang up. I asked people to tick the one they believed to be most appropriate and I got an almost unanimous vote for the two icons pictured.
I really enjoyed the session and I’m glad I got these insights and a bit of proof of concept evaluations. They raised some interesting points, some of which I had considered and discarded (such as the community alarm – I didn’t want this to be a care or spying device) and some I hadn’t really given great consideration to but could definitely be refined further – the location of the buttons. At this stage in the project I can’t change them, but it’s useful to know if it was ever to develop beyond uni.