We found this to be interesting experience as the preparation of the screens itself was a sort of a brainstorming session where we noticed some areas we had not given much thought to and streamlined some of the processes we expected the users to do. In particular, one major discrepancy between our design and what the users seemed to expect was a more task-oriented view (e.g: "Send a message", "Call someone" etc) as opposed to the concept-oriented view which the prototype presented (e.g.: Messages, Contacts etc.).
The following image is of a minor revision made to the homepage in an attempt to cater for this new requirement.
Below is a photograph of the session, where Hardik played the role of the Computer and Yves and Rukmal took turns in being the Facilitator.
On the first task, the subject visited every feature of the design when trying to make the call. It took her a bit to realize that My Contacts holds the information needed to call someone. When asked how she would do it, she just said that she would call information with her phone to get the needed number. But once she realized that she could go through the contacts alphabetically, she found the right person and made the call. A suggestion was to add a search feature so that the user can go directly to the needed person.
On the second task, the subject had trouble finding the right message to check. A bigger font should be used to show the subject and the sender of the messages. A search feature should be added to be able to find a message easily. Also, the subject had trouble finding out how to reply to the message once she had found it. An easy access reply button could be added. Then, when the subject was going through the calendar, she found it hard to find out how to go through months. She was searching for a way to go to a date directly; maybe a GoToDate feature could be added to facilitate the process. Another feature that the subject suggested was to have an automatic spelling check system added when the user is writing a message.
Her feedback about the design was positive and she told us that she would use such a device. Several features should be added though to make the task of finding someone in the contact list easier, maybe a search feature could be added. Also, a GoToDate feature should be added to the calendar to make it easier to go directly to a date. All in all, features to jump directly to a point are needed. It seems that our first design, which makes the user search manually was not a good approach.
Similar to the first subject, this subject too did not find the presented interface mockups to be very intuitive, and spent a lot of time switching back and forth between several options.
She was initially rather quiet, and later on understood what we were trying to do and what the screen mockups represented, but did not see what the user interface was attempting to represent, for example a Telephone Index view of the friends and family with tabs for the different letters.
The first task, of locating a user and placing a call thus took a lot of time and required us to provide guidance in the end trying to direct her to the ‘proper’ options.
In the second task, of placing an appointment too, she was rather slow to approach the Calendar view and kept switching between some screens before realizing what we expected her to do in order to note down an appointment.
Her overall view was positive and she said that she would like to use such a system in real-life if it was available. She felt that the location of contact was not very obvious and thought that searching directly for a contact (as opposed to browsing through a list) was more intuitive. She also found the use of drop-down lists to be not intuitive.
The Third subject started with the first task. Initially, she had problems interacting with "My contacts" screen just like the other two people. But she could identify the metaphor used for that screen after a while. She then quickly realized the alphabetical ordering of the contacts with access buttons on the right-hand side of the screen. Thus she was able to do the task quicker than the others.
She then moved onto the third task of inviting three people for a dinner. Although she was a bit slow in deciding on the sequence of steps, she did not have many problems in figuring out a way to do the task. One of the problems she faced was that she could not understand the meaning of the word “recipient”. But after realizing the meaning, she could add the three recipients efficiently.
Overall, she thought the system was nice and was quoted saying “It’s a lot easier than e-mail”. However she suggested adding a search feature in the contacts section for quicker access. Also, she hinted at changing a few display items which she misunderstood for something else.
Go back to the HCI page.