Last week I created paper prototypes for an app I was developing called My Mountainside, which you can read about here. The paper prototypes are a great way to visualize your ideas and put them down on paper. This week, however, I took it to the next level. Using a program called POP (Programming on Paper) I was able to take my paper prototypes and make them interactive. Now users would be able to click through my paper prototypes in a sort of app demo and I could get feedback. I could talk with my users and discuss what they thought was confusing or difficult and get entirely new perspectives. Below is what I discovered during those tests.
Before I begin let me say that I do have experience with paper prototyping as well as with the application POP. I created an app called Spark, which you can play here, that acts as a dating app to find fire starting supplies in your local area. The assignment was to create the silliest app we could think of, which I hope clears up that question!
My trials followed this format, I asked two participants if they would be included in my tested, if they were okay with me recording them and if they would follow the tasks and directions I had laid out for them. They used my POP prototype which can be viewed here, and I began by reading them this script,
“Hello and thank you for participating in our user testing today. My name is Libby Cardone and I will be guiding you through the trial. The purpose of these tests are to evaluate the current state of the My Mountainside app and determine if and where improvements are necessary. If you have any questions I will do my best to answer them. This trial should last 5 to 10 minuets, please let me know if you need to stop for any reason. Are you ready to begin or do you have any final questions or concerns?”
After receiving confirmation from both of my subjects we began with the tasks. I designed my tests to be in an order that went from easiest to more difficult. The first take would take one step, the second two and the third four. Task 1 was to find the profile feature, Task 2 to find information out about local shops and Task 3 was to sign up for youth activity program one.
Participant 1 expressed their thought process aloud and made a point to recognize the hamburger menu that they were seeing, noting that they had seen it in other apps and that it was familiar to them. They completed each task with little to no problem and didn’t have any questions to ask me thought the process. Having never used an app prototype they caught on very quickly. In the end their feedback for me was that the app looked great and was very functional already.
Participant 2 was quieter than participant 1 and took more time to think through each click before they made it. While also catching on quickly they made a few missteps here and there while still learning how POP and paper prototypes worked. One misstep I noted was on task 2 they clicked on the community tab instead of the shop local tab. I feel as though this could have been due to them not fully reading the hamburger menu and trying to get to the answer quickly. It could also be because I woke this participant up from a nap to partake in this test and they could have still been a little sleepy and not realizing what they were doing.
Below I’ve attached a PowerPoint that features my script, both videos from my participants, screenshots of the slides and the tasks they needed to complete. Originally I had planned to do this test with two of my classmates but after an unsuccessful zoom meeting and running into various problems with the program I decided to make the switch over to people in my household and recording with my phone. I think that in the end this worked out because I was able to have two subjects with absolutely no knowledge of POP or paper prototyping and because of that I was able to get unfiltered and raw results.
Based on my participants feedback and observing them completing the tasks there are a few changes I think I should make. One, I want to change rearrange the order of my tabs. As they are right now I believe that they should be replaced in an order that has the more frequented tabs at the top of the hamburger menu. I also would like to add a photo gallery to the community tab.
This sort of user testing is so important to me because it brings to light the problems that I would have never seen or considered. Have a different point of view is imperative to success, especially in app design.