Importance of prototyping, how and when to use it, and the benefits of prototyping were discussed in the last blog post on behalf of team 2. This time around, I would be adding further to the topic and take it a step ahead in the form of usability testing.
What is the most important thing about prototypes that makes it so critical in the product development cycle? Well, since by definition prototypes mean the first of their kind, the main purpose that it implies is being used in product design for testing, testing and more testing. In the last praktikum session, we were introduced to Attrak-Diff as a means of understanding how users find the usability and design of the product in question. Attrak-Diff measures usability in terms of the following 5 dimensions:
a) Pragmatic Quality (PQ)
b) Hedonic Quality – Stimulation (HQ-S)
c) Hedonic Quality – Identity (HQ-I)
d) Attractiveness (ATT)
Users are asked to use the application (the prototype to be precise at our stage), and then fill in an online Attrak-Diff survey via their website (available free of cost). In response to the feedback provided by the users in the survey, the application is rated across the 4 dimensions mentioned above. These dimensions help determine the usability, how successful users are in achieving their goals via the application, to what extent the product can support the need to develop and move forward, how much it allows the user to identify with, and a global value of the product based on the quality perception for it.
However, this is of course just one of the many tests that are available to determine the usability of a product. There are numerous types of testing available such as moderated ones and unmoderated ones. Which differ in the aspect of the environment that they are conducted in. In moderated ones, it is possible to gain a deeper insight into the usability of product, however the trade-off being the difficulty associated with setting up the environment, gathering unbiased participants and observation models, i.e. costs. Depending on the requirements of the product, the target audience, budget and other managerial details, the relevant testing type is selected and then used (most probably in iterations to test the evolution of the prototype/product over the cycle) as needed.