User Testing: Interview

After coming up with an interactive Processing sketch that I was happy with, I wanted to test it out on others to see how they would react to it and also how the sketch reacts with multiple people on screen. To start with, I decided to show it to a flat mate and thankfully she agreed to be interviewed on camera. Finding someone willing to be on camera or to respond to an interview was the most challenging part of the interview processes. A lot of people, myself included are unwilling to be interviewed on camera and also a lot of people are busy and do not have time to be interviewed at length. Below is the resulting interview:

I decided not to do a formal interview process because of the nature of the interview. Due to the interviewee being a close friend and me being present to record the process, any result from the interview would subject to huge bias. According to Shuttleworth (2015) I could potentially be subjecting the interviewee to interviewer bias as I was present I might have given off body cues, even subconsciously on how I wanted the interviewee to respond. However there was no way to make the study anonymous as I had to record the proceedings. Additionally the subject would be subject to response bias as they would likely respond how they thought I would like them to respond. This was compounded as we live close to one another and are good friends so the subject would have extra incentive not to hurt my feelings.

Therefore I decided to do an informal interview process, mainly using a “thinking aloud” method. This method, as researched by Maarten W. van Someren, Yvonne F. Barnard, et al. (1994, pp.1-2) is where the interviewee is asked to think through their thought process as they carry out a task. The interviewer can then ask questions based on their actions. This method is useful as it allows an insight into the thought processes of the user, and creative use of the piece being tested as the study is user led. Ideally I also wanted to allow the duration and intensity of the testing to be led by the user, as that could be used as a way to gauge true interest in the piece.

However this provided some pitfalls as my subject was unwilling to talk to the camera without being prompted. I tried to use humor at the beginning of the interview process to help alleviate some of the discomfort, which helped somewhat but not totally. This could have been helped by more practice with the research method, however due to the nature of the project time constraints did not allow for this.

I was able to test how the piece reacted to having more than one face on the screen at one time. The sketch handled this very well, bouncing between the two faces and reacting well if one of us moved.

Some of the most valuable feedback I got from the interview was from the body language of the subject. Although I did not tell the subject how the sketch was controlled, it only took her a few seconds to figure it out, barely enough time for me to start the camera. She then proceeds to skillfully control the sketch and this is evident by the movements of her head in the video. Later on in the testing she confirmed verbally that she found the sketch easy to control. This is a promising sign, and hopefully people in the foyer will react the same way.

Overall I think the reaction to the piece was positive. During the test the subject was attentive to the project and was smiling throughout. The subject first mentioned that the piece was “weird” (and improper to correct interview technique I retaliated), but nonetheless seemed engrossed with the piece. She also quipped “pretty cool” later on during the testing processes. She also asked me questions about the piece which showed interest, and was engaged by the piece fro several minutes.

Obviously this interview technique was not perfect, and ideally I would have had someone else conduct the interview. Of course for these results to be anywhere near meaningful I would have to repeat this process several times, with a far wider demographic. However I feel that the location I am testing in limits this somewhat, I live in a studio flat and all the people on my floor are female and the same age as me. Therefore I will test my project somewhere else with a wider range of people to test.

Shuttleworth, M., 2015. Research Bias [online] Available from: https://explorable.com/research-bias [Accessed 14.01.2015]

Maarten W. van Someren, Yvonne F. Barnard and Jacobijn A.C. Sandberg. 1994. The Think Aloud Method: A Practical Guide to Modelling Cognitive Processes San Diego: Academic Press.

Thanks to Alice Murray for participating in the interview