USABILITY TESTING // SURVEY DESIGN // UX RESEARCH
Team Long Island University Usability Lab
Partners The ELIA Idea
Timeline 12 Weeks
Location New York
Leveraging the power of usability testing to build human-centered experiences
While working at the Long Island University Usability Lab as a UX Research Intern (Summer ‘19), I was invited to work on a special project with ELIA Life Technology PBC. My job was to conduct usability testing and UX research for a customized mechanical keyboard with 3D-printed ELIA keycaps. I’m leading the project from start to finish, working toward a final proposal for our partners on the ELIA team.
I got ready to recruit participants from the local community for 30 in-lab sessions and gathered user feedback within a month. Pulling insights from both quantitative (survey and performance measures) and qualitative (coding physical cues from recorded videos) data, the ELIA team will be able to strategize new product design and marketing plans for the upcoming year.
At its core, the idea behind the ELIA Frames was to build a tactile reading system that could be intuitive to individuals with visual impairments. While this mission remains, the ELIA team became interested in exploring a slightly different design challenge: How could the gaming community benefit from this tactile keyboard experience?
To understand the context of this challenge, I conducted secondary research on multi-sensory learning, the history of keyboards, and usability heuristics. What I found was that gamers tend to prefer mechanical keyboards to membrane ones, for they receive both tactile and audible feedback of pressing a particular key. However, current keycaps don’t necessarily provide cues regarding accuracy via tactile input, which may be important for performance.
After a week of informally interviewing peers immersed in the gaming community as well, I devised a project plan that incorporated experimental procedures for randomized control trials in the usability lab. I compiled documents for approval by the institutional review board (IRB). Finally, we were ready to go.
Together, we determined which directions to take for our research. How do ELIA keycaps feel under people’s fingertips? Do people feel a greater sense of agency while gaming? How about for regular typing?
By building and printing out a prototype of what the keyboard would look like, we were ready to bring in participants from the community for study sessions. Using standardized measures found in the UX research literature, I designed a survey that would be straightforward to participants. I made sure to get feedback on a diverse range of user experiences—perceived task workload, individual measures of personal innovativeness, and overall attitude toward the new piece of technology.
Once the study details were smoothed out, I designed a recruitment flyer and obtained funding for our first run of usability testing sessions. I plan to analyze and organize gaming and typing performance data as well as key usability issues from our participants. Then I will present our findings and actionable design recommendations to the ELIA team, in hopes of incorporating our research into modifications before releasing to the market.
Special thanks to Dr. Qiping Zhang and to the Jeff Metcalf Internship Program for supporting this UX Research project.