Sunday, September 12, 2010

Practical Usability Testing -> China Tour

A question to automation experts, testers, developers -> "Can you automate usability testing?"
My answer to this question is I can't, you have to have human intelligence involved in it. Exploring the user's experience and thoughts and asking questions and noting down information about as how user is using, seems to be the effective way of evaluating usability testing. Though usability testing can be structured in a various way according to needs and available resources.

The common questions I ask while doing usability testing are :

"What is it?"
"Can I use it?"
"Does it make sense?"
"Is it easily understandable to how to do it or how it is done?"
"Where am I?"
"Where can I go and can't go?"
"Why I did what I did and why I didn't do what I didn't?"
What is the most attracted thing appeared?"

How usable to tour China(Guangzhou city):

The first usability issue I faced was language barrier as I didn't know Chinese language. But then I have managed to understand most of the material's functionality through the pictures and signs printed on the materials which made me realize the usefulness of pictures and signs for understandability of functions.

This scenario can be linked to websites that is not being localized. So if there were pictures and signs along with the terms/menus/links then I think it would have more been user friendly website. From then I continue to promote to add pictures and signs along with the menus/links in the website to boost the user friendliness of the website's functions understandability.

For example if you look at the first image below, you can see a box and some label is being printed upon it but as the language was not known by me I can not understand what was the functionality of materials inside the box. But if you look at the second image, there are some signs also printed along with some Chinese texts. Now by seeing the signs I can easily understand the functionality of the materials inside the box which is "Fire Hydrant".

Other than that I have faced and experienced some interesting scenario which can be linked with some scenarios which I have faced during software usability testing.

Evaluating Boarding Pass:
This is a sample boarding pass of China Eastern airlines.

Issue 1: Passenger's name is being overlapped on the next field "BD TIME". [GUI problem]
Issue 2: The seat no. is being printed far from from the "SEAT" field. There are other similar issues.
Issue 3: The term "BD Time" means Bangladesh Time, but it would have been better if the term was written as "Departure Time". And may include the term  "BD Time" at the end of the time shown.
Issue 4: There is no " : " or " - " to separate the minutes and seconds shown at "BD Time" field.

 At Bus stoppage:
Wherever you go "Bus" seems to be the only solution as transportation for moving around the city efficiently and cheaply. But if you don't know which bus to take and where will the bus go, then it might not be the best solution. However I have managed to understand the system by looking at the boards at bus stoppage where the stoppage names are printed like below images.

Lets see how I have figured it out though I didn't know Chinese language. I used to make my hotel manager write down the destination name in chinese in a paper before I leave my hotel. Then I would show that paper to taxi driver/ bus driver/people if I get lost. But the problem was which bus to take and to understand after how many stoppage the bus will reach the destination.
If you closely analyze the stoppage names, you will see that in the horizontal list of stoppage names some are printed as red color. And vertically all red colored texts are same. The made me understand that this is name of the stoppage I am currently standing on left ones from the red stoppage name are already visited by the bus and right ones are to be visited.
Which made me realize the importance of coloring and navigational panel which we see often in the websites and sometimes we don't see as navigational panel. But a well designed navigational panel surely will improve any website's usability as the navigational panel and proper coloring would help the user understand where s/he is and after what sequence of actions s/he reached at current state of the website for backtracking and to have a sense of actions performed and for mapping out the website.

At underground Metro Station:
I found a very good example of navigational map at underground metro station where there is a word "You are here" and pointing at where you are in the map. See the image below:

At road traffic stop:
At road traffic stoppage I have seen an interesting thing which I have not seen in my country's traffic stoppage. And that is a timer is being shown at every stoppage which is indicating after how much time the red signal will become green or when green will become red. See the below video:
How many times you have seen the loading scenario when you go to a website. But there is no timer is shown to help the user estimate the time needed to load the website. Which may occupy user's valuable time starring the loading animation of that site because the user doesn't know the time needed to load. But there were timer, the user can switch to other tasks that can be done within the time left to load the website.
This traffic signal timer made me realize how can the loading scenario can be improved by adding a simple timer.

I don't bind myself to test only software. I try to test everything evolving around me. And learning through practical scenario.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why am I blogging? ->A Self Explanation

It's been a since I haven't published any blog posts. Though I have plenty of thoughts to share but didn't feel to do it anyway. Then the questions came into my mind of why should I be doing blogging?  How can I be benefited? What is the future of this blog? What will happen if I don't blog and if I continue blog? Is blogging my hobby or passion or something I am not aware of? What should I write and what should I not?

Why should I be blogging?
--> Thoughts are created and developed in my mind and keeps other thoughts and ideas not to be developed properly until I share those thoughts with someone else. So why not share through this blog where my thoughts can be tested by others. Seems like a good idea.

How can I be benefited?
-->To be able to free up my mind to develop new thoughts and ideas properly.

What is the future of this blog?
--> I can not predict any black swan scenario but without that I see myself continuing to share my thoughts and experience through this blog.
[Black Swan->Google Blogger shutdowns :D, I am not testing anymore]

What will happen if I don't blog and if I continue blog?
--> I have seen the effect of not continuing this blog, now have to see what will happen if I continue blogging.

Is blogging my hobby or passion or something I am not aware of?
--> Well, at the mean time it seems like blogging is my necessity.

What should I write and what should I not?
--> Well, in the mean time I would like to share my testing experience and thoughts.

--> My experience and thoughts might help others just like I got benefited by reading blogs of others

This post is a self explanation to myself to free up my mind.