Usability testing plays an important role in the whole design process, which allows designers to test their prototype with real users. Through the whole process, users may be asked to complete particular tasks and answer questions, identifying any usability problem and determining user’s satisfaction.
I have brought the HI-FI prototype for the musePad to the science museum for the usability test, throughout the process, I realised the importance of usability testing. First of all, by observing I can see how the users explore the application and if they find any difficulties during the process. Also, I can know more what the users think and feel about the application by asking specific questions, which provide me a direction to amend my application. Usability test is worth to undergo as sometimes what the designers think might not be same as what the user think, also, user can always suggest some points that designer might have missed out.
However, I have to admit that the preparation for the testing is not enough. It is difficult to find real users to test for my apps, as the target users of the apps are children aged from 7 to 13 that their parent may refuse to help or reject from recording. What is more, it is sometimes difficult to guide the children to the right answers. Also they may not be able to tell their own thought in a coherent way. Therefore, more preparation is needed if your target users are children, such as coming up with some guiding question like why is the application good or bad.
Besides the preparation of question to be asked, I think the flow of the usability test is important as well. It is always better to give users an open-ended task than telling them specifically what to do, so that we can figure out which part the users might be confused with.
One thing I would do differently next time is the involve usability test throughout the whole design process. The Government Digital Service (GDS) set a “two week rule” that they have to test the design and content every fortnight with real users, it is good to involve real users more in the design process, so that we can find out the best solution for the problem and fulfill users’ satisfaction. In the idea of design thinking, it contains 5 stages of design process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. However, testing should not be undergone just at the last stage of the process but all the time.
Media Convergence is suggested by Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (2006) in North America. According to Henry Jenkins, media convergence is an ongoing process that should not be viewed as a displacement of the old media, but rather as interaction between different media forms and platforms (Jenkins, 2006).
In Jenkins’ book, he discussed the relationship between media convergence, participatory culture and collective intelligence. By convergence, it means the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted (Jenkins, 2006). And the term participatory culture is intended to contrast with older notions of media spectatorship. Lastly, collective intelligence means the combination of skills of people from all walks of life, that Wikipedia is a good example for collective intelligence.
In my own practice, we are asked to design a musePad for an exhibit in the science museum, and it can be seen as a good example for media convergence. Literally, “Convergence” means two or more things come together, on the other hand can be viewed as “coming together of different equipment and tools for producing and distributing news” (ibid.) In this case, musePad is not replacing printed material in the museum, but providing a new way for particular users to learn information.
After the practice, I understand more about the concept that media convergence is not about replacing old media. As we cannot put everything from printed material to the interactive application, and printed material still plays it role in the museum and cannot be replaced by digital media as some families went to museum just to stay away from screen. When the two things work perfectly together with different roles, this is media convergence.
One question comes up to my head is that whether or not media convergence is beneficial for the society and the industry itself? Even though, old media is not replacing by the new media, and it still have its own role on the market, but one thing cannot be doubt is that the effectiveness of radio and print media has been reduced, audiences seldom listen to the radio and read newspaper, as they can find all they want whenever and wherever just by a smart phone.
Another question is that if media convergence provides more choice of entertainment to audiences? I doubt it. Take television industry in Hong Kong as an example. From three free television stations to one main television stations, the choice of TV stations for people to choose is limited, as there is no competition from other television, the variety of television program becomes narrow, and yet, it is way too competitive for television to compete with internet. So as more and more print media are facing the problem of bankruptcy and liquidation, and end up closing down. So I wonder, is that a beneficial or a collapse of media?