Usability Lab

The National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) develops mobile apps and websites that help service members, veterans and their families deal with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, anger, depression and other common psychological health issues. Usability testing observes how someone uses a product with the goal of improving the user experience. It is the most effective way to design products that users find easy-to-use and helpful.

In the Usability Lab, we can test and evaluate a product at every stage of the development process. By giving input, you help designers and developers refine and improve products before they’re released.

What’s the Usability Lab Like?

The testing and observation rooms in the Usability Lab are equipped with a wide array of technologies that allow T2 staff to track and record virtually every aspect of how users interact with a device or website:

  • Multiple remote-controlled video cameras capture user actions and reactions.
     
  • Software records what users view and do on a website or mobile device screen. The audio and video of the testing session along, with the usability specialists’ notes, are compiled into files that allow testing sessions to be statistically analyzed.
     
  • Testing across a wide range of user interface devices and operating systems includes iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, Xbox, PlayStation and Wii.
     

What’s a Usability Test Like?

If you participate in a test session at T2’s Usability Lab, you’ll be greeted in the reception area by the usability specialist you’ll be working with, and led to a testing room. Each room holds one to 15 participants, depending on the technology being tested.

You’ll basically “try out” a mobile app or website (either individually or in groups) on a specially outfitted mobile device or computer that tracks and records how you navigate the screens and use the product. As you review the product, a usability specialist will ask you questions about your experience. The total time spent in a test session ranges from 30 minutes to an hour and half.

You may also participate in a “focus group,” a guided discussion about how you use technology in general. Developers use the information from focus groups to help them create new technologies or improve existing ones.