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Thermostat Wire Frame 1

Monday, November 11th, 2013 | Posted by kurt.hanley

In IDSE 201, I have been working on a project developing thermostats. Last week I took what I had developed from a concept model of a thermostat to a wire frame. This process is where I can begin testing with potential users with a physical artifact. The goal is to see how effective I am at conceptually taking a system and translating it into a visual artifact. I am doing this by building out the interface screens with task lists for testing.

This was my first time doing a test of like this and I was uncertain on how it should run. In class we learned that engaging the user to speak through their actions is best for gaining useful information. To get participants I asked people at my office if they would be interested in helping me test a thermostat. To my surprise most people I asked responded pretty excited and willing.

*Different options for the home screen. Tested on users. Middle screen was preferred by users.

During the research I started to see a variety of different interactions with users. I noticed that users enjoyed not having to spend too much time searching for what they wanted. The home screen had direct interaction or links to the desired action. To change the temp up and down buttons were placed on the home screen for quick interaction. The fan is a button in the top left of the home screen and shown by an icon of a fan. People picked up quickly how to navigate around. Even one participant would clap their hands every time they hit the right button because of their excitement. Overall most subjects were able to complete tasks and could figure out the system quickly.

I set five tasks for subjects to achieve while testing my thermostat.

  • Change the temperature from 82 degrees on heat to 78 degrees. Return to Home screen.

  • The fan is currently off turn it to auto. Return to Home Screen

  • Set a schedule a new event for 85 degrees heat on MONDAY at 4:00 pm. Return to Home screen

  • The schedule is on, but you’re still hot. Adjust the temperature to 84 degrees. Return to Home screen

  • Change the language from English to Spanish. Remain on screen.

Some parts of the testing had complications built in. For example, the goal to set a scheduled event was impeded by the schedule being shut off. I was curious to see if the off switch for the thermostat was confusing or not. None of the test subjects interacted with the off switch until it was the last option. Most subjects went straight to the + button to add the event. Although this was the correct and desired action for adding an event; people were confused because the schedule was turned off.

*Creating a new scheduled event for the thermostat.

The event deletion process had the same reaction of confusion. Most subjects would tap on days to edit or delete the event. Subjects would even attempt to cycle through the + (add new event) button to attempt an event deletion.

Both interactions left me uncertain on what to do as a designer. On one hand subjects failed to achieve the desired interaction of the test goal. On the other hand when told how to do the interaction, opinion changed to loving the interaction. I believe that there is probably a balance of keeping some actions and changing others. I want to achieve a user interface that is supportive of the designed interactions.  My plan will be to take the information learned from this round of testing and rework flows into a clearer process. Then go back out and test again. The complete first test can be viewed here.

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