1 Step Forward 2 Steps Back – Wireframe and User Testing

In IDSE201 Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving we use the think-a-loud user testing method to inform our thinking by observing and listening to feedback from real users, as we iterate on our thermostat interface design every week.  This approach for designing inspires new ideas for me especially when thinking about ease in usability.  However, this week was less about inspiration and more about exposing and understanding flaws in the design and the need to step back to move forward again. To view a full set of my annotated wireframes and “think-a-loud” user testing task list for Iteration 3 or previous iterations and concept models please see below:   

Iteration 3

Iteration 2

Iteration 1

Concept Models 1 & 2

When testing Iteration 3, it became apparent to me that I needed to go back to redesigning the Temperature Control and Home Display screen.  The design no longer worked with out visual indicators like the black bar for Temperature Control or the box around the Account tab in Iteration 2 below.

                                 Iteration 2                                                     Iteration 3

I had taken them out because I didn’t think they fit the system design visually. I also thought if the design was constrained and simple, it would be intuitive enough – I was wrong. I was asking users to interact with blocks of color instead of buttons, albeit not a difficult task, they were not clear on how.  By taking out the visual indicators for simplicity, I lost users and made them feel “dumb”.  

This round of feedback was in direct opposition with my initial intent for designing a digital thermostat interface.  I want simple, intelligent and easy to use.  I don’t want to design a product that makes people feel “dumb or lost” – EVER.   

For Iteration 4 I will be redesigning the temperature control and home screen (mostly starting over) using the feedback from user testing.