If they had it, would they use it?
My client wanted to find out how their sales associates would use an iPad in their stores. They also wanted to gather input for features that would be important for the associates to have in an employee iPad app which would be used in the store. Additionally they wanted to know how the addition of an iPad would affect managerial duties.
Eight sales associates were brought into the the lab to interact with an iPad. The reason we brought them into the lab instead of testing in-store was the lack of wifi and/or 3G connection inside the store (if this tested well, client was going to work with AT&T to set up routers in the store). Associates completed common in-store tasks using the iPad: locate coordinating item, informing customer of new clothing line, placing an order, and locating a ship to store order. I also gathered feedback on how they see themselves using an iPad in the store and what features and functions they would need in an iPad application for associates.
Only one user had used an Apple device prior to the study (it was a friend's iPhone) so none knew the iPad could be used in landscape and portrait nor did they know they could zoom in using their fingers. As a consequence of this, most had difficultly selecting links on the current site using the iPad due to the small text size. Despite the difficulty they had using the current site on the iPad, most stated having an iPad in the store would make them look "with it". Having internet access on the iPad to the online catalog would aid them in determining the piece of clothing shoppers were looking for (currently they have no way to access the online catalog in the store unless a shopper brings in their smartphone or iPad). Client told us that this was information he hadn't expected to find out and was very informative for next steps.
Which design to use
My client needed to determine what type of navigational method to use in an up coming cell phone design. They wanted to conduct some user testing to help inform their decision. They had 7 different types of navigational methods they wanted to gather feedback about: optical trackpad (Blackberry and Android), trackball (Blackberry and Android), directional pad, touch, and Hall mouse. Additionally, they wanted to see if there was any performance (either perceived or actual) difference between Blackberry and Android.
User research was conducted with 35 users and 7 devices and using the repeated measures design with the devices being counterbalanced across subjects. Each user completed the same set of tasks with each device. Users evaluated the speed, ease and accuracy of typical smartphone tasks: horizontal scrolling, vertical scrolling, non-linear scrolling, playing a game, navigating a long note, and short, medium and long navigation. Each user self-reported the time for each task (they had a timer and wrote the elapsed time on their worksheet for each task). After each task was completed per device, users ranked the device on the overall speed, ease and accuracy of the navigational method they used. After the quantitative measures were collected, each user spoke with a researcher to explain which device they chose as their favorite which allowed us to collect qualitative data to support the quantitative results.
Users preferred the trackball on the Blackberry smartphone because it offered a higher degree of accuracy which also contributed to the high sense of satisfaction with the control. Users found the optical trackpad on the Blackberry to be more comfortable and more pleasing to the eye (they said it looked more 'high tech'). Both navigational options were equally easy to use.