Usability Research: Testing Mobile

On Thursday the PublishingLab visited the Usability Lab, in preparation for our interns conducting their own user tests on the App they’re developing for the UNStudio Project.

Calibrating the Tobii Eye Tracking system for mobile

Calibrating the Eye Tracking system for mobile


One thing to be aware of with mobile testing is exporting video with visualisations for each ‘page’ seen by the viewer, otherwise the maps remain and can obscure the the new eye-tracking results obtained from the participant.

The task: we asked the participant to open the HCMA App from the ipad homescreen, when the user swiped, the heatmap remained and it was tricky to tell where he was looking on the new screen. See the video below for a visual explanation.



We also visited the Observatorium, which is used for group interviews and facial recognition tests using vicar vision software. Researcher Jochen Riester told us to keep in mind three cosiderations with research:

  1. reliability (whether the result is objective or subjective)
  2. internal validity
  3. external validity

In a lab setting, for example, you have to be aware that the environment does not correlate with reality. The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion is a dual process theory describing how attitudes form and change. The ELM was developed by Richard E. Petty and John Cacioppo and it is sometimes used to mitigate the stillness of a lab environment by increasing the cognitive load of participants.

An interview may have high internal validity, but low external validity – in that one subject’s opinions will not necessarily be shared, so usually 20 participants are interviewed in the Observatorium so that patterns can be established.

Facial expression may be one indicator but Riester emphasised the need to triangulate your research, which echos my understanding of user research, that a holistic approach is the best way to understand your audience.

Remember, the question behind your research is: how do I get more insight into the emotional system of the user? Be prepared with your technical tests, but work toward a holistic result for qualitative analysis.