User Exprerience w Microsoft – jak oni to robią?

Mniej więcej rok temu, na blogu Microsoftu poświęconego nowej wersji Office, pojawił się wpis o tym jak Microsoft bada z użytkownikami nowego Office’a, we wczesnym stadium produkcji.

We bring people from outside of Microsoft into a small room (a.k.a., the lab) that contains a desk and a PC so they can work with our software. Inside the lab, there are some cameras and a piece of one-way glass so the researcher, the designers, PMs, testers and developers can all monitor whether or not the software being studied is meeting the needs of the user. We conduct these lab studies in order to find problems that affect the usability of our software and we typically do a few thousand hours of these studies for each release of Office.

One of our favorite pieces of equipment to use in the lab is the eye tracker. The eye tracker allows us to see what people are looking at while they are using our software. This is incredibly useful when building new UI like the Ribbon and the Backstage because the mouse pointer doesn’t always tell an accurate story about where people are looking on the screen. Below is an example of output (a heat map on the left and gaze plot on the right) from one of our eye tracking studies conducted on the Backstage view using an early prototype.

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The heat map on the left tells us where people spent most of their time looking for something. The longer someone looks at a specific location, or the more times someone’s gaze returns to a specific location, the hotter the color on the heat map. The gaze plot on the right tells us the path the eyes followed to get to a particular location.

The study participants’ goal was to open a recently used file. To complete the task successfully, a participant needed to open a specific file – the third in the Most Recently Used (MRU) list shown in the middle pane (of the 3 panes displayed on the screen). All participants were successful on this task. What we learned from the pictures above, however, was that while people eventually located the correct file, they spent a lot of time searching through the templates section in the right pane before going to the MRU.

Co ciekawe z innej notatki wynika, że Microsoft korzysta w sensowny sposób z prototypowania i szkicowania, a także prowadzi badania terenowe (field studies):

We identify user needs and create compelling experiences in a number of ways. For example, User Experience Researchers work to understand user needs early in the product development cycle using methods such as Field Visits. A field visit is when Researchers visit with users in their own environment and observe how they work with software to get their tasks done. Researchers also utilize methods such as Lab Studies (see image below) where we bring users into controlled lab environments and have them work through real world scenarios. While doing so, we use prototypes as primitive as paper drawings to actual working builds; depending on the phase we are at in the product development cycle.

W powszechnym postrzeganiu Microsoft nadal jest identyfikowany jako ociężała firma, która tworzy niezrozumiałe i trudne w użyciu produkty. Powyższe cytaty dają nadzieję, że kolejne wersje aplikacji wypuszczanych przez firmę z Redmond będą powodowały mniej frustracji i niezadowolenia użytkowników. Oby ;)


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  1. To wiadomo nie od dziś, że MS ma topowych researcherów (Pan Spinacz też został dogłębnie przebadany ;). A firma na A nie ma żadnych :)