All the comforts of home...

Living Room Lab

  • Why and When

    Living room lab

    Lab based testing is great for clients to observe testers using a website or app. However, the conventional lab set-up, with tester and facilitator sat at a desk and the devices held static, will inevitably have some impact on tester behaviours. Sometimes a more informal set-up, which better captures more natural behaviours, is needed. This is why we have developed our living room lab, where testers can use their tablets and smartphones in a more relaxed environment and often as a second screen whilst watching the TV; it also provides a great space for testing Smart TVs and other electronics used in a home environment.

    Kitted out with comfy armchairs and home comforts, the living room lab is designed to put the tester at ease. They can sit back and hold a phone or tablet as they would if they were relaxing at home. The room also has a TV, which means we can show the tester a TV advert and simulate that user experience: What does the tester do next? How do they find out more online? How well does the online experience work?

    This approach is an excellent way to understand the natural user journey and what influences user behaviour, and can help give insight into how well a multichannel marketing campaign works.

    It provides a complementary environment to desk based usability. In the early stages of a mobile site or app development we will undertake more granular usability testing to ensure the user interface ‘works’ and then test in the living room lab to ensure the whole user experience for the tester is enjoyable and successful, and achieves the goals of the client.

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  • Our Approach

    We make the tester comfortable, sitting next to the facilitator in armchairs. A smartphone or tablet is available on the coffee table, so that testers use the device they would really use if at home. The facilitator uses a more informal facilitation style, encouraging a think aloud conversational approach and probing gently as required.

    We agree a facilitation guide with the client in advance of the testing sessions to make sure the research covers off the issues the client wants to explore, whilst providing the flexibility to let the tester use the site or app as they would in real life. During the testing sessions, we adopt a conversational facilitation ‘lite’ approach in-keeping with the more natural environment. And, as with most of our testing, we get the tester to think out loud whilst they’re doing the testing to get their immediate reactions to the interface and a running commentary on the user experience.

    The device screen is projected on to a monitor using screen mirroring software, and observers can view the session (both the screen and the tester) from a nearby observation room. We record the sessions using unobtrusive cameras, to capture the tester’s behaviours in the living room environment, as well as an ‘over the shoulder’ view of what the tester is viewing so we can see their hand movements and gestures.

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  • Testing and Outputs

    The process we adopt to undertaking the project and the outputs we deliver are similar to those used in Usability Testing projects.