How do I use this $%^# camera? Research Methods Project . April 8, 2003 Allison Drash . Erin Eisinger . Miso Kim
1. Introduction 1) Overview The Nikon Coolpix 4500 digital camera was the focus of our research project. It seemed like a logical choice because Miso has owned it for over a year and still has difficulties performing tasks and still has unanswered questions about its functionality. To further its inaccessibility as a product, its directions are written in Japanese and were not included with the camera. Thus, we thought such a problematic design would yield some interesting results, provide us ample opportunity to redesign, and maybe help Miso learn a little bit more about the camera. 2) Product The Nikon Coolpix has elaborate functions including a swivel body, an automatic pop-up 5-mode flash, the NikonView 5, perspective control, and a five-area multi-auto focus function, to name a few. The camera is equipped with an extensive array of features, but because we were more interested in basic tasks that a novice might use, we focused on features and elements related to those tasks. swivel body flash lens playback button zoomflash-control button navigation controler focus button menu button 3) Tasks We designed a project to test users’ ability to complete four basic tasks without using instructions. We omitted the instructions because we hypothesize that given the choice, users will not use directions but rather attempt tasks based on previous knowledge of functionality and familiarity with icons. Using this as our focus of inquiry, we were able to test three users and gather enough information to begin redesigning a more user-friendly camera. The four tasks we tested were: 1) Turning on the power and taking a photo. 2) Take a close-up and a far away photo. 3) Delete the two photos just taken. 4) Turn off the flash
4) Protocol Purpose The purpose of this test was to see if the form and icons of the Nikon Coolpix support novices who would not use instructions before operating the camera. Who we tested To test this, we stipulated that all three of our volunteer users be unfamiliar with this particular camera, but could have varying degrees of experience with digital cameras. We found such users in Adam, Monchu, and Katrina, none of whom had ever used or seen this camera, but had used a digital camera before. How we tested Our protocol was to include think aloud, free flow questions, and we had decided that if the user became visibly frustrated or said they couldn’t complete the task, we would stop them. Before the test started, we briefly explained what our test was, what they would be asked to do, assured them we were testing the product, and that they could stop at any point. Once we started the test, each user was asked to complete four tasks; we recorded to what extent each task was completed and noted the time and level of frustration that each user experienced. We asked the users to think aloud, and they were encouraged to answer free flowing questions. We found the free flow questions helpful because it was a way for us to get them to respond to things they were doing that we might not have anticipated. With one user, we stopped the test because she had become frustrated with the task and stated she would be unable to complete it. One reason for using this protocol was to limit the time that the user had to commit to our test, and to gather as much information as possible in such a short time (each test only lasted up to ten minutes). Encouraging the user to talk aloud throughout the task helped us gain insight as to where they were misinterpreting information or were becoming frustrated. Often times, if they were having difficulties completing a task, they would stop talking to concentrate more. We would then prompt them to continue talking, but even that silence was helpful in identifying problem areas. It also revealed how many cognitive steps were involved in completing even simple tasks like turning on and rotating the camera.2. Tests For our test we selected one man in his 20s, one man in his 30s, and one woman in her 20s. Only Mon-Chu, the 30-year- old subject, considered himself an advanced digital camera user. Both Katrina and Adam had previous, albeit minimal digital camera experience. As stated earlier, the criteria for our users was that they be unfamiliar with this particular camera, even if they had previous digital camera experience. All users met the criteria and the tests were underway.
1 Task 1: Turn on camera and take a picture1) Data We started off by handing the users the camera with the lens on and in the ‘standard’ (unswiveled) position and asked them to turn it on and take a picture. Findings All the subjects were successful in finding the on/off knob to complete the half of the first task, but the twisting action of the camera, which enables the user to use the view finder, presented more of a problem. Both Adam and Monchu were surprised and seemingly satisfied when it rotated, but Katrina never noticed this feature and completed most of the tasks without swiveling the camera’s body. We though this would be an important feature to redesign with a highlighted arrow icon or other visual indicator that alerts the user to rotate the body. Possible redesign The possible redesign would be to implement arrow or marking on the surface so the user would be informed to twist camera to direct lens. Current state Possible redesign no signification
22) Task 2: Take two pictures: one close-up, one distant Data We specifically designed the second task to test the clarity of the ‘”icon, mountain, time, thing button,” as one participant called it, which is used to take close-up and distant pictures. Findings For the second task, users were asked to take two photos, one close-up and one distant. The subjects were familiar with using the zoom function. As we had anticipated, however, the subjects misunderstood or did not see the focus icons. They also tried to use other non-related functions to complete the task. Possible redesign The possible redesign would be to implement clearer icons, as well as on-screen feedback so the user would have a written, as well as an iconic source of information. Also, one of the user suggested to change the icons from mountain(far-away focus) to number of people, and flower(close-up focus) to one person Current state Possible redesign ����������� ����������� Actually the subject did not have much problem to find that there is changing icon on the screen and it is related to the button, however, it took some time for them to find it. Therefore we suggest to move the icon near to the button so that users can find the connection more easily, and make the display of the icon to be able to change by the brightness of the background (Ex: black icon if the background is light), to make it more visible.
3) Task 3: Delete the two pictures just taken3 Data We felt that the third task, which was to delete the pictures they had just taken, was important to test since this feature is one that really distinguishes digital from traditional cameras. Findings When asked to delete the photos, we found that the users had difficulty deciding whether to use an icon or the camera menu function to find the delete option. They all became frustrated and found the navigation annoying and confusing. They also were not aware that they needed to use the icons in conjunction with each other to make the function happen. Katrina was unable to complete this task and Mon-Chu became frustrated because he was unable to adapt to the new icons, which were different than those on his digital camera. Possible redesign To solve some of these issues, in a redesign of the camera, we would clarify or omit the multi-function buttons, redesign the on-screen interface to involve less scrolling, and lastly, clarify the relationships between the elements, such as buttons and the dial. In current state, menu button acts in two way. If the user pushes the menu button in normal state, the screen shows the menu for image size and image quality. Only after pushing the playback button and then the menu button, the screen shows the other menu including erase function. Adam pushed the menu button several times and tried to find the erase function through menu, but did not succeed, because he could not find the fact he MENU MENU had to push the playback button before the menu button. Therefore we suggest to unite these menus in one and make it activated by just pushing the menu button in normal mode. We also suggest to move MENU MENU the trash-can icon and its function to the menu button and make it activated by pushing the playback Monchu found the trash-can icon and tried to use button->pushing the menu it, but he could not find the fact he had to push the button. Playback button and playback button twice to enter whole-screen mode trash-can icon currently has for previous photo before pushing the button. He a connection by the bage kept pushing the trash-can button in the state of color, but th color that has small-screen mode and spent a lot of time before he MENU more contrast to other white found the next mode. Therefore we suggest to make icons would work better. the mode only one step to make it simple. Then these functions and icons and buttons will be justified in one row, and the users would be able to understand the two ways to reach the erase function more intuitively.
44) Task 4: Turn off the flash Data The fourth and final task of turning off the flash proved to be the most difficult for all users. Findings All three users completed the task incorrectly, if at all. They did not see the correct button and/or tried to use the menu to turn it off. They were all surprised to see the flash pop up when they took a picture and tried to push it back down. Possible redesign A simple redesign would be to move the flash icon button to a more visible place. The user would benefit from having clearer feedback as to whether the flash is on or off. We do not recommend redesigning the icon, however, because it is common among most non-digital and digital cameras. Current state Possible redesign �������� �������� Actually the subject did not have much problem to find that there is changing icon on the screen and it is related to the button, however, it took some time for them to find it. Therefore we suggest to move the icon near to the button so that users can find the connection more easily, and make the display of the icon to be able to change by the brightness of the background (Ex: white icon if the background is dark), to make it more visible.
3. Proposed redesign 1 Task 1: Arrow to inform user to twist camera to direct lens 2 Task 2: Clearer icons, On-screen feedback (name of function), Change the position of icon on the screen to clarify the relationship with the focus button, Change the color of icon on the screen by the brightness of the background 3 Task 3: Simplify the steps to activate the erase function by clicking the playback button twice to only one time, Change the position of trash-can icon to clarify the relationship with the menu button, Change the color of the previous-photo button and trash-can icon to clarify the relationship 4 Task 4: Move the flash button to a more visible place, Adding the signification of the flash button on the other side, On-screen feedback (name of function), Move the position of icon on the screen to clarify the relationship with the flash button, Change the color of icon on the screen by the brightness of the background Current state Proposed redesign � �������� ����������� ����������� ��������
4. Reflections 1) Reflections on our test Overall, we were satisfied with our test, as the user testing proved extremely valuable for discovering which simple camera functions could not be completed without instruction because of unintuitive form and icon design. All four of the tasks we tested revealed instances where a redesign would prove beneficial to even the most inexperienced digital camera user. We were also pleased with the responses and information gathered by using the methods of think aloud and free flow interview; it helped create a very relaxed environment where users were more comfortable performing assigned tasks. We also think a strength of our test was that we had a clear purpose driving our inquiry; we wanted to know if people could use this camera to complete simple tasks without referencing instructions. Another advantage was that although it was Miso’s camera, Erin and Allison were unfamiliar with it, which granted us a lot of latitude in what we were observing. We had little anticipation about what they would have problems with, which allowed us to strictly observe how they were using it. Although we were happy with our final conclusions, we did encounter a few bumps along the way. The first, and most notable, was the lack of cooperation we received from our original research plan. To coordinate our research with Miso and Allison’s studio project, we were going to test the food information kiosk at the East End Co-Op. Unfortunately, we found out a couple days before the project was due that the Co-Op offered us no co-op, and we needed to find a new focus. Fortunately, Miso had this terrible camera that we were able to test, but in the future, that is something that should be considered in using this method. It’s time-consuming and not everyone wants researchers (even student researchers) in their faces videotaping. Another obstacle in this method that we did not have to deal with too much since we were all present during the testing is coding. Even seeing how differently we interpreted the same information, we can only imagine the problems that might cause in a larger project. We also had the “flash debacle.” We had written the fourth task without considering what would happen if one user broke a feature, which is what happened. Subsequently, only two of the users were asked to complete the fourth task. 2) Reflections on the method However, there are obvious benefits of using this method, the most important being doing versus saying. We’re sure that some of our users, if asked, would have said that they could delete a picture or turn off the flash without any fanfare. As we observed, though, this was not the case. This method also allows testers to observe ways of interacting with the product that they had never anticipated, which may also lead to interesting redesign ideas. Overall, this is a useful method, but because of time commitments, coding problems and any other weaknesses, it would be best used in conjunction with other research methods. One problem with a videotaped interview is that the user often feels self-conscious or may feel that we are testing them, instead of the product.