Usability testing is an essential tool for developing software that is intuitive and enjoyable.
We do a lot of user testing here at Foraker Labs while developing web and mobile software for our clients. But we’ve never been happy with the current options for capturing video and audio of mobile usability testing sessions. So we decided to build our own tool.
We’re excited to announce the release of UX Recorder, which is now available on the iTunes App Store. UX Recorder allows user experience professionals to record user testing sessions on iOS devices. It uses the device’s built-in front-facing camera and microphone to capture facial expressions and audio. It also captures touch screen navigation, including gestures like swipes, pinches, and taps. After the video and audio data is captured, it is rendered into a H.264-encoded .MOV file for easy viewing, editing, and analysis.
A History of User Testing at Foraker Labs
Over the years, we’ve used a variety of products to record user testing sessions: document cameras, webcams, desktop-based software, and even duct-tape! When recording user testing on mobile devices, however, these systems are costly, cumbersome, and have major drawbacks in terms of what data they can capture.
The user’s hands and fingers would often obscure what they were doing, and it wasn’t always clear whether the user was hovering their fingertip over a tap target, or if they had actually tapped the screen but missed the target. Glare from the device screen sometimes obscured what the user was doing, and the camera didn’t always stay in focus.
The solution for some of these problems was to attach the device to a cradle to prevent the user from holding it or moving it. But this introduces bias, since real users don’t use their smartphones and tablets attached to an immovable cradle. Users holding a smartphone typically do a lot of thumb navigation. But when they can’t hold the device, they tend to use their fingers more. Designing ergonomic apps and websites for mobile is a game of millimeters, and a layout that works well in a cradle may not work well in a hand.
We do lots a lot of work in the healthcare space, and have user testing participants who have had breast cancer surgery (which can affect arm and hand movement), have had strokes, or have had cancer in their brain that affects their hand movements. It is critical to our mobile usability research that these folks be allowed to hold their smart phones in a natural, comfortable way. UX Recorder solves this problem by using only the recording equipment that’s built into the iOS device.
If you’re a usability professional, I hope you’ll find UX Recorder useful in your work. We’d also love to hear your thoughts once you’ve given it a try. I believe strongly that software should be constantly improved based on user feedback, and UX Recorder is no exception.
You can learn more about UX Recorder at http://uxrecorder.com, or get it from the App Store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ux-recorder-user-testing-for/id514450465?ls=1&mt=8.