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By Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman

Keeping users at the heart of the design for mobile Value Added Services

Keeping users at the heart of the design for mobile Value Added Services

This is the first post in a multi-part series on user testing for mobile Value Added Services.

When I first heard about designing mobile Value Added Services (VAS) through user testing, I was not very convinced that we were headed in the right direction. How were we going to explain a virtual service to future rural users? Especially to the users who may struggle to use VAS from their basic phone or find it difficult to read SMS. I thought it was quite ambitious to expect that rural users would start using VAS for the first time in their life because of the value we were going to offer.

However, when I started to see user testing in action and witnessed the understanding by real people of mobile Value Added Services in rural areas of a country like Bangladesh, my assumption started changing.

In this blog post I’ll introduce some theoretical aspects of user testing, and hope to answer the fundamental question: ‘What is User Testing or User Centric Design?’

User or usability testing is a method to identify how easy it is to use something by testing it with real users and audiences. Users are asked to complete or experience tasks, typically while they are being observed by a researcher (either face-to-face or through a hidden camera). This allows researchers to see where users encounter problems and experience confusion. If a number of people encounter similar problems during user testing, recommendations will be made to overcome these usability issues.

Different types of user testing:

There are a few different types of usability and user testing based on reasons to conduct the usability research:

Comparative Usability Testing

This type is used to compare the usability of one product with another.

Explorative Usability Testing

Explorative usability testing can establish what content and functionality it should include to meet the needs of its users.

Usability Evaluation

This usability test introduces users to the new design to ensure it is intuitive to use and provides a positive user experience.

User testing can provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Provides quick fixes for immediate alteration.
  • Help identify key issues in product designs/architecture.
  • Raises issues not previously considered.
  • Product usage behaviours (current and future) can be identified.
  • Maximise conversion opportunities by identifying the key demand criteria – help to design the content hierarchy.
  • Overcomes any in-house unhelpful policies – users are always right.
  • Pull out creative marketing messages and promotional tactics.

In a forthcoming post, I’ll discuss what resources are required for user testing, as well as the four steps involved in user testing, including

  • Defining the sample size
  • Recruiting users
  • Conducting the test
  • Writing the report

Additionally, the mAgri team is expecting to experiment with user testing for mobile VAS in some parts of Indian and Africa, and hope to provide some real-life examples from the process soon.


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