Mobile usability testing – a simple tech solution

The main activity for my team at the moment is making our website mobile friendly, one section at a time. First up was the postgraduate prospectus.

Changes like this need testing. We’ve been running usability sessions on desktop for years. We use Silverback to record what’s happening on the screen. It also records video and audio of our users as they complete a series of tasks on the website.

Our aim with the redesign is to make the user experience consistent across all devices so we now need to run mobile usability testing too.

How do you do that?

Finding a solution

There’s nothing I like more than problem solving. Even more so when I can find a solution with kit we already own.

I’m a slave to Apple and often use an Apple TV to mirror my iPad screen onto my TV. So I wondered if I could do something similar with an iPhone and the Mac we use for desktop testing.

My first thought was to use an Apple TV for this. We have one, but haven’t got it working on the University’s enterprise network. If you can help me out with that, please let me know in the comments.

And then OS X Yosemite and Quicktime came to my rescue. Here’s what Apple has to say about it in their list of new features:

Using QuickTime Player in OS X Yosemite, you can record the screen of an iOS device running iOS 8 via the Lightning connector.


Our mobile usability testing setup

With Quicktime open and your device connected via Lightning cable the setup is simple. All you need to do is select which camera you want to record from. Here’s a screenshot of how to do that:

Quicktime iOS recording

Selecting the device that’s attached to your computer will display its screen on your desktop.

You can then record what’s happening on the screen either in Quicktime or, as we preferred, using Silverback. Your recording will look something like this (our participants’ image has been replaced by ‘generic person icon’ to protect their privacy):

Recording your mobile usability testing session

This setup worked perfectly for us. It required no extra kit and so there were no additional costs.

More DIY solutions

For some other mobile usability testing solutions check out Barry Briggs‘ slide deck from Forefront Leeds – How to test your mobile site without spending a fortune.

Mixed type

I have long been a fan of typefaces and a couple of weeks ago I had my first experience of hand printing. Some friends of ours have their own hand press and kindly allowed us to print the invitations for our civil partnership on it. Since then there have been a few type related items cropping up on Twitter and in my RSS feeds and these reminded me of some items I’ve read before on the topic. So, I thought I’d collate them all here for your enjoyment.

The first is this video which I saw a while ago:

Next are a couple of posts from Char Booth’s blog, info-mational, which link to some cool type tools on the web:

Then there’s this cartoon strip by Mike Dempsey:

And then, the inspiration for this post, a thought for the week from the Johnson Banks blog:

And if you’re not sick of the sight of type yet, here’s a link to the photos from our day of printing:

Once A Week

Queen’s College Quad (2)

Originally uploaded by ekcragg

Last week I started a year long photography project called Once A Week. The aim of the project is to get me using my camera more and in the process, hopefully, improve my photography. I will post one photo a week to a new blog I’ve set up on Tumblr.

I know a lot of people out there are doing the 365 day challenge but I thought I’d take things slowly and start with just one photo a week. Maybe next year I’ll stretch myself a little more.

Obviously I am not just going to limit myself to taking one photo a week so you can check out the photos that didn’t make the cut on Flickr.