Prototyper of the Week

Cue Quizzes Their Users

Every week, we recognize the Highway1 team that was most active in the lab with the prestigious Prototyper of the Week award.

The Fall 2016 cohort’s second winner, Cue, is somewhat unusual in that they didn’t actually build anything: they won for their approach to user testing. Here to tell the team’s story in their own words is CEO Cam Urban.

“Usability testing is baked into our entire product development process. Every couple of weeks, we have at least a handful of users test our product, which helps us to benchmark progress and better understand the types of things we should be prioritizing. It’s important to us that we empower our users by giving them a stake in product development; we want them to be invested in our success.

“This past week, we talked with eight users and ran them through three different categories of usability testing:

  • An open-ended task where they used the device without instruction. This gave us a sense for how people perceive the device for the first time and the types of scenarios they’re most likely to use it for.
  • Then we’d guide them through scenarios we recently built as a result of what we learned from the previous usability test; the data and feedback we collect here helps us fine-tune and improve the existing experience.
  • Finally, we’d guide them through scenarios we’re planning on building; just knowing how people would interact with these scenarios helps us to get the experience right the first time and ensures that we don’t spend cycles building things users don’t care about.

“Afterwards, we’d take them through a survey where we were able to get more open qualitative feedback on the issues and features we’ve been discussing over the last couple weeks.

“We have a gut sense for the types of things we should be working on, but until end users tell us these things are important, we’re really just guessing. Out of the hundreds of things we could possibly build, usability testing helps us to prioritize and understand the real pain points. When you’re heads-down building a product, it’s easy to make assumptions; you’re very focused on what you’re doing, and you can be blind to a fresh perspective. Usability testing gives us an opportunity to take a step back and regain the mindset of a user.

“We wanted to make sure all three of us on the team were involved. First, it’s important to see your work in action; the context informs future decisions and it shows you how your work is valued. Second, the three of us approach problem-solving in different ways, and we often come away with our own unique insights; together, though, we always end up making the right decision.”

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