Formative vs. Summative Testing

Problem: An unnamed pizza company is looking to increase online order usage on its existing website. I was directed to determine the best type of usability test, and present a brief argument to stakeholders for my selected type.

Approach: This assignment focused primarily on stages of development in relation to user testing. In this case, since the company had extensive existing framework in place, we would not want to discard that unless absolutely necessary.

Results: Understanding that formative research involves generation of brand new ideas, while summative builds off existing ideas, I suggested a summative study. Summative vs. formative was the sole focus on this assignment, and I produced a one-page argument for a summative test. To aid in explaining this to stakeholders, I also designed the visualization of difference between summative and formative tests.

The above sample is the final document produced in this assignment.

Lessons Learned: Aside from the obvious point of thinking critically about formative vs. summative testing, this assignment was a great exercise in considering how much stakeholders might know - or not know - in terms of the UX process and testing, and helped me explore ways to communicate concepts clearly in cases they may not have strong UX knowledge.

Interview Protocol

Problem: A startup company is looking to build a new task/reminder app from scratch. They need formative research to discover common pain points or wish list items for users.

Approach: Before drafting an interview protocol, I researched some other task and reminder apps to get a sense of the types of features they offered. This allowed me to more closely follow participant responses, as well as ask some more relevant direct questions.

Results: The page above is excerpted from the full interview protocol. This demonstrates the layout intended for easy reference by interviewers, and includes a summary of key goals, as well as a condensed summary and approximate time for different portions of the interview. This was intended to keep interviews as similarly structured as possible, making it easier to compare and contrast responses to obtain usable qualitative data.

This protocol was later used in actual interviews, and the results analyzed to create personas, followed by multiple rounds of wireframing.

Lessons Learned: The only real parameters given for this project were the overall goals, so the interview protocol was largely up to me to determine. I found that awareness of potential competing products can be very helpful in guiding interview questions and discussion.

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Created by Jonathan Bradley. Copyright 2021.