Product Design

Introducing WillowTree Usability Labs

observers in the foreground in WillowTree's Usability lab, while user research is conducted in the adjoining room

On the WillowTree User Experience team, we pride ourselves on making beautiful mobile experiences. Every idea, pixel, and interaction work together in concert to create something that’s both great to look at and delightful to use. That mix doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. We are always sharing our designs and ideas with each other, our partners, and with real potential users to validate the design decisions and assumptions we’re making along the way.

We have a number of ways to make this happen. For example, our strategy team uses Kano surveys to test ideas for delight and expectation and we use services like Validately to test designs remotely.

However, using remote methods of testing is a compromise. No matter how great the online tool, there’s simply no replacement for facilitating and observing a user test in real time, in real physical space. In person, you can react in real time to questions. Subjects don’t get stumped as easily by a low fidelity prototype. Emotions, ergonomics, and errors can be more easily observed, recorded, and analyzed. You can’t beat it.

Today, I’d like to announce the launch of our next foray into mobile user testing: WillowTree Usability Labs. WillowTree Usability Labs is a physical space built to our UX team’s specifications to help us conduct better in-person user tests. The space includes an observation room, 2-way mirror, and a testing room with a multiple cameras and microphone configuration for recording.

Take a look at a user test we conducted in our Usability Labs:

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