Hi @megadawn I will try and give all the info I can, but if I’ve left any blanks or you have any further questions please feel free to ask.
We had a room in the office, which was not being used much so we decided to give it a new purpose in life! A lick of paint and some new carpet and we were ready to begin.
A big part of creating a usability lab is making it a comfortable place; for a user it’s quite scary to come to a new office, meet new people and do something you probably haven’t done before, so making them feel as much at home as possible is a great start. We’ve added a bookcase and coat rack to make it feel less clinical, and added some canvas pictures to the walls to brighten the space a bit.
Lighting is another important thing to consider in the room, we, unfortunately, don’t have a window in the room but luckily we have dimmable lighting, and a floor lamp, which are very important when it comes to mobile and tablet testing. You’ll often find with ceiling lights you get a lot of glare when trying to video mobiles and tablets.
Another very important thing is the seating, you want them to feel comfortable and relaxed, don’t go for something too modern that could date quickly, and you also want something of fairly high quality that will last. We also opted for leather seating as this is easier to keep clean, the last thing you want is for a user to show up and the environment be dirty!
The final piece of furniture is the desk. We have opted for a large corner desk, so we can seat the user facing towards the corner and have the moderator sat behind them, out of eye-line. This is very important as it makes it more difficult for the user to communicate with the facilitator.
To record the user we have a webcam attached to the wall to record their facial expressions, and we also have screen recording software on the computer which records mouse movements and clicks. We also have a separate microphone so we can hear what the user is saying at all times. The software we use is Morae, and we had a 2 day training course from User Focus to get us trained up on that.
We then also have a separate room where we can sit a number of observers. It’s important that the observers can’t be heard in the lab when they are observing as this would be very off-putting for the user. We have very strict rules for how the observers should act when we have users in the building. In this room is a large TV, which we connect to a laptop that enables a number of people to make observations, most on paper and one in the software itself.
For inviting users we are very lucky to have a large user base of our software and a lot of contact details for them. We can send out invitations and surveys through our software which allows us to build a good list of test users. Our support team then call them and ask some questions to work out if they are suitable for our particular test. We find that we get around 40% of people either cancel or no-show, so we factor this in to our figures when finding users. This number tends to be lower if we can text the user a reminder the day before.
I hope this helps. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask.