Monday, December 01, 2008

Whys, Dos, and Don’ts While Conducting Usability Testing in India

Again, I am picking this blog entry from Sneha's post on Kern's blog.

While conducting user research in India, work closely with your local partners. Here are some do's, don'ts, and whys that will help give you a perspective.

Do's Don'ts Whys
Discuss goals and the reason for each goal before your local partner starts recruiting. Do not just send a document with your requirements.Reasons:Different cultures interpret English differently.

Your requirements may have different cultural implications.

Having this discussion will have you and your Local Usability Company (LUC) on the same page from the onset.

In one of our projects, client wanted to test their product on parents with babies.

Client goal:
To understand product usage of recent parents with stable income and who provide for a family.

Our understanding
before discussion: To test how parents interact with the product and their child simultaneously.
Explicitly explain each participant's profile. As stated above, do not expect the document to do all the talking. Client stated requirement: Parents with babies.

Their intended requirement: Infants

Our understanding before Discussion:

Kern was able to clarify the participant profile because of early discussions with our client.

Request your local partner to guide you with user profiles. Do not assume the goals of user profiles to remain consistent throughout the world. Client's Expected User Profile: Users from SEC*-C and D who use low-end mobile phone.

Indian Reality
:  SEC C and D have high aspirational value. Many have high end mobiles as for social status value.

* Socio-Economic Class
Ask local partners about the language of the study according to user profiles. Do not assume the language of usage. Let the LUC be the best judge of thisIn India, not every Socio-Economic Class (SEC) requires the usability testing to be conducted in the native language. Client Expectation: Conduct study in native tongue.

Indian Reality:
Certain sections communicate better in English.

India has 29 official languages. 1 national language. National language is not spoken fluently by most in south India. Hence English is the preferred language.
Ask about appropriate location for the study. Do not force your understanding of the most ideal location for the study. Client Requirement: Conduct the study only in the metropolitan cities.Kern realised that the profile could be matched in any Indian city.

Indian Metro Reality:

·   Anywhere is far away in metros, commute is a huge problem.

·   This affects participation.

·   For participants, attending a UT during the work week would be sacrificing an entire work day because of the commute.

Ask LUC to localize the protocol. Listen to what LUC says about how users may behave or why some tasks may be relevant or not. Do not, for the sake of consistency, be rigid about modifying the protocol. In our experience, not localising the protocol results in Moderators spending double the time explaining the tasks and requirements to the participant. The questions were not relevant to the Indians context. This skews the results, giving false positives or negatives.
Be present during the study — some results may be startling! Ask LUC about the possible reasons for such results. Do not expect the recordings to help you 'catch up' on the proceedings. Being present also ensures immediacy; clarifying doubts or key observations immediately. This ensures that you get the core issues as and when the product is being tested.
Have a quick de-brief session with LUC after each study — make detailed notes. It will help you understand local culture well. Ask the LUC to provide cultural insights as a part of the deliverables. Don't expect the details in the report to give you a complete understanding. De-brief will give you that extra bit of understanding that a formal report cannot. Kern ensures that clients don't leave with just the numbers or even its implications but with an understanding of the whys behind the implications.

In addition, ask your local partners to suggest solutions to the problems found. You may find solutions that are contrary to your thinking. Ask reasons for such solutions.

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