Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mobile games usability methods

Usability testing
The only certain way to verify that a user interface works is to test it with real end users. Ultimately, without testing, refining, and retesting the user interface, a developer takes a big risk and will almost certainly produce a final product with serious or even critical usability flaws.
There are several ways to find out how well the UI works and how to improve it. Listed below are some of the most important and useful ways. Their costs, the work they require, and the results vary, and certain methods are more suitable for particular situations.

Usability guidelines are a list of recommendations concerning the concept, user interface, and information architecture of mobile games and devices. They have been developed through extensive user testing and provide a way of creating appropriate and consistent products. With guidelines, the most typical usability problems can be avoided.

Expert analysis
In expert analysis, a usability specialist evaluates the product from the user’s perspective. The result is a list of potential and existing problems and concrete recommendations for how to develop the product further. Expert analysis can reveal problems that are not covered by the guidelines.

Single-user testing
In single-user testing, real end users use the product and are observed by usability analysts in order to find out where they encounter problems and if they use all the features. Single-user testing provides valuable data in a natural context and reveals problems that end users experience.

Group testing
The games are tested with a group of users, permitting multiplayer games and more competitive play situations, as well as a more relaxed environment. Group testing is a fast, cost-effective way to test with several users, but it lacks the personal approach of single-user testing.

Satisfaction survey
Satisfaction surveys provide statistical data in a standardized form, which can be used to evaluate the users' attitudes towards playability, feel of control, and mobile game interest in general. The effect of usability problems on the use experience can be assessed. If used in different phases of development, the impact of changes in the product can be estimated.

End-user analysis
End-user analysis consists of researching market data and user base segmentation and interviewing developers and end users of the product. This helps developers design mobile samsung games to fill the market’s needs and locate possible openings for new product ideas. User groups should be identified at an early phase of the developing process. When the user groups are known, their demands for game development can be specified.

At times, developers may encounter usability issues about which they hesitate to make decisions. A usability expert can provide valuable insights and help the developer avoid a wrong decision that might prove costly.