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Test Lab of Horror: Halloween 2013

Test Lab of Horror: Halloween 2013

Welcome to the Test Lab of Horror

This is where once a year at Warptest you can hear the rattle of chains, the howl of a wolf in the distance, the slow, sinister creak of floorboards in the dark and more…

Let your imagination run rampant at the phrase Test Lab of Horror. What could be horrific in a Test Lab?

No! No! Anything But That…

Last year it occurred to me, one dark and stormy night (of course) how interesting it would be to perform an experiment in the Test Lab and in the real world too.

Something that would strike terror in the very core of my test subjects. So I decided to see what would happen if we took Smartphone users out of their comfort zones.

Majorly out of their comfort zones.

Let’s call our test lab subjects Tom, Dick, Harry and Sue.

Tom is an inveterate iPhone user, Dick an Android Phone user, Harry is a devout Blackberry user and Sue is devoted to her Windows Phone.

Imagine getting the test subjects to agree to go one day, unaided, uninstructed with an unfamiliar Smartphone… all the while hooked up to a diagnostic monitor to record brainwaves, heartbeat, pulse, blood pressure and breathing.

Imagine we now set the test subjects various tasks to complete throughout the day as a competition with these unfamiliar Smartphones.

What do you think the diagnostic monitors would show?

  1. Make and receive calls. At first with nothing else happening on the phone.
  2. Listen to music / Watch a video from the web.
  3. Receive a call or access voicemail from a missed call whilst listening to music or watching video.
  4. Save a new Contact and see if it is possible to link that information to other accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn for the same contact)
  5. Add the user’s accounts for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or their email.
  6. Tom would have to open a new Gmail account, Dick an account … and so on.
  7. Each would then have to access their new cloud storage connected to the new email.
  8. Sync the phone.
  9. Find the app store for the phone and add new apps.
  10. Find directions to travel to a specified location following the map/GPS application.
  11. Post content to social networks and include the fact to their friends that they were trying out said Smartphone.
  12. Update the OS on the phone.

The Warptest POV

The anxiety that using an unfamiliar Smartphone can cause, no matter how intuitive, is no small matter. Especially when the person in question is strongly attached or invested in a specific platform or OS. The true fanboi’s would almost certainly reject any better UX out of hand (probably as vociferously as this):

I suspect that some users are able to work through their initial fear and inability to cope with the unfamiliar.

At the end of the day some of us are so dependent on our Smartphones, even as productivity devices that we might suck it up and experiment enough to find the solution ourselves.

The question you are probably asking yourself, is how would you cope in our Test Lab?

No fanboi’s were harmed or traumatized in the experiments that led to this post (honest).


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