Usability Study of Initial User Experience

Kurzweil Educational Systems Inc is a leading manufacturer of highly innovative technology to assist learning disabled students. Kurzweil hired Kay to perform a usability study of special education teacher's first impressions of their product. They also wanted a detailed understanding of environmental forces within a school system that would impact adoption of this product.

Kay directed the recruitment and usability testing of special educators who work with middle and high school students. Her client wanted a keen sense of the user experience from the time a teacher received a demo disk through their first use of the product.

At the beginning of each usability session, Kay handed the standard product package with a CD to each participant, asking them to pretend they had received it at a teacher conference. They were asked to "do what they would normally do" if they were curious to learn about the product. This simple directive produced highly valuable insights (e.g., none of the 10 participants bothered to read the instructions - they slipped the CD into the computer!)

We then asked the testers to perform basic operations with the product - scan books, listen to the dictation, change reading voices, all the while asking them to tell us how their student population might react to this product. We also included questions to provide insights into how this product would fit into the educator's daily routine as well as potential institutional obstacles to its adoption within their school. This exercise produced considerable usability feedback, as well as ideas for refinements to product packaging and documentation.