Last week was very interesting for us. We spent two days in usability lab observing how people use Java ME SDK 3.0 and we collected a lot of useful information from this usability study.

We could see four usability study participants every day. Some of them were professional developers, some of them students with different level of Java ME knowledge. It was a really edifying experience to observe people with varied Java ME skills using a product which they haven't had seen before. Each participant got one and half hour to finish three tasks. The tasks were designed to cover general product functionality as well as specialized features, e.g. sensor emulation. Java ME SDK engineering team did a lot of notes and we are looking forward for the results from the user experience team who organized the study for us. We should get the results next week but we have already started to think how to improve the product usability.

Do you want to know how the usability lab looks like? It consists of two rooms, darkened and well-lid, separated by two-way mirror. It allows people in the darkened room to see into the lighted room but not vice versa. I'm sure you know this kind of room from criminal movies. In our case the rooms are equipped better than on police stations and usability study participants feel there more pleasantly than suspects in police interrogation room. We are also much more friendly than police officers :-)

The participant sits alone in the lighted room and working on usability study tasks. Participants are asked to think aloud to allow observers in the next room to follow their mind. User experience team is recording participant's voice, face and desktop to be able to analyze their work-flow later.

We'd like to thank to all participants for attending Java ME SDK usability study and to user experience team for organizing this study. It was very inspiring for us. Thank you!

Following pictures show participant and observers rooms.

This is what really didn't happen during the usability study ... at least not during our study :-))