April 2021, 8th to 11th
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With the LOUSTIC, user-centred testing is at the heart of inOut experiments

While digital project testing is often carried out at the end of the process, the Laboratoire d'observation des usages des TIC (LOUSTIC), an ICT observatory and a platform of the Human Sciences Institute in Brittany (MSHB), supports experiments right from the very first stages of the design process. Interview with the LOUSTIC's scientific coordinator, Ludivine Guého.

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What practices does the observatory deploy?

We have a multidisciplinary approach that allows us to have complementary views on the uses of innovative products. We support both basic (theoretical model development) and applied research (product design, interface improvement and similar). In every case, we deploy our user-centric methodology to evaluate the solutions that have been developed and to formulate proposals to improve them. The crux of our approach is to make the user central to the innovative product design process. Making users part of the design process very early on enables us to design for and with them.

How did you become involved in working on inOut experiments?

Today, the LOUSTIC is a recognised platform for the observation of ICT use. We cover various fields but focus in particular on mobility and e-learning. Rennes Métropole, therefore, contacted us to assist with inOut. First of all, we’re involved in reviewing applications. If our know-how in respect of usability testing is relevant, we provide support for experiments.

Can you give us an example of a project in which you’re involved?

Having reviewed the ‘Inclusive Mobility Accelerator’ project file involving Picto Access, Eegle and Handimap, we felt that our expertise could be of interest. This project aims to develop a tool for visualising the accessibility of places in the metropolitan area (shops, hotels, restaurants, services, public bodies, and public transport) that could be used by councillors or those departments in charge of accessibility matters. We’re supporting this experiment by setting up interviews with stakeholders concerned by accessibility issues (associations for the disabled, tourism sector players, urban service operators and similar) to establish existing practices and what accessibility issues they have. This will enable us to assess the suitability of the visualisation tool that has been developed. Interviews include a demonstration of the tool and this allows us to gather opinion on the device. The goal is to identify the barriers and levers for using this device, to see if they think it would be useful and identify which features should be integrated for it to meet their needs and so on. The aim is to come up with a final version that meets the needs of the community and creates a positive experience. We are also supporting the CROWDLOC project; a software solution that via a Bluetooth tracker and a smartphone application, helps a community of users locate stolen bikes. Here, we’re going to conduct a suitability survey using a questionnaire to find out whether potential users would be ready to use the device. We’re also involved with the SmartCrosswalk project led by LACROIX Lab, which is a project aimed at optimising and streamlining traffic by taking into account the different forms of transport typically encountered at crossroads. Here we will be assessing the psychosocial impacts and changes in mobility behaviour. More specifically, we will be involved in supporting our partners in setting up a field survey questionnaire aimed at assessing users’ (pedestrians, motorists, and so on) experience of pedestrian crossings and waiting times.

While digital solution developers don’t always quite appreciate the point of usability testing, this seems to be changing, don’t you think?

Indeed, although some startups already appreciate the value of this approach, some still see it as an obligatory step for validating their project, without necessarily perceiving the real benefits. And yet this step is a crucial one given the human and financial stakes involved. Designers have a vision of their product that is very often different from that of end-users because they can be more tech-savvy, for example. It is necessary to show the advantages of testing to show that we use a rigorous process and proven tools. This is something that Rennes Métropole and inOut understand well, and it allows us to put our skills at the service of startups who don’t always have the methods or the means to set up effective in-house testing mechanisms.

Photo credits: LOUSTIC

Publié le 4 March 2020

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