DIY usability testing 101

The thing with usability testing is that there are so many tools and services available that it's easy to dive into their pool of free trials, get infatuated with one, only for the price to bring you back to reality. I often told myself...

“if you used the tool 100 times then technically it's only 3 quid a go… per year”😖.

The Delboy in me wouldn't let me do it, I had to find a way to improvise.

Breaking down the usability products I loved and recalling visits to custom built test centres. I simplified what I wanted the DIY usability testing rig to do:

  • Record the device screen

  • Record users interactions

*Nice to have: Record facial expressions

Using the expertise at my disposal, I had a heart to heart Larry (Boiler Room’s Head of Live production) and explained what I was trying to achieve, within 15 minutes he slacked me “OBS” and nothing was the same.

OBS Project is a free and open source software for video recording and live streaming and is typically used by gamers and up and coming youtubers

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How to setup your own rig

You will need recording devices.
I used a Webcam and the Mac screen recording functionality

  1. Download  and install OBS studio https://obsproject.com/download
  2. Selected the type of the input source
  3. Add a “Video capture device”
  4. Add another depending on where you want to record from, this could be a “Video capture device” or a “Window capture”
  5. Layer them Correctly on the screen feedback and start recording

Using this setup I was able to setup a Apple TV usability test to understand how our users interacted with the the device during the research phase of our Boiler Room TV platform.

Usability test script