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User Testing in Japan. Posted on 09/03/2002.

For the folks who read my site for "usability information" (and lord knows why there would be any left), here's some perspective on performing user testing in Japan.

So far, we've had three user tests. They've been performed in the offices of Ion Global, with the test in one room, captured on video, and a cable allowing us to see the video through a monitor in another room. I never did like those two-way mirror set ups.

The people include: Tomoo, who is acting as a kind of project manager for Ion Global; Miki Imazu, a budding usability moderator (with past experience in marketing); and Christian Storms, our interpreter, who provides play-by-play so that I and the client (James, from PeopleSoft) have a clue as to what is happening.

The testing has all been pretty straightforward. A common conception of the Japanese people is that they will be unwilling to speak out in a user testing environment, for fear of being impolite. Well, after three tests, that has, thankfully, proven not to be the case. With some prompting, they are more than happy to "think aloud", be it praise or criticism (though the testers have been more apologetic after dissing the design).

In all, the kinds of commentary we're hearing from Japanese testers is pretty much in line with what we'd hear in America. One interesting difference is a focus on color. While American testers might simply state that they do or don't like a certain color, Japanese testers have voiced interest in why a certain color was chosen, suggesting they're reading potential meaning into colors.

Recipe For Foreign Language User Testing
- 1 video camera
- 1 video tape per participant
- 1 computer, with monitor
- Video cable(s) long enough to connect camera and television
- 1 scan converter (optional)
- 1 video mixing board (optional)
- 1 television monitor
- 1 microphone
- 1 tape recorder
- 1 audio tape per participant

- 1 project manager/overseer
- 1 moderator (could be same as project manager)
- 1 interpreter
- Enough participants to witness trends

Set up video camera, with video tape.

If you want to shell out the extra money for a scan converter (to capture what's on the screen), and a video mixing board (for picture-in-picture), great. It's not necessary. You can have just one camera, looking over the participant's shoulder, onto the screen, so you can get part of the participant's face and the entire screen. Some folks attach mirrors to the monitors so you can capture face and screen that way.

Run cable to monitor (or mixing board). If you're cable isn't long enough, get an extension cable. Daisy chain them if you have to.

Provide tape recorder and microphone to interpreter.

When the test begins, the moderator will turn on the camera, and then begin speaking with the participant in the local language. The interpreter will provide a play-by-play for observers in the Other Room, which is also being recorded on audio tape.

Back "home", you can relive the experience by playing the video tape through a television, turning down the sound, popping the audio tape in a stereo, fiddle with the timing so both tapes are synced, and then sit back and enjoy.

1 comment so far. Add a comment.

Previous entry: "Lunch."
Next entry: "Morning Walk to Tsukiji."


Thanks for the link.
Hope to catch your act when I'm in San Fran sometime.
The plot thickens over here. I finished up doing voice actor directing work for Sony Playstation, then spent a day with a TV crew who was doing a story on me. I went to see a band that I am doing a music video for at the beach on Saturday night/Sunday sunrise and then spent the rest of the morning surfing.
I've got an audition for the main role in a short film today.
Christian (in name only)
Posted by Christian Storms @ 09/08/2002 11:30 PM PST [link to this comment]

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