My mother tried an iPhone for the first time. Here’s my Hallway Usability Testing report.
Slide to Unlock
Easy Start. Knew to take her finger, touch the “slider” and move it to the right all the way. The instructional text and appearance of a groove that affords sliding the slider along it win the day.
Problem occurred during release. She’s being very deliberate with her actions, which caused an issue here and later. She’s thinking about what she’s seeing and her next action, which causes a delay: she didn’t just quickly lift her finger from the screen to complete the unlock.
Instead, she unintentionally let her finger slide to the left a bit while waiting for the iPhone to do something (she’s used to computers also taking a while to do something, so it may not just be her being tentative but also her waiting to see if the machine needs to “catch up” to her actions” (a sadly common occurrence)).
When nothing happened, she lifted her finger from the screen only to watch the slider spring back to its original virtual resting position.
She tried again, only more slowly since the machine wasn’t operating as expected, so perhaps she has to do things even more slowly. Same result.
I hinted at her to try lifting her finger faster, and then she was able to succeed.
Suggestion: Slide to Unlock would benefit by taking into account time spent with the finger down on the unlock position and/or additional slop as to what’s considered a valid unlock request.
Seemed fine enough. No problem thinking of icons as touchable buttons. No expressed puzzlement of the two tiers of icons on the top and another set of icons along the bottom (the dock).
I took the liberty of moving all the apps I knew she wouldn’t use to the second page and even the Utility apps (Voice Memos, Calculator, etc) out of their confusing group and onto the normal page.
She mentioned the Clock is wrong. She thought it odd since the other, textual clocks were correct (the first on the Slide to Unlock screen and the uppermost status bar clock). The Calendar app’s date is correct, so she has no reason to believe that the Clock’s icon just happens to be static. I never noticed this inconsistency myself.
Suggestion: while I’d probably be annoyed at it (especially with the second hand), the Clock app’s icon should be live and accurate.
In the same vein, she noted the Weather app must be showing the inside temperature (72°) since it’s currently in the mid-30°s outside when she was looking at it.
Suggestion: the Weather app should display the current location’s weather/temperature or a new, different static icon that’s clear isn’t trying to represent current conditions.
I told her to press the Mail icon. Again she got snagged by her deliberate movements, and accidentally triggered wiggle (icon rearrangement) mode. Apps wouldn’t launch and she didn’t know how to fix it.
Suggestion: wiggle mode is such a bad idea. Better to have a dedicated app to arrange Springboard pages/groups.
Like many (most?) people, she doesn’t understand URLs, so I typed in Google from her and then puzzled how to navigate to Google News (google.com now hides it under their burger button). She used Google News on her Mac, so I wanted to show her the same information is available on the iPhone. I wanted her to see something that offered the safety of familiarity.
She was immediately thwarted when tapping a headline link opened the page in a new tab. Her Google News page was pushed away and the Los Angeles Times’ page came frontmost. Because it was a new page, the back button wasn’t enabled. She was at a loss at how to go back, not noticing the nondescript tabs button that held the key to her return.
Suggestion: Safari should initially operate in a simpler single-page-at-a-time mode, which is how nonadvanced users use the web or do a better job of visually indicating and managing multiple tabs. Granted, this is a hard design problem.
When she opened the Weather app, she wondered whether it was showing the upcoming weather or historical weather.
I showed her Google Maps and had her type in a old address. She informed me that her fingers were too large to possibly hit the little keyboard. I assured her to try anyway, and after wrestling with finger placement to compensate for her nails (see below) she was able to input an address and switch back to the alphabetic keyboard without prompting (I prompted her on how to switch to the numeric keyboard).
I sent her a link via iMessage to look at a page on Amazon. The link was long, and wrapped extensively. For some reason tapping anywhere on the link except the first line didn’t work to open the page. This bug reduced her confidence that blue underlined text is universally tappable on iPhones.
I told her a few times to press the home button. She was confused as to which button it was. I considered calling it the Rounded Rectangle Button, but that seemed excessively wordy. I wish Apple would have used a house icon (something like ⌂) instead of the current quite-rounded rectangle. The downside is a house icon suggests an orientation, and could be annoying if your primary use is in a different orientation.
She tried to use her fingernails to touch things, which are long enough that they do a good job of keeping her fingertips away from being detected by the capacitive touch screen. Here a resistive touch screen actually has an edge (not that I’d ever go back).