Wikimedia Research/Design Research/Prototyping Labs

Prototyping Labs are bi-weekly (every other week) user testing labs run by the Reading team's UX department in conjunction with the Design Research department.

The Goal edit

To build exceptional reading experiences for our users, we must first understand who they are and what they need. Prototyping Labs are one way to obtain those insights.

How we learn from our users edit

Every two weeks, we hold sessions with users who have signed up to participate. These users are readers of Wikipedia with little to no editing experience, which represents the majority of the world.

Our participants, who have signed a release form and have been given initial instructions/relevant links, join a Google Hangout with a Design Researcher or other trained facilitator. There may also be up to one other person in the room with that researcher, sitting in to take notes. The session is recorded and, depending on the participant's wishes, shared within the organization.

Internal staff may observe any session by following that session's YouTube link in the calendar invite. (For legal/privacy reasons we cannot share these sessions publicly at this time.) We encourage staff to try to observe sessions to gain insights that may be obscured by the biases we all carry with us as human beings. Try it sometime! It's really interesting!

During the session, the facilitator will ask a series of questions to learn more about them and the ways they use technology, learn new things, and engage with Wikipedia. This information is collected for regular analysis and incorporation into how we build our next features and products.

Two Main Categories of Testing edit

The testing that will take place in Prototyping Labs falls under two categories:

Baseline understandings, done at each session edit

  • Get to know the participant! Where do they live? What do they do? What languages do they speak?
  • What kinds of tech devices do they use? When and where do they use them?
  • What is their internet connectivity like?
  • What kinds of things do they do on their devices?
  • Do they collaborate with people online? How?
  • How do they learn online? Where do they go? (They walk us through some scenarios)
  • What inspires them to learn online?
  • Have they ever been curious about editing or engaging with Wikipedia in other ways?
  • What is their experience like with Wikipedia specifically? Do they know about the mission/etc?
  • What is their experience with searching on Wikipedia?

Prototype usability, when prototypes have been submitted for testing edit

Depending on the specifics of the prototype, the participants will get a walk-through of some steps to see how they understand and interact with the feature being tested. Sometimes this is on a prototype, sometimes the "prototype" is a beta version of an app, sometimes we even just want to test specific scenarios. All are good candidates for the Prototyping Lab.

Here are some of the things we might ask or observe from our conversations about specific prototypes/features with participants:

  • Did they have issues? What were the issues?
  • How did the experience make them feel? Frustrated? Amazed? Excited? (We like when they say "Aha!!")
  • What had they expected? Did this experience match with that?
  • If the experience was weird, did they learn it easily and get over the initial weirdness?
  • Could they perform tasks efficiently?

More Info edit

For now, these sessions are focused on Readers, but in the future perhaps similar sessions could be run by members of the other verticals in conjunction with the Design Research department. If you are a member of other teams that would like to talk about the particular characteristics of your products and learnings your team might want to explore, please submit a task on Phabricator to the Design Research Backlog board so that we can review your request and prioritize it correctly.