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Student Test Fest

By Amy Deschenes, Library User Experience Specialist


On February 12, the Digital Learning and User Experience team partnered with groups from Harvard University Information Technology to host the first student usability “Test Fest” in the User Research Center. During the three-hour event, five undergraduate students—hired from Harvard Student Agencies—participated in user testing activities, followed by focus groups for HUIT and Harvard Library.

During the “Test Fest,” students moved between five different testing stations, staying at each for 15 minutes. The format is similar to speed dating and allowed the moderators to efficiently run five tests in a two-hour period. Activities included usability tests on Canvas, an online card sort, and an interview about research habits. The moderators attended training on how to run usability tests with Amy Deschenes prior to the event.

Recruiting students to participate in formal user tests can sometimes be challenging. With the “Test Fest” approach, students were hired by the HSA for participation in the testing as a part-time job. Shannon Rice from HUIT Academic Technology Group was beneficial in coordinating the event and arranging for the student hiring through the HSA.

"Test Fest was a great opportunity to gather some much-needed feedback from undergrads, one of our most elusive groups of users,” said Enrique Diaz, designer and multimedia specialist for Harvard College Library. “I was able to gather data that would’ve otherwise taken several hours over several days on my own.”

The User Research Center hopes to hold similar events in April and welcomes any staff who might be interested in running a user study activity as part of this event to contact

Want to learn more about library user experience research methods? Apply for the upcoming course taught by Harvard UX staff, Measuring Library UX

Article written by Amy Deschenes, Library User Experience Specialist.

Article published on March 23, 2016