Arizona’s first open device lab for website testing and usability research
Above: ASU students work on website design at the Polytechnic School’s new Device & Usability Learning Lab that includes everything needed for website testing and usability research. Photographer: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU
You have just designed and built a new website. How can you make sure it works well across operating systems and browsers, and that it is easy to use?
Arizona State University’s Polytechnic School has opened a new Device & Usability Learning Lab that includes everything needed for website testing and usability research. It is modeled after the European concept of an open device lab and is the first of its kind in Arizona.
The Polytechnic School, located in Mesa, is one of ASU’s six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Its faculty members – experts in applied technology and engineering – created the lab as a unique learning environment to service the university and surrounding communities.
The lab features more than a dozen devices, including smart phones, tablets, laptops, computers, a smart TV and wearable technology from Apple, Android Kindle and Windows. One wall is lined with 12 computer monitors with Mac OS, Windows and Linux operating systems running Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
The highlight of the lab is that, by entering a website on the main computer, it populates instantly on all the lab devices.
The lab is focused on the user experience of a website that is achieved with cross-disciplinary collaboration in design, development and human systems engineering.
“It’s not just technology, it’s the human factors too,” said Christina Carrasquilla, an instructor in the Graphic Information Technology program. “We currently have a click tracking software that will track the
amount of time it takes to find and click on a link. For example, we would show test participants a website and ask them to find some information in it and the software would track where they clicked and how long it took. So, our lab tests for accessibility and usability—can all users access and easily use a website?”
Students will attend classes in the Lab starting in fall 2015. Faculty can include the lab in their research testing and staff are welcome to test websites in the lab.
Also beginning in the fall, community workshops will be hosted in the lab on topics ranging from HTML email to building a web app.
Eventually, the lab will be staffed and offer open community hours so that anyone can come in and test, collaborate and consult with others.
Currently, the lab is open to ASU and the public by appointment only by emailing deviceLab@asu.edu.
Sharon Keeler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering