Colorwheel Toys

User Testing: Analog Products

Posted on: January 26, 2012

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User testing with analog toys
Goals: Test our user value proposition – Girls aged 5-9 (user) want our product. 
We performed analog product testing with 4 girls (aged 5-8) in San Jose this afternoon for 2.5 hours. We decided on a new user testing metric on the drive home: the child hour. In all, we experienced 10 child hours today. In addition, we tested a number of mini hypotheses related to the use and features of the product:

  • Users like making circuits (Result: yes, but find way to incorporate into their play past one session of building the circuit)
  • Girls like building toy cars (Result: Inconclusive)
  • Girls enjoy making jewelry (Result: Inconclusive, need to test a simpler method)
  • Girls help each other understand (Result: Yes)
  • Girls like making their own toys (Result: Yes)
  • Girls will play with a toy after they make it (Result: Yes)

Subjects: A, D, M, and C
M and C are sisters, C is 5 years old

Methods:

  1. Observe the girls in D’s home with her toys. Find answers to the following guiding questions:
    1. What are they playing with, and is it in the intended way?
    2. Do they make up a story?
    3. Are they all playing the same thing or playing independently?
    4. Are the toys props to a story or is the toy more important?
    5. Which are their favorites?
    6. How do they get new toys? Presents, hand-me-downs, ask for them?
  1. Give them Snap Circuits, let them play for 30 min and then take away.
  2. Give them Solar Building Kit, let them play for 30 min and then take away.
  3. Give them Lego Friends, let them play for 30 min and then take away.
  4. Teach them how to make friendship bracelets.
  5. Question each girl during and after play:
    1. Ask about each toy: what did they like, not like, what would they change/add?
    2. Rank toys and why.
    3. Would they use any of these again, why or why not?
    4. Would they play with these toys any differently next time?

Observations:
Playing with their toys:
D welcomed us into the house. We asked her to show us her toys. First she showed us a bag she made from a knitting Klutz kit. Pink, purple, and it looked pretty complicated. She’s working on a scarf next and seems pretty into the kit. It was out on the coffee table in the living room. Next, she pointed out her board games, a huge bead kit, and a magic set. Her mother commented that the shelf was filled with gifts from her birthday nearly two months ago that she hadn’t even touched yet. She brought out the magic kit to show us some tricks she remembered. The other girls arrived. A brought her American girl doll, which has it’s own roller suitcase, sunglasses, and picture book. The girls described the differences in American girl doll lines, and seemed most excited about the “Girl of the Moment” dolls. The company takes real girls and bases dolls off of them and their stories.

C sticks the doll glasses on a stuffed animal and gets told, “Dogs can’t wear sunglasses!” A says she likes brushing her doll’s hair. M says she’d rather be outside playing with the dog.

The girls run to play a dance video game on the tv.

Playing with the toys we brought:
We move on to the next round. We quickly realized that our analog testing plan would not work with the 4 girls. The kits lent themselves to single or two person play, so we decided to divide them into two groups and swap toys after half an hour. This worked for maybe 1 minute before they started questioning each other across the table, and a couple more minutes before some of them started migrating around to check out the other toy. We brought out the solar building kit and the snap circuits first. We followed with Lego Friends and then brought out the friendship bracelet materials. They ended the session with the things they had built, on the floor with a turtle and American girl doll, playing together.

Key insights:

  1. Directions need to be clear!
    1. They like video: “I want something I can pause and make it go slower”
    2. Talking and showing how to do it important
    3. For the legos, one girl is in charge of directions while the others assemble.
  2. If there isn’t constant positive feedback and gratification, they get bored. The girls went back and forth from toy to toy.
  3. For a kit like the snap circuits, if it isn’t possible to change around the circuit to make something different. Before they discover the second way to use the circuit, girls say they might pull the kit out again once or twice… maybe.
  4. If they can make something that provides more usable functionality, they would want to keep using it. If the circuit had a really bright light on it, A says she would take it under the covers to read her books.
  5. Friendship bracelets: Again, instant gratification. The girls only stay focused long enough to make a braid. When Alice tries to show them more complicated stitches, they do a couple stitches and then return to the other toys. One even asks Alice to finish her bracelet for her.
  6. Fine motor skills: There was a clear difference between the 5-year-old and the older girls. Most evident in friendship bracelet making.
  7. When they are playing, Bettina shows how to make a quick change in motor polarity to get the spinner to fly high into the air versus just serving as a fan. D announces that she now likes the toy so much more. “That was awesome!” and proceded to get all the other girls to check it out. Video of D’s reaction here.
  8. Customizable: C and D get excited to put stickers on the spinner for the snap circuit.
  9. Previous knowledge important. Since D had used snap circuits before (not this exact kit), she understands the basic principle that everything must be connected.
  10. Alice questions A about if she would like to use a kit to make her own projects. She says that she would like everything to be ready for assembly and then be able to decorate.
  11. They work together – Lego friends.
  12. They like mixing toys. When the Lego friends pieces are assembled, they bring those and the snap circuits over to play with a big stuffed turtle and the American girl doll.
  13. They really like animals. Easy consensus to make the puppy model with the solar kit. Maybe we could brand our own animal characters.
  14. There is an inherent awareness of a gender difference between toys even though they can’t explain why. For instance, Legos and cars were “boy toys”. D has some legos of her own, but doesn’t play with them much. She thought Lego friends was cooler than her current legos, but wasn’t sure why. We also brought two types of stickers to see if they would pick what would be considered girlier. The stickers with skull and crossbones (pirates), boats, and cars (versus flowers and cute bugs) were “boy stickers” with the reason “just ‘cause boys like them.” We asked if they decorated a car, could it be girly? “Yeah, we could make it cute!
  15. Girls copy each other in the fashion sense. A had her friendship bracelet tied in her hair and then D went to do the same thing shortly after.


Changes in existing products:

  1. Snap circuits: switch that stays down so they can leave the circuit on.
  2. Adding a light to the circuit, or music, or even a disco ball so they can have a dance party.
  3. Lego friends: The doll is creepy since her head can pop off.
  4. Solar kit: Motor skills required are way too advanced at this age. It was even difficult for Bettina to work with.
  5. Friendship bracelets: beads, lights!, and less complicated knots.


Ranking:

  1. D’s rankings from most to least favorite: snap circuits, Lego friends, friendship bracelets, solar kit. D also commented that Lego friends would be better if it had more pieces and instructions to make other things. The thing she liked about it was that it had a car with tires and her current legos don’t have wheel pieces. Also, one of the pieces looked like a couch and she liked that. Maybe this is because it was something she could relate to real life? She would’ve liked more “regular colors” like more greens and blues. She didn’t really care about there being pink pieces. It could just be that the outer packaging would make Lego friends appeal to girls since then it’s more clearly a girl product versus Legos generally being “boy toys”.
  2. C’s rankings: Friendship bracelets were her favorite. It may have also been because the other toys either required too advanced of motor skills (solar kit) or the older girls were dominating the playing (i.e. putting together Lego friends).

Future questions:

  1. If we build the solar module and gear box for the solar kit beforehand (this was the part with the fine wiring), then perhaps the solar kit would be easier to put together and they wouldn’t lose interest as easily.
  2. How do picture versus video directions compare? Lego’s directions worked very well as opposed to the solar kit’s diagrams.
  3. How will individual play compare to group play?

Future steps:
Test light up build an animal bag at Thursday afternoon testing.
Test future questions.

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