By OLLY EADES
Innovation has become a bit of a buzz word. The reality is that anyone can be innovative in any area of any role. Innovative over a process, over a document structure, over a method of communication. Innovation is not just limited to products as we typically view it.
I try to be innovative in all the areas of my job. In the ideation and design of products, this is a pretty easy concept to comprehend. I will also look to be innovative in the way we document a project summary or a test protocol.
For these the key question I ask myself is: what is the best way for someone to absorb this information? Is it a poster, a presentation or a report?
My key innovation this month is in the way we test. This can be as simple as dividing a room into two and putting a screen between the two. By doing this I have created a new test scenario, whereby we are able to test two participants in the same test at the same time, which has drastically reduced the amount of time required to complete our testing: the only way to hit a rather squeezed timeline.
Innovation is not just limited to products as we typically view it.
Innovation in the way we collect the data has also been powerful. We collect a lot of perception data using Visual Analogue Scales (VAS). These require a test participant to place a line between two extremes of a variable, e.g. temperature. The line is a set length and the distance the participant marks along the line indicates their score for that variable.
Typically, we have always done this using paper and a pen. This method is highly effective and very easy to implement. It does, however, require the tester to manually measure every result.
The current test I am running involves 7 different VAS questions, each of which is asked for two conditions at 5 different times throughout the test. We are also testing 30 participants. In total that is 2100 different VAS scores.
For the pilot testing we had 330 VAS scores to analyse on paper and this took approximately 3 hours to process. This would mean that 2100 VAS scores would take close to 2.5 days of solid, back breaking, VAS score measuring.
To combat this, I have employed a little iPad app called Scale Kit. It is a very simple app that is not particularly intuitive. I have had to use a piece of paper to help describe each score in addition to the app too, but it has enabled us to take the VAS scores using the iPad.
These scores can then be saved straight from the app to Dropbox (a nice little feature) as a text file. These text files can then be processed using a script and output straight into an excel document that shoes my data in a manageable, analysable way.
This took about an hour to set up, will take a few hours to write the code (if that) and not long to make a results file that I would have to create anyway. I would guess that equates to 2 days saved for a small bit of innovation in my test method. What can you innovate on?