In order to find out how children interact with our toothbrush prototype,
we conducted a usability test. The test was a part of the prototype phase.
We expected to find out what the children liked and what they didn’t
like about the prototype. This information was important for us as it
would affect our upcoming design choices.
Three siblings constituted our test group. Two of them were girls at the
age of nine and six years old and a boy at the age of five. Their mother
was also present during the test. The test took place in the family’s
house in Gothenburg between 5 pm to 7 pm on the 5th of December 2003.
The test crew consisted of three people from the group where everyone
had specific roles during the test. Johan Bergsten was the test leader
and Jenny Dafgård the photographer. Pia Hammargren was observing
and taking notes.
None of us had significant experience of doing tests with children. In
order to prepare ourselves we read articles related to the subject. One
of the articles Children
as Our Technology Design Partners (A. Druin, 1998), brings up
things to think about when performing prototype tests with children. We
learned, for example, that when you as a test crew spend time with the
children, you should rather sit on your knees or lie on the floor to be
on the children’s wavelength.
The articles also brings up that a there should always be more than one
child in a test group where several grow ups are watching. A lonely child
will feel suppressed in such an environment. Likewise one adult should
never be included in a test group with several children. The group dynamic
can then be similar to a school setting. This means that the children
will expect the adult to take a leading role in the group and that the
children’s own thoughts and ideas will be hard to catch. Druin consider
the idealistic prototype testing setup to be a group of two or three adults
and three to four children. With Druin’s recommendations in mind
we decided that only three of us should participate, as our test group
constituted three children. During the test, the three of us took different
roles. Those were; test leader, photographer and observer.
Before the test took place we had heard from the children’s mother
that they don’t like to brush their teeth. One of our goals was
to see if we could change their opinions.
Three phases of the usability test:
We showed the children the casings of two electrical toothbrushes. The
casings are two alternatives to use in the coming implementation of our
prototype. We also asked the children how they thought brushing could
be made more fun.
Why? By showing the toothbrushes we wanted to
find out if the children liked them and which of them they preferred.
Based on the answers we can build our prototype on the most popular toothbrush.
We also wanted to gather more ideas from the children on how we can make
the tooth brushing more fun.
Result: The oldest and the youngest child preferred
(one girl and one boy) the toothbrush with the white horse motive (see
Design impacts: The children’s choice of toothbrush
influenced our selection of toothbrush for prototype implementation. But
our choice was also dependent on how much space there was for fitting
electronic components into the toothbrush. Luckily the children picked
the most roomy toothbrush housing.
We let the children try and explore our first prototype built on an experimental
board with heavy wiring to a laptop.
Why? We wanted to se the children’s reaction
and get comments on the toothbrush’s features and functions.
The children’s test of the toothbrush gave a lot of laughs and the
test persons seemed to really appreciate and enjoy trying it out. Just
the music itself was fun for them but that the tempo was changing was
at the beginning a bit hard for them to figure out. The six year old girl
did not want to try the toothbrush but showed in her way that she liked
it. She was dancing when the other children was trying the toothbrush.
Design impacts: We did the toothbrush more sensitive
for tempo changes so the tempo would change more often.
We let the children draw sketches of their dream toothbrushes.
Why? We had read that some children find it
easier to express their ideas by painting instead of expressing their
thoughts in words.
The paintings can show us what the children may have liked about our prototype
and the electrical toothbrush housings. A mix of what they have experienced
in combination with what they like with their ordinary toothbrushes may
contribute to their sketches.
Result: Both the girls enjoyed painting and
draw several drawings of toothbrushes they would like to have. Their brother
was more into testing the prototype and was restless, but he had time
to paint two drawings. The girls colored the drawings, wrote them names
and described how they would sound. Some of the drawings we got were a
a sun, a
giraffe, a mouse
and a purple