One of my favourite places at Telstra
As a User Experience Designer, my role is all about understanding users, business and technology and using that knowledge to design successful products and services. It’s about delighting customers, making things simpler, and defining the experience we want our customers to have.
2011 was a good year for user experience at Telstra, a highlight for me being the launch of the Telstra Experience Centre in Melbourne, which hosts what I believe, is possibly the best product testing facility in Australia. If you’re in anyway involved in product development or testing this should be one of your favourite places.
The Home and Business Labs run by the User Experience Team provide the ideal facility for teams to improve their understanding of their product and their customer, gain insight into goals, expectations and needs, or even explore a range of product prototypes.
Each lab consists of two rooms: a room for the customer with a range of cameras, and a control room from which the testers and product team can observe the action. The two rooms are separated by floor-to-ceiling one-way mirrors which provide an unobstructed view of the testing environment for observers.
Cameras arranged around the room and within the ceiling capture not only the customer interactions, but also their facial expressions while engaging with each product. Large LCD displays in the observation area allow product teams to zoom-in and easily see mobile device screens, or read text on a piece of paper the participant is holding.
Digital recording software captures on-screen activity, as well as mouse movements and keyboard input during sessions. Researchers and stakeholders can playback the video later, or compile highlight videos of important testing situations.
Another feature of the lab I like is that it has been designed to support digital equipment hot-swapping. Essentially, this means the room configuration can be quickly re-arranged to take advantage of different camera angles or support different testing scenarios, without shifting bulky equipment around. Relocating a PC is simply a matter of moving the screen and keyboard and plugging it into a different wall. The PC itself is hidden outside the lab.
Although the best experience of product testing is had by being in the environment, the facility also supports video streaming to any employee at any location in Australia. Providing they are on our network, team members can ‘tune in’ from Sydney, Brisbane, or overseas and see how their product is performing with customers.
Research design and analysis is provided by the User Experience Team who utilise a range of methods and metrics to provide structured, actionable feedback to product teams. For now, the labs are only available for internal Telstra projects and staff. Since opening, they’ve been running hot with up to fifty customers coming in to use and test products each week.