The Effects of Distraction on Usability Testing Results in a Laboratory Environment

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Thrift, Brady
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University of Guelph

Hand held device users encounter various forms of distraction in their daily lives. Distractions may prevent them from correctly using the hand held device. Usability evaluations are meant to identify issues prior to end-users experiencing them. However the laboratory environment, which usability evaluations are conducted, may not reflect the real-world conditions that devices are used. The experiment involved each participant performing tasks in both a quiet and a noisy environment. The noisy environment emulated part of a real-world experience by adding social noise in the background during the participant's tasks. The goal was to compare how much insight each participant was able to achieve from the data in each of the environments. It was found that task performance accuracy was higher in a quiet environment as opposed to the noisy environment. The mental demands and frustration of participants were found to be higher during the noisy environment evaluation.

Distraction, Field Test, Usability, Hand Held Device