Currently I’m studying in Finland and courses I attend here are completely different than that at my home university. One course I passed was Usability Engineering. It is dealing with ease of use product (in our case software), learnability, efficiency, effectivity, accesibility and so on. It’s rather objective metric than more subjective UX. This area is not so much of my cup of tea, but it was interesting to see how proper usability evaluation and usability testing especially.

We had some lectures using Handbook of Usability Testing, but it was not so interesting to write here about it. What was interesting and fun was that we conduct our usability testing on product of our choice. We choose Google Slides tool, part of Google Drive, that serves to create presentation in collaboration with colleagues, that are easily accessible everywhere.

Evaluation plan

Our target group was students at university (yes it was easiest to get participants, but still it fits pretty good ;-) ), who are working on some presentation few times a year for some school project. We wanted to study learnability of this tool, because it should be immediately obvious how to work with Slides. We also focused on cooperation because we wanted to know if users will get distracted by other users working on presentation or it will be productive for all of them.


We asked our 4 (not much but we had enough data to analyze) participants some questions about their computer experiences focused on presentations. They were not studying computer science. Of course they all always worked with Microsoft Office Powerpoint, but never too much as would you expect of this kind of participants. Not too much experience with cloud and no experience with this kind of cooperation.

The test was conducted in lecture room on our laptops with recorded screen and sound. At first we wanted of them to do some basic presentation operation (add picture, add table, change layout/theme). Second scenario was about independent work on simple presentation about Finlad, this time with cooperation.

First surprise that was revealed by our testing was that what we thought will last at most 30 minutes lasted for 50-60 minutes. Well these things happens and we thought that it will last a little longer than when one of us was doing that. But twice longer? We immediately learned that we are really more able to work with computer than others.


We observed our users during their work real-time, we had questionnaires and of course recordings of screen and voice. We went through those data and found that most problem was with inserting images, that things are (surprisingly) at different places than in Powerpoint. Cooperation was evaluated pretty well, all users liked this, because it is essential in groupwork. From all these qualitative and quantitative data we extracted our usability recommendations on Slides:

This was main cause of participants’ confusion. Not everyone knows what “URL” mean.

Create automatically table from the formated text (separators, newlines)

This was maybe little artificial but we gave our user text in lines separated by colon and asked them to create table. All of them selected whole text and clicked to create table. They expected that table should be created automatically. All of them! I don’t know how often this happens, but it’s not so hard to program there this thing.

Hightlight chat when other user start editing presentation.

I thought that incoming user and chat is visible enought but our participants had problem to find it.

Offer also voice communication tool (Google Hangouts?)

Users writes a lot now already and chat only slows them down. Some Google Hangouts integration would be awesome.

Ask for the name of a new file immediately after creation

  • “I created presentation.”

  • “I can’t see it.”

  • “But why??? Hmm maybe I should name it somehow but I can’t see where it is.”

Maybe it would be disturbing element to have modal window poped up immediately after creation of presentation, but it would help with people sharing this presentation. At least in our testing.


We learned how to conduct usability testing on real users and discover some new features and problems in Google Slide tool. And our participants had some benefit of this testing too: they used Slides in their upcomming presentation.