ATLANTIS: Conducting user research to drive the design process.
An international team from Austria, Sweden and Greece is working on the research project ATLANTIS to develop an innovative authoring tool.
User research is an important element of the design process for any kind of interactive system or product. So we asked Richard Whitehand, Senior Usability & UX Specialist at USABILITY PARTNERS (UP), to give us a short update on ATLANTIS from UP´s perspective.
18 January, 2022
What is Usability Partners role in the ATLANTIS project?
Usability Partners is the UX and usability research partner in the project. This means that we're responsible for ensuring that the project has a clear picture of the intended users and understands their needs in relation to the ATLANTIS room planning tool. Furthermore, one of our most important responsibilities is to conduct user testing of prototypes with users in order to support the UI design work and ensure that the final user interface is easy to use.
Why is user research important for the development of ATLANTIS?
User research is an important element of the design process for any kind of interactive system or product. In the case of ATLANTIS it is even more important as some of the technology in the tool, especially relating to augmented and diminished reality, typically hasn't been used by the target users previously and so knowledge around how people perceive and interact with this technology is quite limited.
Who are the users?
Broadly speaking there are two categories of users - professionals working with interior design (e.g. in furniture retail, home styling, etc.) and consumers wishing to improve their homes (e.g. people wishing to partially or completely reorganise and/or refurnish one or more rooms in their home).
What type of user research are you working with at the moment for ATLANTIS?
Currently we are conducting user tests of early versions of the ATLANTIS room planning app. We are inviting users to individually test out the app with real room planning/furnishing scenarios. These are being conducted in a 'test room' (a room set up as a combined living and dining room) in our usability test lab - see previous posting for more information about that.
What do users think of the ATLANTIS tool so far?
Participants in our users tests have been very positive to the tool and believe that it would be very helpful in creating more realistic room plans and being able to communicate these to others (e.g. for professionals to share plans with consumers and for consumers to be able to discuss their needs with retailers). There has been quite a lot of excitement around the tool, although also some significant challenges to be addressed around the fact that typical users don't realise or expect to be able to do certain things in it (especially to be able to 'remove'/'diminish' existing furniture in a scene) and thus not discovering that such functionality exists.
What is the next step for Usability Partners regarding user research for ATLANTIS?
Once the ATLANTIS app is fully integrated with backend services then we will be conducting more in-depth testing with users where we plan to conduct studies both under controlled conditions (in a 'test room') and then also in users' actual homes.
What interests you in particular about the ATLANTIS project?
The technology being used in the ATLANTIS project (especially VR, AR and DR) has a vast range of application areas and the project provides us both with a deeper understanding of these technologies and the user interface challenges with them, as well as valuable insights into how users perceive and interact with them.
Thank you for the interview!