Capstone User Testing

User-testing is an important step when designing an app, website, or animation. You want to learn whether or not your target audience understands what you are trying to communicate. This process allows us to become more aware of what elements in our design are working and which ones need improving.

My capstone aka Mindful Monsters (yes, I came up with a name) is targeting children around ages 3 and 4. Due to Covid, I had to look for my target audience within my family, school faculty, and friends.

David

My first user tester was my little cousin named David. He is 8 years old. Although he is outside my target audience’s age range, I believed he fit the kind of personality I was targeting; a child who is kind, playful, and creative. At this time in my project, I only had half of the storyline animated. I thought this would make the story hard to understand but David understood everything. He really enjoyed how the characters look and wanted to watch me animate more of the story. He enjoyed looking at the made-up names I gave the characters. He helped confirm my belief that kids enjoy silly names that are fun to say. I asked David if he would watch more stories with these characters and he said he definitely would.

Harper

For my next user-testing, I had the pleasure of meeting my teacher’s son Harper, a sweet and timid 3 year old boy. I learned that his favorite show to watch was Mickey And The Roadster Racers and his favorite color is red. Harper also likes using the apps Khan Academy Kids and Montessori Preschool. As he was watching my animation, I could tell he taking the time to look at all the visuals and figure out the storyline. I remember him laughing when the main character started dancing on the screen. I asked him questions that related to the plot along with stopping the animation at certain parts and asking Harper what is Grape (the main character) feeling? I wanted to know whether I was illustrating emotions effectively. My animations are really driven by emotion so it was important whether kids picked up on what the characters were feeling.

Harper understood the main problem faced in the story but had trouble understanding the what Grape was doing in some of the scenes. For example, there is a scene where Grape is supposed to be mowing the lawn. The shot is cropped to only see Grape pushing something and then grass flying in the air. When I asked Harper what he was doing, he smiled and lowered his head. Even when his father asked him if Grape was mowing the lawn, Harper shook his head no. This meant that I was not making the scene clear enough for little kids to understand. I now know I need that a wider shot so that kids can see the lawn mower trimming the grass. I asked Harper if he would watch more stories with Grape and he smiled and said yes. I also asked him if he would want to wear a shirt with Grape on it. Both Jon (Harper’s father) and I could tell he liked that idea.

Beau

My final user tester was my four-year-old cousin, Beau. Although Beau is only four, he really enjoys watching more complex storlines. He loves superheroes, transformers, and dinosuars. He is a silly kid filled with energy and imagination. During his user-testing, it was hard to get him to pay attention. With the help of my Aunt, we were able to calm him down and get him to watch the animated short.

I could tell by his facial expressions that he was confused by the style of the illustrations. It was a little too cartoonish for his taste. However, he did laugh at scenes he thought were funny and gasp at when something sad happened. At one point of the story, Beau shouted “Oh no! That guy stole her kite!”. This made me happy that not only did he understand what was happening but he was empathizing with the characters. I asked him the same questions as Harper showing him different scenes and asking what Grape was feeling. Beau was quick to understanding Grape’s emotions. Along with Harper, Beau did not understand Grape was mowing the lawn. This confirmed the fact that the scene was confusing and needed to be fixed.

I asked Beau if he would watch more of these and he was a little skeptical. It was funny watching him think about whether he enjoyed the story. Though Beau was in my target audience’s age range, he wasn’t the kind of personality I was targeting. Beau is very into action stories and lacked the patience and or curiousity to watch an animated short like mine. That is okay with me. What was important is that he understood the plot and did enjoy some moments in the short.

In conclusion..

I believe my user testing went well! I gained insight on what kind of concepts 3 and 4 years understand. All three user test subjects were engaged while watching the animations. I would have ideally wanted to get a girl’s perspective as well and analyze what it is tht girls like about the short versus boys. However, I do think that the feedback David, Harper, and Beau gave me will help make my animation become clearer and more entertaining.

I can’t wait to get started on my edits!

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