# Field Test
In a field test, the interactive application is evaluated in the real context of use.
The special feature of a field test is that it takes place in the real context of use. Accordingly, this takes place at the user's workplace, e.g. with application software. In contrast to a test in the laboratory, there are no predefined tasks, but the user tests the application on the basis of his work tasks while being observed. Additionally, a questionnaire can be used.
A field test provides empirically proven problems with the use of the interactive system.
In a field test, careful planning is crucial. As with heuristic evaluation, the part of the interactive system to be examined must be selected. In addition, representative test persons from the user group must be selected and an appointment made. A schedule for the test must be prepared. Also, questionnaires are often used to collect sociodemographic data, previous experience with the system or to measure usability/user experience. Ideally, the UX expert himself should not act as the moderator of a field test in order to avoid any influence. The documentation of the field test must also be defined in advance. The preparation of a field test also includes a pre-test to check the test procedure and the test tasks.
The test itself runs as follows: After the test subject has been welcomed and briefed by the test moderator, the participant is asked to work with the interactive system. Usually, the participant should comment out loud about what he is doing ("Loud thinking"). During the test, the moderator ensures that the participant continues to think aloud and asks in case the participant's behaviour is not comprehensible. The field test is either documented on video or documented by an observer using an observation sheet.
After the field test, the recordings and, if applicable, the questionnaire must be evaluated and prepared for documentation.
# Tools and templates
- For documentation: observation sheet and photo/video camera or sound recording device
- Questionnaire (if applicable)
In contrast to a laboratory study, the subjects in a field test cannot be influenced by the laboratory environment. The test situation is close to the usage context and therefore influencing factors from the real working environment can be included in the test. A field test ensures that difficulties in interaction under real conditions in the real usage context are identified and that these are relevant usage problems.
The effort involved in a field test is very high, both during preparation and evaluation. In addition, the results can be influenced by the experiment leader or the observer and the participants can show a desired rather than an actual behaviour. Often, a field test only makes sense with a mature prototype. In this case, the effort to solve interaction problems is high due to the advanced development.
- Dumas, J.S., Redish, J.C. (1999) A practical guide to usability testing Intellect Ltd.
- Methodenhandbuch des Kompetenzzentrum Usability Mittelstand