USI Final Project by Dirk van de Mortel. Draft report: [PDF, 500K]
WebLabs is the project name for a new, web-based platform for gathering user feedback. During most, if not all phases in the (iterative) design cycle, representative users and/or clients can be involved and leave feedback/input as part of User-Centered Design (UCD) process. This feedback is valuable for an evaluator (e.g. HCI expert), who then compiles yielded information and implements severe parts, by rendering them in the development of the product or service. Executing usability tests by means of a User Evaluation Method (UEM) as part of UCD is a well-known method. Other usability methods are e.g. contextual interviews, focus groups, heuristic evaluation, interviews, personas, task analysis etc that all might be applicable as feedback system on the web.
However, until now little information is known on how laboratory testing compares to remote testing, concerning Philips Research applications (i.e. multimedia applications for consumer electronics). Important advantages of remote testing are A. Time and space independence (asynchrone) B. Relatively low cost for a worldwide (and cultural diffused) audience/participants and C. Automation of results. Important disadvantages are I) No control after publication or invitation of users II) Applies on the imagination of participants when a situation is simulated/mimicked III) Requires special preparation (low fidelity prototypes become digital or hybrid: send by post and evaluated with Web applications).