The ultimate user test?

December 4, 2007 at 7:09 am Leave a comment

The new Terminal Five at Heathrow Aiport, London – which had quite a controversial birth – is going to undertake an unusual experience in “testing” there facilities before public launch. As I’ve written about before, the aspect of evaluation prior to the launch of a project or activity is often overlooked – and this is an extreme example of this principle in action.

Terminal Five is seeking 15,000 volunteers to act as test users of their new facilities. They will ask volunteers to act as “real” passengers and go through the steps of checking in just to stepping on to the aircraft. I find it fascinating that they will “test” their facilities in such a large-scale manner. Always recommended is “field testing” of new products and services – but this is going quite far. Of course, the question begs, what happens if the user testing brings up major issues with the terminal?  Well, Terminal Five lists the following as their aim:

“What are we trying to achieve?: Proof that Terminal 5 is safe, secure and works like clockwork. We’ll also ensure the team who will be running the terminal get the chance to test and develop their service. We also need to identify anything we need to fix prior to opening”

So let’s see what such a trial will bring – how big will the “fixes” be – or will all work like clockwork? Regardless, I am sure they will receive interesting feedback and discover, as I have in usability testing,  that people view and use products or facilities in ways totally unanticipated.  Do you want to volunteer? Read more here>>


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