Dave and Chris have previously blogged about the test-run with the Historical Society, which was largely unsuccessful due to a series of problems from the outset. Despite not being able to fully access the application (but having seen several demo’s on Chris’s computer), both Robin and Andrew seemed very enthusiastic about the potential for the application, which was really encouraging. Both seemed to grasp the concept and methods of navigation well, despite admitting to not being particularly computer literate or owning a mobile phone!
Shortly after (following some trouble-shooting) were the test runs with staff and Diploma students from college. The first was with Vicky, from the conservation unit. Having never used an iPhone before, she found the application fairly straightforward to navigate, although concern was expressed at the size of the buttons along the bottom of the main screen – there were a few occassions where the wrong menu was selected, and due to signal problems it often took a long time to return to the main screen.
A quick run-through outside Old College
Generally, this round of testing went without too many hitches. Remembering to turn 3G on makes a big difference. I’m not particularly iPhone savvy, so had to be instructed by Peter over the phone on how to switch it on – I’m not sure if it’s safe to assume that other iPhone users would know to (or how to) do this?
On the move….and walking through time!
Figuring it would be a popular route for future users (sightseers, students, historians etc.), we walked from Chamber Street to the bottom of the High Street. Although the maps loaded pretty quickly, Vicky found the naming and filing to be quite confusing and frustrating, and suggested that there should be an option to list all of the maps chronologically, rather than just by scale or name (i.e. ‘Edinburghshire’).
Vicky in the 18th century…
At the time of testing, the conservation students had a project site in Aitchison Close, so we paid a visit. It was really great to see Vicky get excited by selecting and tagging the different maps! She was really positive about the benefit the application could have on projects and site visits. Her only suggestion at this point was that perhaps it would be worthwhile considering photographs of former streetscapes and buildings (either through markers or as a seperate option in a chronological list similar to the maps). We discussed the concept of the markers a bit more – I thought perhaps this was where the answer could lie, but Vicky felt that it would be better to have the images already available rather than hoping that someone else had uploaded them (or having to track them down and upload them personally).
We walked back up the High Street towards Chamber Street, and hit a few minor glitches along the way – despite a full signal, on several occassions Vicky’s screen went white then sent her to the start-up screen to log in again. Thankfully this seemed to be shortlived! Before returning the iPhones to Peter and Petra we both created routes using the markers we had created. Again, this was something that Vicky was enthusiastic about – like the team, she felt that pre-existing routes laden with information (as well as the users ability to create their own) would be a valuable and interesting learning tool.
Later in the same week I went out and about with Feng, Klas (both students) and Ian. We walked from Chamber Street to the Castle Esplanade, then through some of the nearby closes where Ian knew there had been several radical changes.
Klas, Feng and Ian discussing their finds on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Again, the application ran smoothly, with the only draw back being the length of time it took to load some of the maps. This seemed to be largely due to the poor (or non-existent) signal we got in the closes and courtyards. It’s annoying that this hinders it so much, but even more annoying is the fact that it’s outwith our control.
Everyone was really excited about the application, especially Ian – we got an amazing commentary from him as we walked around, which gave a great insight into how adding all this information (via markers, routes etc) could greatly enrich the users experience of and interaction with the city.
Having already discussed the previous feedback from Vicky, Robin and Andrew, the group had little else to add, other than comments about the occassionally disappointing 3G signal. From the esplanade we walked back towards Nicolson Square before heading to Chamber Street (with no signal problems!). Klas (an M.Phil. student) is interested in the relationship between people and the city of Edinburgh, and was encouraged by the potential for the application as a research/design tool.
All in all, the application got a huge thumbs up from all who tested it, which was a great result for us.
Thanks to everybody for volunteering – your feedback has been much appreciated and greatly valued!