Saturday, 23 July 2011

Interactive media testing - what type?

As the interactive sector grows new interactive market segments emerge. Many are adjuncts to traditional media that are used in interactive ways – so we get interactive social video on Facebook and YouTube sites, for example. We get interactive ways to audition and buy audio and video downloads using applications like iTunes. We get interactive retail of 'real' goods through sites like eBay and Amazon. Because interactive media is now able to command contact with so many of the public because of the plethora of interactive channels available, the push to match the interactivity with the particular market segment needs becomes important. This means testing out various aspects of the interactivity from concept to performance in use.

Take a look at the range of research that can be (and is) utilised by the larger players at Interactive Media Research and learn what will be expected by the medium and smaller players in the interactive market in time. They quote User and Market evaluation, Concept and content testing, website usability, user profiling, brand evaluation, and Ad and sponsorship tracking, as what they offer. All these mean assessment in some form. Remember the difference between evaluation and testing is that evaluation has a broader remit to assess the development, delivery and reaction to the interactive offering; whereas testing means pre-defining criteria of assessment and then testing to check the performance of an application. Testing is part of evaluation methods.

The Human Factors Test Centre (HFTC) at Fraunhofer takes a slightly different approach, citing their offerings as Usability Tests, Expert evaluation, Accessibility Tests, Design studies, User Requirements analysis, and market research.

Maybe it is time to evaluate your own company's approach to testing? We would have to add many options to our Testing section in our Scoping Questionnaire now instead of just listing 5 common options and then adding the 'other' category as a catch-all. Remember to decide whether you'd do these as in-house tests or contract out to specialists when working out the budget for your clients. Have your clients started demanding such wider ranging testing yet? They will. Are you ready?

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