Sunday 13 May 2018

Basingstoke Festival 5k Race 2018

It's that time of year again where I make the trip to Basingstoke to race through their shopping center as part of their annual 5k race.
It's a good time to do it, my foot is feeling much better and I'm back to doing weekly speed sessions along with upping my mileage on my Sunday long runs as I head towards 16 week till my marathon (!!!) and the mileage gets really silly.
This wasn't a PB (personal best) hunt, rather a race to keep my streak alive.  I've run at the Festival 5k for 6 years in a row now, since it started in 2013 and I'd like to keep that up for as long as I can.
Saying that, I can't complain with a time of 26:56.  Not my best time but not my worst either.
It was also a good reminder of what it feels like to race.  The nerves as we make our way there, wary of the slow Sunday morning drivers.  The visit to the loos.  The collection of my race number.  The second visit to the loos.  The nervous energy which makes me bouncy and ready to go.  Then everyone making their way to the start line and in amongst all the noise of the other racers as they chat and bounce and stretch, I feel at peace and ready.  This is a good feeling.  Then the horn blasts and we're off.  It's waiting for your Garmin to connect to GPS and then finding your way between the people around you. The sound of footfalls on marble echoing round you. The sound of your breathing in your ears.  The sound of the breathing of someone else coming up behind you and trying to stay in front.  The sound of cheering as you reach the finish line.
I know the marathon won't be as fast, for which I'm glad, but its a good reminder of what racing feels like.  Now I must start looking towards September and all the running that is needed to get me there.

Sunday 6 May 2018

Creating a Mobile Usability Lab

As a User Experience Designer I spend a lot of my time designing solutions to problems for websites.  So it was nice to a have a physical challenge at work for once.
I needed to run some user testing with customers to see if the new menus we have designed allow them to find what they are looking for on the website.  Testing on desktop is pretty easy but we needed to test the mobile design too.
Testing on mobile is a bit harder because even if you can record their screen you can't see where their finger is, or what they tap, as they work through the different screens.
The best way to see this is to get a camera to point down on the screen so you can see everything.
There are options you can buy, but they are very expensive and we were on a tight budget, and you can set it up so you sit the phone on a table and stand a camera over it but that's not how people really use a phone.

So I decided to make something.  My first iteration used bits and bobs off amazon.  It was actually a really good set up, but way too heavy meaning a participant wouldn't be able to use it, even for the 15 minute tests we were going to run. 
Having found an article from someone else doing something similar I started to look for plastic.  In the end the best deal was with Wickes and although it was a bit too big, it does mean I can make more as we improve the design.

I cut a piece 6cm wide and 30cm long and 'im outdoors drilled a hole in the top for me - this gave us a way to attach the webcam, and then used his heat gun to help me bend it.
The first one we made wobbled a bit as the webcam was a bit heavy, but we added another strip of plastic to strengthen it and it seems much better now.
We used it last week and it worked really well.  It helped us to see where there are some issues with our current design which means we can fix them before we set it live. 
I love how creative I get to be at work and so nearly 3 years since I quit my regular job I have to say I really have no regrets over changing roles!