How to Build a Usability Lab – Part 1

This is the first in a series of ongoing blog posts aimed at giving you a blow-by-blow account of our upcoming move to our new offices, and the ensuing adventure of building out our new state-of-the-art usability labs.

We at Usability Sciences are in the process of moving to a new office building and a ton of work is going on to make it a successful effort. We thought it would be great to share with you our experiences related to building out our new usability labs, as well as a focus group facility.

Background

We have been at our current facility since 1999 and have expanded twice during that time, building out our usability labs, client rooms and offices each time to our current 17,000 sq. ft. space. We have been perfectly happy here but feel the time has come to move to a new office space with state-of-the art technology and upgraded interiors. The new building we have scoped out is in Las Colinas, the main business district of Irving, TX, and is located close to a new DART Light Rail Station, making getting to downtown Dallas or the DFW Airport a cinch. Our new offices will take up  the entire 19,000 sq. ft. of the 16th floor.

Goals

When thinking about building out the new facility, we focused on these primary goals:

  1. Keep the labs, focus group and client areas separate from our employee offices.
  2. Build out four state-of-the-art usability labs to accommodate all the various usability testing methodologies that we do.
  3. Improve our audio/visual setup for all labs and client areas.
  4. Build out one fully-equipped focus group room.
  5. Provide our clients, who come to watch and participate in running our studies, spacious work areas and a better working environment.

Separating Labs and Client Areas from Employee Offices

Shown below is the almost complete floor plan, with the labs, client rooms and focus group facility outlined in red.

Key Items in the Floor Plan:

  1. Four usability testing labs of varying sizes. Some have large user rooms for conducting tests related to kiosks, gaming, and product package scenarios. Some of the labs have smaller user rooms with larger control rooms for situations where 3-4 clients would like to be in the control room.
  2. A very large focus group room with attached control room.
  3. Three client observation rooms. The focus group room doubles as a fourth observation room.
  4.  A separate user waiting-room, centrally located within easy access to all labs.
  5. Large, well-equipped client kitchen.
  6. Client phone room off of the kitchen.
  7. All access to employee offices controlled via keyed doors.

In future posts, we will cover in more detail how we plan to achieve the goals laid out above, and also provide updates as we go through the bidding and build-out process, and the final acceptance of our new space.

We would love to hear from you about any experiences or insights you may have had with building out a usability lab. Please share with us your own adventures!

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2 comments on “How to Build a Usability Lab – Part 1

  1. […] the floor plan included in the first part of this post showed, of the four usability labs with the paired control/user rooms, three share a wall with one […]

  2. […] the floor plan included in the first part of this post showed, of the four usability labs with the paired control/user rooms, three share a wall with one […]

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