The Usability Snowman Challenge

7th January 2010
Posted by in News and Announcements
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Well, we asked for some snow donations on Twitter and they came in in abundance! One day, there was not even a hint of frost and the next, we were ankle-deep in snow, working from home, but still managing to inject some Bunnyfoot fun into the day with a “usability snowman” competition across our UK offices (I hope Hong Kong don’t feel too left out!).

2 hours, some snow and a little imagination produced an outright winner from Oxford’s Usability Consultant, Nick Antram. Here’s his entry…

Here is an attempt at a usable snowman. We talked to local snowmen users and asked them what they really wanted out of their snowmen and the overwhelming response of the 2 people we spoke to was that snowmen needed to be not only big fat piles of snow that were funny to look at, but useful too!

Popular suggestions were:

  • To have a flashing light on the top so users could easily see the snowman in a snowstorm
  • Have a comfy seat to allow users to have a nice sit down after struggling through the snow
  • To have a nice cuppa tea (when is this not a popular suggestion?)

So we sketched some ideas (well ok, just one)…

Initial sketches of a usable snowman

Did some anthropometric analysis and fitting trials:

Scientific sketches to make sure the snowman chair is viable

Which gave us the 95th percentile of users.

Then we user tested it thoroughly in blizzard-like conditions **

And this is the result…

The Snowmatic Ergsnowchair!

Snowman Chair in its completed form

With some final user testing, we just knew it was perfect.

Nick’s quest to build an ergonomic chair in pictures

* Ergonomic principles may not have been used
** May not have been user tested thoroughly

  1. Anneli says:

    You do realize that using a snowman for a teacup holder might not be ideal as:
    1. The tea will get cold
    2 a. The hot teacup will melt the snowman
    2 b. The cup might fall over when the snowman melts

    As an experienced snowman maker (as I am from Sweden where we do get snow every now and then) I suggest to add some kind of insulation to either the teacup or to the part of the snowman where the teacup is to be placed. Or maybe that ice tea is served. I believe that this will add to the usability of the snowman.

  2. Rico says:

    As long as the chair is suitable for the 5th and 95th %ile…. I am happy. 🙂

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