Thesis: User Testing Results

In my previous post, I talked about my first round of User Testing. Well, as most things are, it was surprising. Here's the scoop.

I was pretty down most of yesterday, because, after pestering my 'users' several times, I still didn't have too many responses. Even my best friend didn't participate, and she loves music. So I began to think my idea needed to be changed drastically.


After a few more responses, I ended up with 5 respondents:

Sarah Hallacher, a student at ITP as well, lives in Brooklyn, 27, made a linear mix that gave specific directions that led the user from her place in Brooklyn to the L train to Manhattan. She overlayed her own design onto a Google Map.


If I were making a location-based mix, I'd want to incorporate notes about some of the things I experienced while listening/walking. I'd probably give it to the person digitally so they could follow a list of instructions on their phone while walking.

My mix is called checkmarksthespot because when I made the map I realized the shape of my commute is a backwards checkmark.

  1. Plug in your headphones by the time you hit Meeker Ave.
  2. Fully intend to listen to something else besides 'Ho Hey' by The Lumineers
  3. Listen to 'Ho Hey' by The Lumineers
  4. Intend to change the song.
  5. Listen to 'Ho Hey' by The Lumineers
  6. Midway through, queue up 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence + The Machine
  7. Listen to 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence + The Machine
  8. Listen to 'Addicted to Love' by Florence + The Machine
  9. 1 minute in, enter the L train at Graham Avenue
  10. Stop the song around 30 seconds before it's over. You have lost cell service and didn't make this Spotify playlist available offline.
  11. Listen to 'The Funeral' by Band of Horses
  12. Sway hypnotically to the song and get odd looks from fellow commuters

Elena Parker, a student at ITP as well, lives in Brooklyn, 26(?), made a linear mix that gave specific directions that led the user into Prospect Park to relax. She sent a Google Map tied to a Spotify playlist.


Tracks are here

Spots are numbered. If i had some more time in my existence, I'd send the tracks with a nice design or etc.

1) Movement and Location
Get off the train at the Bergen Street 2-3 shop and start walking down flatbush. 
Listen to The Punch Brothers' "Movement and Location."
2) Rattling Locks
Head into the park. Make sure you go right and stay on the paths. It should be pretty dark because there's lots of trees blocking the sun. 
Listen to Josh Ritter's "Rattling Locks."
3) Old Country Fairytale
There's a cemetery in this vicinity. Check it out. Then proceed to lookout hill, which is to the right on this map. Climb up. Look out. 
Listen to Mark O'Connor, Yo Yo Ma and and Edgar Meyer play Old Country Fairytale.
4) Don't Look Back
After you've made it down from Lookout Hill, walk back towards the entrance straight through the center of the park. It should open up a lot. People will be flying kites. 
Listen to "Don't Look Back" by She & Him.
5) Just in Time
Lay down on the grass in the Long Meadow. It's a long walk. 
Listen to Nina Simone's "Just in Time" from the Tomato Collection. 

Nicole Puritsky, an Account Director, lives in Chicago, 31, made a mix that spans two locations— Chicago and L.A., where she is from, that follows the user as they travel (on the ground) from Chicago, and subsequently arrive in LA. She used a service called 'ZeeMaps' to make the map, and embedded YouTube videos as audio within each marker.


1) South California Purples, Chicago
2) Goin' Back to Cali, LL Cool J
3) California (Here we come), Phantom Planet
4) Why you'd want to live here, Death Cab for Cutie
5) I Love LA, Randy Newman
6) Valley Girl, Frank Zappa
7) Home, Sheryl Crow
Map found here

Katherine Walker, an Elementary School Teacher, lives in Ruston, Louisiana, 28, made a mix that is somewhat linear, but not a direct path. The most exciting thing about her mix? She dedicated it to her first child, who she is having in August. I didn't know she was pregnant, so it was a really nice surprise dedication. She used Google Maps to identify the songs and locations.


1) Courtesy Chevrolet: "Drive My Car" by The Beatles
2) Jamy Lane: "Speak Easy" by Maria Taylor
3) Christ Community Church (now The Bridge): "My Girl" by Otis Redding
4) Wedgewood Drive: "By Your Side" by CocoRosie
5) Wedgewood Nursery: "Home" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Guess What?! The audience for this mix tape is Baby Walker, due August 1

Christie Leece, a student at ITP as well, lives in Brooklyn, 32(?), made a physical mix in custom 'wrapping', with custom title cards for each track. Not tied to a physical map, Christie's mix instead is a map of breakfast.


Hot Knife, Fiona Apple
Vaseline, Flaming Lips
Peaches and Cream, Beck
Chug-a-lug, Roger Miller
Starfish & Coffee, Prince
Hot Grits!, Elisah and the Ebonites
Milk and Cereal, G Love and the Special Sauce
Grits Ain't Groceries, Little Milton
Strawberry Letter 23, Brothers Johnson
Black Coffee in Bed, Squeeze


So, despite having a bit of anxiety about the testing, I think I ended up with some interesting findings. Here's a short rundown of the things I'm pondering/exploring/etc. and will hopefully clear up in a follow-up questionnaire:

  1. My participants were only female. In fact, two males wrote back and said they had a really hard time with the location-based thing, and didn't have anyone in particular to make a mix for (they aren't in relationships), so they declined to participate. Is this a coincidence? Is my audience women only?
  2. Linear, Loosely-Linear, and Completely Abstract. Where is the happy medium?
  3. Directions! There were quite detailed directions for a couple of these mixes, and it seems to be an important way for the mix-maker to communicate 'the moment'. How do I incorporate?
  4. Lots of literal songs (Going back to Cali, Drive my Car at a Car Dealership, etc.). Is this important? Is there a way to contextualize songs that aren't necessarily so literal? When people make mixes, where do they start? What part do the lyrics play in helping them associate a location with a song?
  5. Dedication mixes. Though that was a pretty special situation that Katherine shared with me, I think there's something really compelling to keeping a 'mix diary' for someone.