Guerrilla User testing “Tele-Panchayat” phone

January - 7 - 2013

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We took the “Tele-Panchayat” phone out into the streets of Pune last week for a quick video prototype and were lucky enough to find people who were happy to give the prototype a test.

Although we had not planned any questions etc. beforehand, we ran with it as we knew it would give us some insights on both system level issues of the phone as well as nuts and bolts usability issues. The location/context was a local roadside tea-stall stall in the Bibwewadi area. We edited it down into a little video below (reflections in text later):

In all, 10 people tried the prototype out and we went through all the unedited footage to recap some of the observations to draw out some insights and issues below:

Usability issues to be tackled:

With respect to the thumbprint scanning interactions there seem to be mixed results. On the one hand, we would say that despite it being a non-standard thumbprint scanner, people on the whole understood what they had to do. On the other hand, some issues for further consideration were:

  • Some people were not pressing it down long enough
  • Some people were waiting too long with it pressed, despite the LCD indicating it had been verified.
  • A couple of people seemed unsure as to where to press or about pressing their thumb on the machine in general. This could was possibly because of the location of the scanner on the phone, the height of the phone itself , height of the person etc.

System level observations:

  • One user was unsure as to whether he was voting for his hometown (where their house was) or for the area where the phone was currently installed.
  • Questions were raised about whether people could input their own questions.
  • One respondent tried to influence the vote of another.

Overall reflections:

  • Being in public space, we noticed that the question asked in the phone (whether water meters should be installed in local homes) generated a good deal of discussion. This was encouraging as the concept of giving feedback on such issues did not seem unusual or the context of the interaction in the tea-shop also didn’t seem “unofficial”.
  • Being in public space, however, does raise the issue of whether influencing of a vote is possible. This raises the question as to whether this is really a problem when voting on local issues rather than for parties/representatives?
  • Who asks the questions and who decides what they should be is one of the issues we need to address. Is it a citizen run initiative (maybe run by advanced locality management (ALM) of a ward)? Is it to be deployed by municipal corporator/Nagarsevaks?
  • How should the results be displayed? Should it be instantly displayed on the phone? Should it be installed in public space? Or should it only be displayed at the end of the voting period?
  • Should there be a “cancel” option at the end in case a user wants to change/not register his vote?
  • In further tests, we will have to be more in the “background” – so that we do not need to guide users interactions with the device.


Zubin Pastakia

Zubin is an interaction designer working in Mumbai.

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