Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Downtown Tacoma User Research Lab

GearLab, in partnership with digital agency SiteCrafting, Inc., has opened a user research and usability testing lab in Tacoma’s Dome District. The lab is the first of its kind in Pierce County.

GearLab, which stands for Guided Experience and Research, is a user research and usability testing lab outfitted with tools for testing how users interact with technology, including software for eye tracking, a mobile suite for testing across devices and platforms, and an observation room. GearLab’s focus on design thinking and user-centered design is part of an emerging industry trend centered around creating websites, software, and products that are designed, through research and evaluation, to be more efficient and effective for users.

Through a series of facilitated research and testing methods, GearLab enables companies to plan, test, and improve the designs of websites, software interfaces, and products. GearLab works on a variety of project types ranging from companies with in-house development teams looking to improve their own projects, government agencies needing to balance a wide range of audiences, to any business looking to improve their website interface through testing and research. Through a partnership with UW Tacoma, access to the lab will also be provided to students for conducting studies. Additionally, GearLab hopes to expand local partnerships for lab rentals to include other organizations and User Experience professionals.

GearLab Director, Chuck Johnston, is part of the Human Centered Design and Engineering Masters program at the University of Washington. As one of the only programs of its kind, graduates come away with a deep focus on creating solutions designed for real people with the things we use everyday. “Putting people first produces the best outcomes not only for technology and products, but also for entire organizations,” says Johnston.

The GearLab facilities include the lab itself for conducting usability tests and research, an observation room for learning and analysis, and a nearly 1,000 square-foot training room for workshops, sketching exercises, and other working sessions. GearLab is housed within SiteCrafting’s recently renovated office space in the Bowstring Building at 2716 A Street in downtown Tacoma.

While the two businesses share office space and collaborate on mutual projects, GearLab has its own client base that operates independent from SiteCrafting. GearLab is available for on-site testing as well as field testing.

GearLab will be open for demos during SiteCrafting’s open house for clients, partners, and the community on June 3, 2015 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit HERE to attend.

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