Mar 23, 2021

Halftone Digital measures and improves usability with Maze Reports

Learn how design agency, Halftone Digital, brought rapid testing into their workflow to deliver high-quality products ahead of development for their clients.

Digital product design agency, Halftone Digital believes in doing good, being unconventional, and growing with each challenge. Co-founder, Mike Arney, and his team are ingrained as a contract agency for firms like Adobe and Medtronic. Their mission to maintain their creativity and serve their clients and community the best they can has meant exploring different methods of idea and concept validation and usability testing.

“What’s unique about Halftone is that we’re very product-focused which means we don’t just aim to deliver a package of goods. It’s more of an ongoing partnership,” Mike explains. With this approach, there are times where the team has to think about how they get the products they’re designing to market, which is where user testing comes in.

Mike and his team understand the value of testing but due to the nature of agency work, it’s more on an as-needed basis. “Our user testing goal is to create as refined of a product as we possibly can before it goes to the developers. To best iterate on designs, I want to put rounds of designs in front of people who have never seen them before, so that I can get the best possible objective feedback. My consistent personal goal from a design standpoint is to make sure the quality is truly there.”

When we want to see how users react to a specific feature, then that’s exactly where Maze comes in and is perfect.

Mike Arney, Co-founder of Halftone Digital

Challenges in the user testing market

Before finding Maze, Halftone was exploring a number of different methods to get their designs in front of users. From guerilla testing, running coffee shop and hallway usability tests, where they’d present users with everything from early paper wireframes to InVision prototypes and taking notes in Google Docs to document their analysis.

Covid-19 changed the way they had to work with users. Now needing to explore remote options, the team wanted to find a solution that was easy in terms of convenience and that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Mike had explored other solutions on the market that ended up being too expensive and inefficient to fit into their process.

We couldn't do testing in person, and it made sense to go forward with Maze because it was the best way for us to quickly receive feedback and test our designs to ultimately get the app or product out the door.

Mike Arney, Co-founder of Halftone Digital

"In Maze, I feel like we found a tool that lives up to what we need to do.”

“Since we settled on Maze, I'm much more likely to engage in more testing down the road and recommend it to others, including our clients.” Mike has plans to demo and share the value of Maze with some of his clients in lunch and learn sessions as Maze will continue to be front of mind for their upcoming products.

Measuring success with Maze Reports

Initially, the Halftone team was drawn to Maze when they learned how easy it was to recruit testers through purchasing Maze Credits for specific demographics. As time went on, the team began to rely on Maze Reports to provide visual insights into their results.

Other tools on the market didn’t seem to offer the same level of insights, broken down into the details and metrics we wanted. Whereas the reporting in Maze is really good, it’s very easy to show to someone and quickly get insights.”

Mike Arney, Co-founder of Halftone Digital

For each user testing project carried out, a Maze Report is generated which includes a usability score. Mike and the team believe this score is a simple and powerful way to communicate product success and progress, making it an important metric to share with the client from a high-level perspective.

“It was important for me to show a client that the Maze usability score was going up. This is because I knew stakeholders weren't going to get down into the details of the report, they were going to look up the synopsis. Through using this metric over the course of the project, we were able to show our score went from 72 to 90—so our client was really happy.”

For example, the team wanted to understand how a user was interpreting an icon, how a heart icon performed versus a star, then looking at which one drove up usability more. With Maze, they were able to determine the best design decision and found that the star icon worked better in that case.

If we were to go to other tools in the market, it would cost too much and take too much time. Our goal, particularly being in an agency environment, is to produce quick and fast results that provide a solution to our problem.

Mike Arney, Co-founder of Halftone Digital

Since using Maze, Halftone Digital is able to make educated user testing recommendations based on client budgets and time as they get results so fast. “Maze has surpassed my bar of quality, allowing us to integrate it into our workflow easily, and recommend it to others.”

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