Last Wednesday I was setting up a usability test environment for a new website. Somebody commented on the computer monitor – “It’s fuzzy” – and proceeded to try and adjust the monitor settings.

But, as I pointed out, the target market for the website is students. Our field research has shown that a fair percentage of students are using older computer systems, with crappy monitors and some (shockingly) are still using 28k modems.

So in this case the fuzzy monitor was just perfect – it was a real world environment.

Then, I read today in a BBC report that a “TV glitch mars Xbox 360 Kong game” – simply because the game designers at Ubisoft “used certain settings on high-definition TV screens”.

The obvious questions are:

  • Did the Ubisoft designers even bother to test (or even look at) the game within an actual user environment?
  • Did they do any type of usability (or in this case ‘viewability’) testing at all?

Even back in the early 90s (when I worked in a television editing suite), we would have a range of monitors – including several of the expensive high-definition Sony Trinitrons – and off to the far right – a cheap domestic 14-inch television set.

It’s a basic requirement of any designer’s toolkit for screen-based media – and in this case Ubisoft have no excuse. It’s the King Kong of stuff-ups.