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Lab Design Services

A lot of work goes into designing a usability lab that can fulfill today's needs while being flexible enough to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Ovo Studios has been designing usability labs for years, with our first labs still being used in a production environment running two to three tests a week.

Our lab design services are part of our turnkey fixed usability lab solution which includes installation, training, and a year of support.

If you already have a usability lab, you can benefit from Ovo Studios' technologies via a fixed lab retrofit. Our most common retrofits include:

We give our retrofitted systems as much attention as new construction and include deliverables and services like:

The remainder of this page is dedicated to answering questions that we are frequently asked during initial design meetings. Use this information to build your own lab or to guide your interactions with lab vendors. The information on this page is provided for informational purposes and it is without warranty. Use the information at your own risk.

How big should my lab be?

The sketch above shows a lab with generous room dimensions. If you have to reduce room dimensions, reduce them in this order:

*Try to keep the Observation Room as large as possible. This permits it to be used as a conference room, whiteboard design room, and multimedia room.

What is HVAC and why do I care about it?

HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is one of the most vexing aspects of building a usability lab. Many of us work in offices where the existing office space is often too hot or too cold. Further subdividing this space leads to incredible challenges for environmental control within the lab suite.

Often, usability labs are cold because thermostats are placed in control rooms where there is A/V equipment generating heat. The thermostat responds to a room that is atypically warm, resulting in less heat (or more cooling) being sent to the lab suite. This can result in the user room and the observation room feeling cold.

In a perfect world, every room would have its own thermostat because they each have a unique environment. The HVAC person you work with will most likely give you one thermostat for a three-room lab suite. If you value your users, put the thermostat in their room. You'll know how to dress appropriately for the control room environment and can instruct observers to dress appropriately.

What about one-way glass?

This topic has a variety of names: one-way glass, one-way mirrors, and silvered glass are just a few that come to mind. When you deal with glass vendors, they will know what you mean regardless of which of those terms you use. Here are recommendations for a one-way glass configuration that has worked well for me in the past.

How do I soundproof my lab?

Soundproofing is the most important aspect of a usability lab, but unless you take extraordinary construction efforts, you will not have a soundproof lab. We strive for a sound-resistant lab, in particular, we want the user room to exclude sound.

We don't want the user room to exclude all sound because that might be a little creepy for someone sitting in the user room. Noises from the air vent, conversational tones from the hallway, and a phone ringing in the office next door are all potentially acceptable ambient noises. Boisterous noises from the control room and observation room are never acceptable.

The best soundproofing tips are behavioral:

Methods of construction can also be used to make a lab more sound resistant: