Mr. Tappy is a tool for professionals, to be used in a research, business or design context.

If you’ve got the time and ability and don’t mind flapping about making your own, then you’re not alone – plenty of people including myself have built DIY mobile device usability test rigs.

In many cases, a bent ruler with a webcam bolted on will probably do the trick.

Here’s a ‘How to make your own Mobile UX recording rig‘ article on Harry Brignull’s excellent blog.

Others can be found by doing a search for ‘mobile usability rig’ or some people call it a ‘sled’.

If you are testing on multiple size devices, say smartphone and tablet, you’ll probably need a separate rig for each size device.

You can see lots of examples on the ‘Mr. Tappy Story’ page.

…But DIY isn’t the only Mr. Tappy alternative…

Static camera on the desk

Some people use a camera set up above a tabletop marked with an ‘in shot’ region.
 We’ve tried this with a webcam on the end of a microphone boom.

Technically, you can film their interaction, but the user has to keep the device in a certain area on the desk – This restriction on movement makes for an un-natural experience.

We’ve found users get lazy, leaving the device on the table rather than picking it up.
It doesn’t seem right if you need to remind people to use the device in the way they usually do.

Over the shoulder

This works well as an ‘eavesdropper’ point of view but it’s hard to get close enough to the action. People sit in different positions, hold the device close or far, rest the tablet or hold it up.

This means the action drifts in and out of shot… whereas with Mr.Tappy, you’re locked on the money.

Head mounted camera

I’ve never seen this done in person but hear when the user has a camera mounted on their head it results in sea sickness for the viewer as the person wearing the camera moves their head around.

Also, if the person wearing the camera is being interviewed and directs their answer at the interviewer, the interviewer becomes the subject of the footage. Weird, weird and more weird.

A recording App on the device itself

There are several screen recording apps you can run on mobile devices which will record the screen, sometimes using the ‘face pointing’ camera too, and sometimes putting a little dot onto the screen showing where people tapped.

There would be times when these would be just what the doctor ordered – however – in my <biased, but experienced> viewpoint…

Mr. Tappy has three BIG advantages over these.

  1. It works on any device. Regardless of operating system.
  2. There is no install. Nothing.
  3. … and this is the big one… You can see the user’s hand.

The ones I’ve heard of are:
Lookback, Reflector, UX recorder and Viewport



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