Mr Tappy

Mr Tappy: review of a mobile device usability test recording sled

Mr Tappy is a highly extensible recording sled for mobile devices that can be used to capture your users as they interact naturally with devices, sites and software.

In my opinion Mr Tappy is the best multipurpose sled for filming usability testing, UX and human behaviour research that I’ve encountered. However there are some things to consider if you want to get the best results from the rig.

Where Mr Tappy excels

  • Modular design — enables highly flexible testing configurations and scenarios
  • Device agnostic — works with any device, is future proof
  • Low vibration — stiff frame reduces flex and blur in video feed
  • Professional aesthetic — looks the business, not like a hack
  • Portable — very easy to transport once collapsed
  • No tool assembly
  • ‘Borrowability’ — mine is frequently stolen (!) borrowed by other teams
  • Customer service — my early edition Mr Tappy developed a fault with its hinges. Nick from Mr Tappy quickly replaced the jig with his newer, lighter, weight design incredibly quickly and was a pleasure to work with.

Things to consider

  • Cost — can seem expensive for small teams / those with limited budget
  • Delivery time — ~5day lead time (ships from NZ, not the UK nor EU)
  • Weight, Balance — rewards use of a small camera; a possible additional expense
  • Wireless camera — for cable free, portable, and natural use cases. I use a wireless Veho MUVI Micro
  • Hinge adjustments — can occasionally need to tighten, tune the hinge joints during a session

Alternatives and competitor products

The main alternative is to make your own usability testing camera mount system which can be cheap and fun, but definitely has limitations.

The principal competitor is the Mobile Device Camera by behaviour research company Noldus. This looks like an interesting design because it appears to be lighter weight (although none is listed) and its two parallel arm construction might reduce vibration in the video feed further.

Let me know in the comments if you are aware of any other camera rigs.

Mr Tappy Reviews elsewhere

Inclusive step-free access

Step-free access on the tube

Nice example of functional requirements engineering and standardisation on a project that marries legacy infrastructure (the platform height, distance) with a new bespoke build (the new TfL S Stock trains). A usable, inclusive and delightful experience; someone, somewhere, did their job right.

Next stop: throwing technology, like gap fillers, at the “Mind the Gap” interaction kludge =).

The Researcher is Present

The Inner Judge by Tom Grillo
The Inner Judge by Tom Grillo

A nice graphic from a New York Times article — An Appeal to Our Inner Judge — about the innate ability of our unconscious mind to create bias, assumptions and profiling; particularly as applied to people.

Identifying and factoring for inherent prejudice is essential in many aspects of user experience work; perhaps when recruiting new team members, meeting new clients but especially when working with research participants.

I also like how this graphic illustrates how many cognitive activities, conscious or otherwise, are undertaken by a researcher as they facilitate experience design sessions, particularly how many variables can be brought into play during a seemingly simple one-to-one interaction like a interview, let alone something more complex like a focus group or usability test.

In both cases being aware of the unspoken influence your inner judge will positively affect your ability to reach better outcomes and decisions for your project.

Case Study: Effective UX Is Good Business

So, the corporate chieftain who once declared that “the food business is not a technology business” has spent $42 million to update Panera. “The goal is to eliminate friction points so that customers have a better experience […] because if they have a better experience, it will help our business.”

The integration and establishment of user experience design practice continues apace! A nice case study about the CEO of the Panera Bread restaurant chain ‘eating his own dog food’, reflecting on his privileged experience, and having the influence to affect changes that empower his customers.

User Centred Government, Notes

My favourite nuggets from Leisa Reichelt’s talk at HCID Open Day 2014, organised by City Interaction Lab.

Leisa was talking about about affecting good user-centred practices in large and complex organisations via her role at GDS. As usual she had lots of sensible, practical and plainly spoken advice for helping to stay focussed on collaborating to ship great experiences.


“User research closes distance”

— insightful and succinct way to remember and describe empathetic experience design practice.

“You can’t iterate away bad policy”

— you’ve got to get people and process aligned on projects.

“Every team member should observe 2 hours of user research every 6 weeks”


“At least one session of research should e planned for every two weeks of design work”

— about the idea of a minimum viable number of exposure hours[1] that are necessary to make a difference to a project team.
Also about using quantifiable targets (numbers) to positively affect behaviour, culture and processes: “it’s amazing how things just become a thing”.

“The strategy is delivery. Deliver useful stuff to teams incredibly regularly”

— a nice way to think about selling your value to people and teams by being dependable, visible, findable and just-in-time.

Further reading

  1. UIE: Fast Path to a Great UX – Increased Exposure Hours

User Acceptance Testing

User Acceptance Testing “I’m just trying to find out if I’m doing what you want me to do.”

Enterprise IT project User Acceptance Testing (UAT) should really be called “User Amelioration Training”.

Two projects, two teams, two meters apart, two very different approaches.

Content Strategy, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Accessibility