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Spark2D and Tangível create UX Laboratory at LISPOLIS

LISPOLIS has been, since its conception, the preferred space for Research and Development by installed companies. In 2019, we reinforced this commitment with the creation of the first UX Laboratory (User eXperience) at the Technological Center of Lisbon.


By Cíntia Costa


Digital Transformation is an increasingly central issue with a greater real impact on the daily lives of workers in modern companies. One of the aspects covered in this topic is the focus on the user experience, which is intended to be intuitive and positive.

“To design positive experiences there is an absolutely key aspect, which is: everything we do is user-centered”, indicates André Carvalho, Partner at Spark2D and Tangível. To this end, its team develops usability tests for brands such as Santander, SIBS, Critical Software, Médis, Cetelem, ANACOM and Worten, in order to understand the user’s side and adapt the tools to their expectations.

To achieve good results, usability tests must be conducted in a controlled environment, and since there are few suitable spaces in Lisbon, Spark2D, a company focused on Digital Transformation, and Tangível, a company specialized in User Experience Design, decided to create in LISPOLIS its first UX Lab in Lisbon.


How does the UX Lab work?

This Laboratory consists of an isolated room, where the user will test the product, whether it is an app or a website, accompanied by a moderator, and an observation room, where other UX professionals and the customers themselves are, in order to be able to understand in real time how their users experience each stage of the process.

The test room must be isolated and equipped with a computer, a camera in front of the user’s face to analyze facial features, a camera facing downwards, to record the tests on a mobile phone, and a camera facing the room, to view the user’s posture.

“These test equipment, cameras and other technologies are used to record everything the user does. For example, if we were working on a browser, we are interested in understanding the movement of the mouse and clicks, because that can give us clues about hesitations, for example. We are interested in recording everything the user says, where he looks, body language, facial expressions, among others, because from observation, dialogue, what the user is doing and his gestural and body behavior, we can infer many things ”, clarifies André.

For the sake of exemption and non-influence, the good practices of usability tests indicate that only the user and the moderator should be in the room. Thus, the role of the moderator is fundamental here. He must have a great know-how and be aware of a set of techniques to obtain better results.

“The moderator has to be exempt, he has to indicate the tasks without ever influencing that person’s behavior. He uses psychology techniques, such as: when the person is thinking out loud and asks ‘and now, what do you think I should do?’, and the moderator answers ‘yes, exactly, what would you do now?’ instead of giving the answer. And he must try to understand, when there are moments of silence, what is happening, because the person is thinking about something, he just isn’t verbalizing. Therefore, we use a technique that is also used in psychology, known as the think aloud technique, in which the moderator inqueries at certain times ‘explain to me what you are thinking’ or ‘explain to me what your question is at this moment, what is your hesitation’, which allows us to embody sensations, reactions, expectations, frustrations and emotions”, clarifies André.

Of course, the moderator cannot do everything at the same time, so he is fundamentally dedicated to leading the person, and is in contact with the other UX professionals to receive instructions from the observation room. “In the past, these tests were carried out in two adjoining rooms with mirrored glass, without cameras. But that is no longer used, because although this technology is available and there are rooms in Lisbon with this arrangement, it has some disadvantages: first of all, the observation room has to be dark because otherwise the user sees everything that happens on the other side; second, the person realizes that he is being observed and that is a little more intrusive, the person is more embarrassed; third, in the observation room, it is very normal for spirits to flare up and for people to speak loudly and, being the adjacent room, it interferes with what is happening in the test room”, explains André.



A Positive User Experience

“What is a positive experience? It’s me having positive emotions along the way”, says André. If an app appears to be intuitive, but has extra steps to login, for example, it causes frustration to users and is a negative experience. These are the small steps that differentiate two apps that have the same functionality but different user experiences.

“These are moments of frustration that we try to resolve: we try to identify and resolve the pain points. And this type of tests allows not only to understand what the problems are and where they are, but also to investigate the deep reasons for these problems”, he explains.

Tangível is a company from Coimbra that has over 15 years of experience in this area and uses this and other methodologies to understand users. “Complementing this accumulated know-how is a permanent ‘going’ to users, that is, we always involve users, both in the researching part of their needs and in testing ideas that we have along the way”, says André.

In order to involve users, various types of tests can be conducted, within the UX Lab or in context, in the user’s natural environment (either at work or at home). However, the preference is for UX Lab, considering that it has more conditions for observation in real time.

“Consumers have new habits, and the digital transformation is not only because new technologies have arrived, it is also because consumers have changed their way of choosing, and in the past choosing a product or service had a lot to do with price and availability. Price and availability are still relevant, but nowadays experience is becoming increasingly important, that is, consumer choices. These consumers are less and less loyal: it has a lot to do with price, yes, availability, yes, but more and more with experience”, says André about the new paradigm.

“We are betting on designing experiences that make our customers differentiate themselves from their competitors, not just because of the normal arguments of lowering prices or having a stronger brand, doing more advertising or being present in more shopping centers, but because they present a better user experience”, he concludes.

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