UITS Usability Lab

Our trip to the usability lab was quite interesting. They showed us how they observe users with a video camera, Morae software, and directly on the other side of a two-way mirror. Using these techniques, particularly in this lab, would certainly be useful for our project on OneStart’s Student Center. Recording and observing how the user interacts with the site in an unobtrusive manner like they do at the Wrubel Computing Center would better allow us to understand what might be improved. For example, the Morae software could record how many clicks it takes for the user to do a task and we could observe its level of difficulty. Then we might propose to simplify more difficult tasks by doing something like minimizing the number of clicks.

Actually being able to use this lab and software for our project, however, doesn’t seem likely because it is very expensive and used for professional purposes. Also, observing several people in this manner would be a time-consuming process. Although it would be helpful, simply interviewing people and following usability guidelines to propose changes to the Student Center will probably suffice. Overall, the field trip was useful by showing us how they actually test usability.

Pukinskis Critique

Suggestions:

From the PRI on the GroupBProject:

Ok, what was listed as “research”, in your group project blog, was saying what you did and your data but not what you found. Like research could be either a percentage “75% of users preferred the updates” or a statement like “A majority of users were unable to perform task A”.

Now you might be thinking that “what you found” is an insight, so let me explain how they are different: A research item could be something like “95% of participants polled, who were Dr. Pepper fans, preferred the color blue” and an insight would be “We should implement blue into our design of Dr. Pepper cans”. Now this may or may not be a good idea, but it is very well documented how I came to that conclusion.

Research is what you found and an insight is more of like a course of action, in regards to your design, you will take, based on your research.

Blog related:

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when doing a Pukinskis set:

* Also, when you do a Pukinskis set, you need to list the items you are specifically looking at, so that a person can immediately see your train of thought. It makes it easier for a person to either agree or disagree with your train of thought.

* When doing a Pukinskis Set, you need to have either multiple research items and/or insights to help you produce the final part: the concepts.

* Research is your research findings, not how you did your research.

Question about our design

A question that I have about our design is if our design is too different from what the students are used to? We redesigned the application for registering for classes so everything is on one screen. Students no longer have to first search what class they want and then go to the next screen, pick the time they want, and then start the process over again. The old method was slow, but it was clear what the next step was. In our system I am concerned that students will not know where to begin.

I hope that when I am observing the tests of the prototype students know to use the search button first and then select the class that appears to the right. I expect the calendar feature to be easy to understand. My question will be answered if the users can register for a class without having any questions on what to do first.

Pukinskis Set

Predisposition:

– The system is not popular

– Students want to register quickly

– There are too many links and requires too many clicks to register

– Students have a hard time figuring out how to use the system

Research:

(Based on students we interviewed)

– Students think the system is confusing

– Students think the system is too tedious and takes too long

Insight:

– Making everything easily accessible and easy to find should speed up the process and make it more enjoyable for the user

– Minimize amount of clicks required should also speed up the process and make it less confusing

Concepts:

1. Since students don’t like registering for classes and find it tedious. I propose making a system that automatically does most of the work for them. It looks at the classes that are required to graduate and finds classes that meet the requirements and fits in their schedule. Students can look at their pre-made schedule and make whatever changes they like. The student must approve the schedule before it is finalized.

2. According to our interviews a lot of users find the existing system tedious. Users want to quickly register for classes and get on with their lives. So, one idea I have is to put everything that is needed to register for classes on one screen, so students don’t have to click on a bunch of links to register for classes. This should make it less tedious and make it more organized.

Pondering

I question that I have for this concept is that will it make registering for classes easier. Will our idea save students time? To me this is the most important thing about our project because if it’s not better for the user than its predecessor then it’s been a waste of our time developing it. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense for us designers, only that the users are happy with it.

A meaningless title :D

So, will our new design actually make registering stress free (is that possible?), will it make things quicker, will the users enjoy it? These seem to be the general consensus among us. I think our paper prototype testings will give us a good answer to these questions. My main question however is, do users who lack general computing knowledge know how to use a hierarchy? I think this might be a problem to a very low percentage of people. While administering the tests, I think body language and a post questionnaire will really help us understand if what we have designed will be beneficial.

The question everyone is asking…

I like the others who have posted already am curious, will this prototype of our application actaully make the registering process easier?  Though I will not know the answer until we actually administer the prototype test, i feel confident in our group’s thought procsess and final prototype.  We went through many different ideas, what to add, what to delete, what needs relabeling, what is already easily understood; after these and many other questions our group took into consideration our original interview and other works, we have created a paper prototype that covers what we think are all the needs the user could have.

I am excited to see if our plans will be as efficent as we believe they are, working on something so crucial to students education here at IU gives me and the others in our group some extra motivation to make sure our changes are improvementsm, hopefully all goes well.

Bloggin for your noggin

My question for our prototyping is will people find this rearrangement too radical of a change?  Will users be overwhelmed by a larger interface with multiple areas of interest rather than different compartmentalized focus on different screens?

Answering this is in theory simple; ask users afterwords.  However users may have a conflicted view of the new interface.  Often times with software like this any change can be construed as bad simply because a change means learning a new interface when students like me may only have to use it once or twice more.  It may also overwhelm users with “too much information” syndrome and cause users to be frustrated by it.  I hope to do my prototyping study tonight… hint… Alex you need to call me… and my questions will be anwered there.

Prototyping Question

The question I have about our group’s design is, “Does the layout make registering for classes easier?” To answer this question, we’ll do a short post-test interview, asking the test subject directly how comfortable they are with it compared to the current Student Center. Watching their body language and expressions will be key indications, also. Overall, we want to improve the user’s experience with choosing their classes, and this is a good opportunity to see if it is working.

I fly like Paper, get HCI like Prototypes

My one secret question is…will people really find this new design helpful?

As much as I trust our research, we are all definitely biased, because we have to use this also, and WE think it needs a change. If I were actaully working for a company, I feel like I wouldn’t have so much of a personal vendetta against this program. So! Basically, I am hoping to find out if it has been our own thoughts driving this project, or if the user will actually appreciate it.

Basic reactions from watching the user try it out should be enough to tell me what I want to know. I am really hoping to get some responses like “You guys should totally do this for real” or “Wow, this is a million times better.” However, I will settle for the occasional   “Oh, that’s cool.”

While I am doing research, I will make sure to ask the user to display their ideas about the project prominently so I can get a good reading.

Since Jonny and I should be conducting a study tonight, I hope to get the results that I crave!