Writing to the World Wide Web
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Final Design Project: Usability Test

This part of your final design project will consist of developing a usability plan for your web site. You will use this test plan in class on the week of April 21st to get feedback on your website. This is a (paper) document that is worth 50 points of your final grade and is due on April 16th at 5 p.m.. It will consist of three parts:

Each of these sections is discussed in detail below.

Goals and Tasks
This section is based on the audience analysis and purpose you specified in your design document. (For details on this section, look at pages 204-210 in Penny Bauersfeld's Software by Design, handed out in class) If you haven't done it yet, write up some general goals that you want users of your website to be able to accomplish. Then write up some realistic task scenarios that your users will be involved in. You will present these scenarios to your test subjects, then (as discussed in the next section) evaluate how well they are able to perform the tasks in these scenarios. You will most likely write these in the second person (as if you are addressing the user). For example, for a website designed to promote recycling at RPI you might set up the following task scenario: "Your department has just purchased 10 new computers that came packed in plastic, styrofoam, and cardboard. Find RPI's recycling website to determine whether you can recycle any of these packing materials, and if so, how you would do it."

Test Procedures
This section includes details of how you will actually set up and perform your usability test to evaluate your goals. In this section, you will include how you plan to evaluate the testers when they are performing the tasks you specify. Be specific as possible. For example, are you going to observe and take notes on their actions? Are you going use a stopwatch to time how long they spend on each page? Are you going to have them do a "think aloud" test, where they talk about what they're doing as they're using the website? Are you going to have them evaluate your website on paper (for example, have them look at printouts and tell you where they think the links are and what they expect to find when they "click" on the links)?

Followup Questionnaires and Questions
In addition to observing your test subjects test your website, you should also have a brief questionniare (~10 questions) to have them fill out after they are done. For examples of what I'm looking for, see pages 485-490 in Ben Shneiderman's Designing the User Interface (handed out in class). Think up questions that will provide feedback on such things as navigation, quality of information, speed of loading, and general appeal of the site.

And finally, come up with some open-ended interview questions to ask your test subjects upon completion of the test. For examples of these questions, see page 214 in the Bauersfeld handout.

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Created 4.1.97. huntk@rpi.edu