Assignment 1: Naive usability test

Pick two different technologies or information systems: a web site, an ATM machine, a car, a bicycle…the possibilities are many.

  • One that you have used many times in the past;
  • One that you are using for the first time.

For the length of a transaction, or about 15 minutes, whichever is less, notice and record  your experience.  Pay attention to such issues as:

  • instances in which you had to modify your own activity to suit the needs of the system or technology;
  • moments of confusion or uncertainty, such as questions about what actions you should take or what a display or system response means;
  • inconveniences, instances requiring added effort from you — physical (e.g., doing something, or doing something in an awkward or effortful way) or mental (e.g., having to remember something that takes some effort);
  • emotional reactions, such as annoyance (“why do I have to do this? why can’t I do that?”), anger, fear (“will it eat my ATM card?”); pleasure, happiness (“That was fun!” “That’s really easy!”); whatever;
  • added effort or attention of any kind;
  • What’s even harder to notice: times when everything went smoothly, without problems.

When you are using the one with which you have prior experience, these may be harder to notice.  Pay attention to the ways in which you have been trained to do things its way, the accommodations that you are now used to making.

Simply notice and describe your experience.  Do not leap into redesigning it to work better.

Summarize your observations  for each instance in about two pages. Then write an additional page or two reflecting on what you learned about usability from this exercise. Photos (or screenshots, or whatever) can be helpful. The point is not to apply any of the readings, but to notice your own experience as a user.

Write approximately 2 pages for each instance (the familiar and unfamiliar) plus a 1 to 2 page reflection (total approx. 5 to 6 pages). Upload it to your folder on bspace.

I will not grade this assignment but record it as done.