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The Freecycle Network (Expert Evaluation: Heuristic Evaluations and Cognitive Walkthroughs)
 

The Freecycle Network (Expert Evaluation: Heuristic Evaluations and Cognitive Walkthroughs)

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    The Freecycle Network (Expert Evaluation: Heuristic Evaluations and Cognitive Walkthroughs) The Freecycle Network (Expert Evaluation: Heuristic Evaluations and Cognitive Walkthroughs) Document Transcript

    • THE FREECYCLETM NETWORK EVALUATORS: JOE GOEBEL - goebejoe@gmail.com INDIA GREEN - icgreen84@gmail.com JERI HERRERA - JeriHerrera@gmail.com JOSEPH HOWERTON - joseph@unit64.com Pro ject 1 • HCI 460 •Usability Evaluation Methods • April 13, 2011
    • Table of Contents Executive Summary! 1 Application & Users! 2 Application Description! 2 Target Users! 2 Heuristic Evaluation Summary! 2 Objectives! 2 Findings! 2 Discussion of Our Cognitive Walkthrough! 3 Sign Up / Become a Member! 3 Search Posts! 3 Recommendations! 4 1. Combine the two navigation schemas into one global navigation bar.! 4 2. Redesign the sign in/sign up forms and process.! 4 3. Provide instructions for how to use the site to new users! 4 Appendix A: Heuristic Evaluations Raw Data! 5 Appendix B: Cognitive Walkthrough Raw Data! 17 Individual Cognitive Questions! 17 Appendix C: Detail Discussion of Cognitive Walkthrough! 27 Appendix D: Detail Recommendations! 28 Appendix E: Reference! 30 Appendix F: Member Contribution! 31 Team Member Contributions! 31 The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1
    • Executive Summary The Freecycle™ Network is an online web application that allows users to browse, search, and post classified ads for free local items that might otherwise end up in landfills. The site allows users to browse local groups and become members, connecting them to free items available in their area. The following report summarizes our findings of conducing a heuristic analysis of the site, cognitive walkthroughs of two common tasks performed when using the application, and our high-level recommendations for how the site could be improved. The heuristic analysis revealed several problem areas in the user experience and architecture of the site as well as areas in which the application performed efficiently. The cognitive walk- throughs focused on what we believe were the two most common tasks performed when using the site: signing up for a membership and performing a search to filter through posts. Results of the heuristic analysis and cognitive walkthroughs led us to three high-priority rec- ommendations for improving the interface. The first recommendation is to redesign the two navigation frameworks into one global navigation that is visible on every page of the site and a more streamlined user experience aimed to reduce user memory load and promote consistency. The second recommendation is to redesign the sign in/sign up experience so the two are sepa- rate functions and users can easily differentiate one from the other. The revised sign up experi- ence also involves providing users with better feedback upon completion of the task and an op- tion for selecting a home group. The third recommendation is to provide users with simple in- structions for how to use the site. These could either go on the homepage or in the form of a post-transactional email after users sign up for membership. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 1
    • Application & Users Application Description The Freecycle™ Network was established in 2003 as an email group in Tucson, Arizona [1]. The Freecycle™ Network has since grown into a global concept spanning 85 countries [1]. The goals of the organization are to keep gently used items out of landfills and instill a sense of generosity within their members, while limiting the items that end up in landfills all over the world. The organization estimates it is keeping over 500 tons a day out of landfills [1]. Target Users The Freecycle™ market consists of environmentally conscious people who value the idea of re- using items rather than throwing them away and polluting global landfills. The no-strings con- cept also acts as a valuable way for people to obtain items they may need, but may not have purchased otherwise. The technical expertise of the users varies from someone with minimal experience using web applications to the more advanced web user. Heuristic Evaluation Summary Objectives The objective of the heuristic evaluation was to assess the Freecycle™ website and identify any significant usability issues. During the heuristic evaluation the following list of usability heuris- tics was used as a structure in documenting any issues found in the application. A complete re- pository of each group member’s individual heuristic evaluation can be found in the appendix. Findings Each team member composed an individual heuristic evaluation for performing various tasks on the site and each individual evaluation was comprised into a summary of the group’s The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 2 Simple and natural dialog Speak the user's language Minimize user memory load Be consistent  Provide feedback  Provide clearly marked exits  Provide shortcuts  Good error messages  Prevent errors  [2]
    • findings. Collectively, the heuristic evaluations uncovered that the website suffers from signifi- cant navigation issues. The inconsistent navigation on each page and the labeling of the naviga- tion tabs is confusing and doesn’t always speak the user’s language. The navigation also directs users into dead ends with no clear exit and often relies on the browser’s back button. Employ- ing a global navigation that’s visible on every page within the application would significantly reduce confusion and user error. The heuristic evaluations also revealed that the sign in/sign up process and getting started with the application are problematic. There are no clear instructions provided to users for how to start using the website by viewing offers and wanteds posts or adding a group and users are left to piece these tasks together accidentally. These issues can be attributed to poor process creation and lack of appropriate documentation. Discussion of Our Cognitive Walkthrough Our team conducted cognitive walkthroughs of two of the primary tasks user will perform on the Freecycle™ website. The two tasks we reviewed were signing up to create a membership for the site and performing a search function to filter through the posts. Two team members fo- cused on the first task and the other two focused on the second task, whereupon we formed a summary of the combined findings by each individual team member for each separate task. Be- low is a summary of the findings for each task. Sign Up / Become a Member There were two major problems found with this task. The first is the language that is used in referencing the function. The terms used are not common to an average user and could poten- tially cause confusion. The second problem with this task is there is no easy way for users to re- turn to the homepage after registering. Search Posts When reviewing the search posts functionality of the application, our walkthroughs revealed that the location of the Search Posts button is not ideal, as it is not called out in any way and is easily lost within the page. Additionally, the visual design of the button is identical to the Make New Post button located directly beside it. It might be beneficial to the application to accommo- date this button in the global navigation redesign. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 3
    • Recommendations 1. Combine the two navigation schemas into one global navigation bar. Problem: There are currently two navigation bars that are visibly inconsistent. There are ar- eas on the site where both, one, or neither of the navigation schemas are visible, which is inconsistent and confusing. Solution: Consolidate both navigations into a single global navigation that is visible and consistent on every page, sub-page, and area of the application. Severity Rating: High 2. Redesign the sign in/sign up forms and process. Problem: The current site has one link for new users to sign up and returning users to sign in. However when a user clicks this link the only option is to sign in by entering a username and password. In order for users to view all the content on the site and utilize the applica- tion to its fullest, they need to sign up to create a new account. The current state of the ap- plication does not provide an easy way for users to do this. Solution: Instead of combining the sign in/sign up form as one link, there should be a sign in form on the homepage so returning users can login quickly. There should be a separate link located next to the sign in form for new users to sign up, which would direct new users to a separate registration path. Severity Rating: High 3. Provide instructions for how to use the site to new users Problem: The current site makes a lot of assumptions about users’ understanding of terms such as “Home Group,” “Offers,” and “Wanteds” and it is not clear to new users that they need to add a Home Group to begin using the site. In addition, there is a lack of communica- tion between Freecycle™ and users who have completed the registration task. This can be confusing and intimidating to new users. Solution: Provide a quick step-by-step on how to start using the site both on the homepage, after users complete the registration form, and possibly in a post-transactional email upon registration completion. Severity Rating: High The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 4
    • Appendix A: Heuristic Evaluations Raw Data Simple and natural dialog - Simple means no irrelevant or rarely used information. Natural means an order that matches the task. India - Location: my Freecycle beta Page – Sign-up Form Problem: The instructions on the sign up page states that they recommend the User to use their Yahoo email address if they have one or add the new address to your Yahoo profiles. This information makes it seem that the User needs to have a Yahoo account in order to join Freecycle. Solution: The instructions should be a clearer to ensure the User understands that they don’t need a Yahoo account unless the group they are trying to join is running on Yahoo Groups. Severity Rating: Medium Jeri - Location: The site navigation tabs Problem: The site navigation tabs are highlighted to provide the user with their current location. Within each page there is no title telling the user where they are. All of the con- tent is displayed in a uniform manner. Each page appears to be the same, which can be confusing. There is no indication at the top of the page stating the user’s location. Upon clicking on a listing, there are also no bread crumbs available to the user and the high- light of the navigation tab disappears. Solution: The navigation highlight feature should remain intact when a user has navi- gated to a second level of the navigation category. There should also be bread crumbs indicating the level of navigation accomplished within the category. Severity Rating: High Joe - Location: sign in/sign up link Problem: The sign in/sign up link only allows you to sign in. I had to enter a username and password I knew would be incorrect to be redirected to the sign up form. There is also no real explanation on the homepage of how the site is used. This is particularly problematic since the site relies heavily on Yahoo! Groups. Solution: It seems like the signup form could be a link in the sign in/sign up drop-down menu. It might be helpful to show upfront that the site works in tandem with Yahoo! The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 5
    • Groups. Another area where I found irrelevant information was on the FAQ homepage where the site’s mission statement was the most prominent information displayed. Severity Rating: High Joseph - Location: http://groups.freecycle.org/chicagofreecycle/posts/all Problem: I think the ADMIN! Posts at the top of the page are kind of distracting. The term ADMIN! I believe is misleading. Solution: I think it should be called something different as well, like NEW or NEWS or UPDATES. I believe we could add a navigation icon for it, so it’s not at the top of the posts. Severity Rating: LOW Speak the user's language - Use words and concepts from the user's world. Don't use system- specific engineering terms. India - Location: My Groups Tab Problem: If the User is not familiar with using a forum they might not understand that the button stating Contact the ModTeam is what they need to click in order to contact the groups admins or moderators. Solution: Changing “ModTeam” to Admin or Group Admin can help clarify new users that this where the go to contact the group leaders. Severity Rating: Medium Jeri - Location: Chicago Home Page Problem: The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and con- cepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conven- tions, making information appear in a natural and logical order. Throughout the site there is an icon , which is not something typically found on other websites. This is a very salient icon provided for the user as an alert to something. Solution: Perhaps there could be an updates section of the website. If the site adopted more user friendly terms there may be an understanding as to what the website admin is trying to convey. The use of the !ADMIN icon is not enough to tell the user what it means. Severity Rating: Medium The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 6
    • Joe - Location: “Home Group” and “Group Membership List”, “Offers” and “Wanteds” Problem: For the most part, the site does a fine job at speaking the user’s language, but some assumptions are made that are problematic such as the site’s dependence on Ya- hoo! Groups. Another assumption is that the user understands the terms “Home Group” and “Group Membership List” both of which the user is required to be familiar with in order to use the site. The terms “Offers” and “Wanteds” aren’t necessarily common to the new user, but tend to make more sense to the repeat user. Solution: As a first time visitor, I think it would be useful to have a quick overview of how the site is used with Yahoo! Groups and a simple step-by-step of how to get started. The use of terms such as “My Groups” and “My Info” are good – I think most users are familiar with those terms. Severity Rating: Low Joseph - Location: http://groups.freecycle.org/chicagofreecycle/posts/all At the top of the posts page you will find this e-mail link, ModTeam: chicagofreecycle@mods.freecycle.org, which sends an e-mail to the moderator of the group. Problem: I think it’s totally vague and ambiguous, and hard to pick up on. Solution: This should be called something relatable like e-mail Group Moderator. Severity Rating: LOW Minimize user memory load - Don't make the user remember things from one action to the next. Leave information on the screen until it's not needed. India - Location: my Freecycle beta Page - Signup Form Problem: If the User navigates to their “my Freecycle” beta page while viewing agroup that is not their home group, when they click back on the any of the Orange Tabs they will see their home group information not the group they was viewing before. Solution: Allow the User to be able to return to the previous group they were viewing and add another tab or selection to the menu that allows the user to view their home group anytime Severity Rating: Medium Jeri – Location: Chicago Home Page Problem: If the user is not logged into the website and clicks My Posts, My Groups or My Info, the user it entered to a beta site of Freecycle and all of the typical navigation disappears. There is no emergency exit provided. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 7
    • Solution: The site should maintain a consistent global navigation bar to the user, allow- ing them to navigate out of an erroneous click before logging in. It is typical that web- sites providing user login capabilities provide these features in the upper-right hand corner of the page. Freecycle lists the login links in the middle of the page, under the !ADMIN alerts. This is not a typical location for login consistency. The website forces the user to scroll down past the bloated !ADMIN section to login. Severity Rating: Medium Joe – Location: Problem: The site could do a much better job at keeping things visible throughout the experience. After I completed the sign up form I was directed to the “My Groups” tab, which instructed me to search the name of a group and the example provided was “Tuc- son, Arizona”. Since I entered the site through the Chicago Freecycle group, I found it disorienting to have to search for the Chicago group again after I completed the sign up process. Another major violation of this heuristic is the main navigation at the top of the page. When I’m viewing any of the pages within the green tabs (My Posts, My Groups, My Info) the main navigation vanishes and a smaller, less noticeable navigation appears on the upper right corner of the screen. When on the homepage for the Chicago Group one of the first links I noticed was the ADMIN post: “Chicago Freecycle FAQ and How To Guide,” which took me to a page with the most common FAQs. I also noticed a link in the main navigation for FAQ, which took me to a completely different page with the site’s mission statement, the main navigation has vanished, and a new navigation ap- pears on the left. This is also disorienting and confusing. Solution: Why not keep the same navigation throughout the entire experience? Severity Rating: Medium Joseph - Location: http://groups.freecycle.org/chicagofreecycle/description Problem: This is a description or About Us page of the Chicago Freecycle Network. Solution: I think the page should come earlier in the navigation schema. Further, the files navigation element should be removed because it’s not clear how these fit together, and it is currently adding no value to the user. Severity Rating: LOW The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 8
    • Be consistent - Users should be able to learn an action sequence in one part of the system and apply it again to get similar results in other places. India - Location: Top Navigation Problem: The top navigation menu is only available when User is in any of the Orange Tabs (All items, Offers, Wanteds, Group Info). Clicking on any of the Green Tabs ( My Posts, My Groups, My Info) will redirect the User to the “my Freecycle” beta page and the top navigation will disappear. The User cannot access any of the items listed in the top navigation menu from the Green Tabs ( My Posts, My Groups, My Info) Solution: Make the top navigation available in all pages and tabs. Severity Rating: Serious Jeri – Location: Chicago Home Page Problem: At first glance the site appears to be rather simplistic. However there are many twists and turns. There are two levels of global navigation provided for the user. Each set does not belong to the same site. The site appears to be raw and minimal, similar to a Craig’s list format. The levels of navigation and organic structure of the site do not corre- late with the minimalist design. Solution: The site layout should be developed and designed to prevent user error. The features of the site should not require a mini-manual for the user to read before use or seeing a particular button. The visual representation of the site’s features should be sim- plistic enough that the user is not required to memorize multiple pages of feature and processes to use the site. Severity Rating: Medium Joe – Location: the site’s navigation Problem: The main concern I have with consistency is the site’s navigation – sometimes it vanishes and is replaced by a simpler navigation that looks completely different. On other pages the navigation vanishes entirely and the only way for the user to return to the previous page is by clicking the browser’s back button. The orange tabs behave dif- ferently depending on what page you’re viewing, which is inconsistent and most of the links under the About Freecycle drop-down menu do not work, whereas the links in the other drop-down menus do work. Finally, when selecting the Newswire link from the The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 9
    • About Freecycle drop-down menu, the user is directed to a page that looks like a com- pletely different site. Solution: Stick to a consistent global navigation that is visible on every page of the site. Also, remove any links that aren’t active (e.g., most of the links in the About Freecycle drop-down menu) and move the content from the Newswire site to a page within the Freecycle site that has the same global navigation. Severity Rating: High Joseph - Location: Navigation menu at the very top of the page. Problem: The navigation menu bar at the very top of the page is out of sight for many users. It is not in keeping with design patterns, and the result is competing navigation schemas. Solution: I would like to incorporate the menu and task options into the primary navi- gation schema. Or at least do something creative with the menu so it “calls out” more readily to the user. Severity Rating: HIGH Provide feedback - Let users know what effect their actions have on the system. India - Location: Viewing Groups Problem: New Users are immediately told that they need to select a home group before they are able to view any groups offers, wanteds, and group info. The User does not receive any notified until they click the any of the Orange Tabs or the My Groups tab. Solution: Explain to the user via email or in the my info page that they need to join a group and set it as their home group before they can see anything under the Orange Tabs. Severity Rating: Serious Jeri – Location: Offers / Wanted tab Problem: Once the user has attempted to join a group there is an email sent to the user. However, during the process of establishing a group, there are neither instructions nor notifications that an email will be sent to the user requiring them to respond. The use must stumble upon the email sent by the group moderator. Once the user re- plies, the group moderator will manually enable the group association. There is also no notification to the user when this step is complete. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 10
    • Solution: The group association should be added to the sign up process and automati- cally approved once the system validates the new user’s account. Severity Rating: High Joe – Location: Problem: When viewing any of the pages under the green tabs the text on the orange tabs does not have a hover action like the green tabs do. Including this hover action pro- vides feedback to the user so they know the tabs are links. When the user views an item that is posted and there’s a photo, the text near the photo says “click the thumbnail to view full size image,” but when the user hovers over the image the cursor doesn’t change to indicate this is a clickable item on the page. When the user joins a new group there could be better feedback that the action was successful. Perhaps a message saying “Your membership is awaiting approval” would be helpful because when a user tries to add a new post to the group, they are redirected to a page telling them they don’t belong to any groups yet. The user must either navigate to the My Groups tab to see that the group membership is awaiting approval, or read the post-transactional email, stating membership is awaiting approval. Solution: When a user takes action to make a group their home group there could be better feedback letting the user know this transaction was successful. The current site simply removes the option. Severity Rating: High Joseph - Location: http://groups.freecycle.org/chicagofreecycle/files Problem: Under the Group Info tab dropdown you will find a selection called files, but when you click on it there are no files or anything. I feel the user is kind of stuck won- dering what is supposed to be here. Further, there is no feedback saying that there no files to be found here. Solution: Let the user know where they are at in this files section, and why it is of value to them with a brief description. Also, add a line of dialogue that says basically, you are here, and there are no files. Severity Rating: MEDIUM Provide clearly marked exits - If users get into part of the system that doesn't interest them, they should always be able to get out quickly without damaging anything. India - Location: Log Out The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 11
    • Problem: When logging out, the user is redirected to the “my Freecycle” beta sign in page. There is no navigation menus on this page. The only two ways the User can return to the Chicago Freecycle Group was to change the url from my.feedback.org to www.feedback.org or pressing the back button on the browser until I found the Chicago Freecycle Group page again. Solution: When the User logs out return them to their previous page. Provide navigation on all pages. Severity Rating: Critical Jeri – Location: My Posts, My Groups or My Info tabs Problem: If the user is not logged into the site the My Posts, My Groups or My Info tabs should not appear in the navigation bar. This provides significant room for error. Once the user has clicked on these tabs they are taken to a beta site asking them to log in. The beta site has no global navigation and the user is forced to use the browser’s back button to exit the screen. Solution: The site should be more dynamic. The visitor who is not yet a user should not be able to see these tabs. If they click on the tabs erroneously then the user should be able to get back to the location they were in previously. Severity Rating: Medium Joe – Location: Problem: The pages on the site where the main navigation is present provide adequate exits to the user. However, there are pages such as the FAQ page and the Newswire page that lose the navigation altogether or direct the user to what appears to be a completely separate site that fails to provide these exits and rely on the browser’s back button. Solution: Use the same global navigation on each page so the user becomes familiar with it and learns to use it to navigate back to familiar pages if s/he is in the site too deep. Severity Rating: Medium Joseph - Location: http://www.freecycle.org/?warp=no Problem: This is the Freecycle Home page. If the user lands here, there is really nothing that reminds them they are in the Chicago group. They have to click the back button, or the groups tab. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 12
    • Solution: Provide clearly marked navigation options on this page that are to be found on each of the other pages. Severity Rating: MEDIUM Provide shortcuts - Shortcuts can help experienced users avoid lengthy dialogs and informa- tional messages that they don't need. India - Location: my Freecycle beta Page - Signup Form Problem: If the new User is directed to a My Info page with no further information on what they need to do next. The User has to click around for further instructions. Solution: Send the User a welcome email containing username and information on how to get started with using Freecycle Severity Rating: Low Jeri – Location: Chicago Home Page Problem: If the user selects the first set of navigation they are taken out of their local site and taken to the Freecycle, global site. If the user would like to navigate back to the local site they are forced to pogostick back up to the global home page and search for their local city again. Solution: The shortcuts provided within the global navigation are more confusing than helpful. There should be a consistent sitemap for the site. Additionally, the user should be kept in their local group area unless they specify to leave. Severity Rating: High Joe – Location: Problem: The pages on the site where the main navigation is present provide pretty good shortcuts to pages that are probably most commonly used such as My Groups, My Info, etc., However My Info is labeled “My Freecycle” in the navigation where it could possibly be labeled “My Home” and My Groups appears under the My Freecycle drop- down in the navigation as well as in a stand alone link next to My Freecyle in the navi- gation, which is redundant. Solution: Remove redundancies and use the same global navigation on each page. Severity Rating: Low Joseph - Location: http://www.freecycle.org/about/background The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 13
    • Problem: The global navigation tabs bar is not found here. Solution: Include the tabs across these pages to create a seamless navigating experience. Severity Rating: HIGH Good error messages - Good error messages let the user know what the problem is and how to correct it. India - Location: my Freecycle beta Page - Signup Form Problem: On “my Freecycle” beta page there is no way to access the FAQ page or any other help documents. User has to visited a group page before finding any help docu- mentation about the Freecycle website Solution: Provide Users with a Help section on every page. Severity Rating: Serious Jeri – Location: !ADMIN alerts on Chicago Home Page Problem: There are little error messages thrown within the site. There are many ways the user can get lost or make mistakes. In the event that the site goes offline or the serv- ers fail, there is a “502 Bad Server” error displayed, with no other recovery information or site identity. Solution: The error message is very technical and not user friendly. The message should contain some identifying information about Freecycle. Severity Rating: low Joe – Location: Problem: The only error messages I noticed where when I tried to post to a group in which I am not a member of, but I didn’t really perceive it as an error message because it was the first time seeing that this was not something I could do, so I perceived it as an instruction for how to use the site. Solution: I think having the instructions up front would make more sense and showing a clear error message when a user attempts to post to a group they don’t belong to would make more sense. Also when I enter my username and password incorrectly I am directed to the sign up form. I think it makes more sense to use an error message here. Severity Rating: Medium Joseph - Location: Upon completion of sign-up The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 14
    • Problem: There is no communication between Freecycle and their users when they first sign-up, thus it is unclear that you have to wait for approval before you can post. Solution: Have dialogue in the sign-up process that states you will have to wait for ap- proval. And also contact users via upon completion of sign-up saying that they’ll have to wait to be approved as a user. Severity Rating: LOW Prevent errors - Whenever you write an error message you should also ask, can this error be avoided? India - Location: My Groups Problem: An unsubscribe group can still be selected as the User home group if it was before they unsubscribed. The User will still be able to clicked on all the Orange Tabs (All Items, Offers, Wanteds, Group Info) and see the groups information. The only way to change this is to join another group and set it as the new home group. Solution: When a user leaves a group (unsubscribe) then a message should show and give the User the option to delete or keep the unsubscribe group as their home group Severity Rating: Serious Jeri – Location: Chicago Admin Section Problem: The website has a significant amount of instructions for each new user. There are 15 steps to use the site, which span about two pages worth of reading. There are also warnings listed for the users to read due to the poor design and usability of the site. The warnings provide users with information that the “inappropriate” button is located near the “reply” button. There are five paragraphs warning about this new feature and warn- ing the users not to click the button erroneously. Solution: Any time there is a necessity to write multiple page warnings or instructions for use of a simple website, there should be some analysis done to figure out if there are complex steps that can be taken to eliminate the issue. The site should be designed in a more simplistic fashion, making good design choices. Severity Rating: high Joe – Location: The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 15
    • Problem: The site doesn’t really use errors so it’s hard to say where some could be re- moved. Solution: The sign in/sign up form could benefit from error and success messages. If a user enters the wrong username or password when signing in, they are directed to the sign up form. There should be an error message explaining to the user that s/he has en- tered the wrong login credentials and offer options for retrieving forgotten usernames and passwords. The sign up form could also utilize error and success message so the user knows the username they select is available and the password they choose is strong enough. Severity Rating: Medium Joseph - Location: http://www.freecycle.org/?warp=no Problem: This is the Freecycle Home page. If the user lands here, there is really nothing that reminds them they are in the Chicago group. They have to click the back button, or the groups tab. Solution: If the user is logged in, they should see the page with all of the tabs, and lan- guage that says you’re logged in to your Chicago group. Severity Rating: LOW The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 16
    • Appendix B: Cognitive Walkthrough Raw Data Individual Cognitive Questions Our team conducted cognitive walkthroughs of what we thought were the two primary tasks users will perform on the Freecycle™ website. The two tasks we reviewed were signing up to create a membership for the site and performing a search function to filter through the posts. Two team members focused on the first task and the other two focused on the second task, whereupon we formed a summary of the combined findings by each individual team member for each separate task. Each team member also answered the following four questions [3] of a cognitive walkthrough for each action with the task. 1. Will users be trying to produce whatever effect the action has? 2. Will users see the control (button, menu, switch, etc.) for the action? 3. Once users find the control, will they recognize that it produces the effect they want? 4. After the action is taken, will users understand the feedback they get, so they can go on to the next action with confidence? India Green Task: Signing up to become a member and return back to the Chicago Freecycle page without joining the group Action 1: Click the Signup/Login button that is located below the admin information on the page. 1. The Signup/Login button performs the way the user will expect it to. No complication or confusion 2. The button is located right below the Admin section on the page. Even without knowing where the Admin section is located, most new user will be able to identify the buttons without any problems 3. Yes, the button is clearly marked with Signup/Login. 4. Once the user clicks the button they will be redirected to the my Freecycle beta page. On this page they will see where to go to sign up. Action 2: Click the signup form link under the I’m not a My Freecycle user section heading. 1. Once the user click on the link they will be redirected to a form where they will enter a username, email, and password. However, there is a missed opportunity to quicken the The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 17
    • ! sign up process for the user with the Facebook login. Facebook login are becoming used ! ! often on many site as the primary login and sign up. My Freecycle could better advan! ! tage of this it was properly impalement it. 2. Yes, the link is located in the I’m not a My Freecycle user section and the plain language heading will help direct the user to the link. 3. In the “I’m not a My Freecycle user” section, there is a sentence that states “Go to the signup form and create your account for free” . Signup form is highlighted and pre- sented as a link indicating that when the user clicks it they will be redirected to the sign up form 4. The next page the user is taken to a form where they will see a the heading “ Sign up for My Freecycle”. On this page the user will also see where they would choose their user- name, email address and password Action 3 is to fill out the sign up form and press the Signup button. 1. The user will have little trouble understanding most of the action that is required on this page 2. After filling out the form the user might encounter an error message about not clicking the terms of service check box. The terms of service check box is located on the right side of the page. This is non-conventional because the typical user eyes would start scanning the page from left to right and they might not see the check box if they are doing a quick scan. 3. This page is very straight forward. After the user is finish they will understand that clicking the sign up button will make them a member of the site. 4. The user is taken to a page their my Freecycle (beta) page. Here they can see their user- name email and some basic settings for there account. From this page the user can gather that they are now a member. However presenting a limited time welcome page or email that contains information on how to get started can help better the user experience and maybe answer beginner questions they might have. Action 4: Click the All Post Tab. A dialog box stating “Please select a “home” Group” pops up. 1. No, they pop up box will catch the user off guard and the term home group might con- fuse them since they have never encounter this jargon before. 2. The pop up box will inform them that they will have to pick a home group before from The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 18
    • ! their group membership list. In the box they will see that “your group membership list” ! ! is a link. 3. The user might not understand at all what action to take next. Since the pop up box was unexpected and the terms in the pop up box are new to them, they might be in a lost moment. 4. The user will click the your group membership link in hopes that it will get them closer to there goal but at this point the user is unsure if it will. Action 5: Click the “your Group Member list” link. 1. The user is unsure where the link will take them. So the action of clicking the link is un- clear 2. Yes because this is the only other control available to the user while the popup box is ac- tive. 3. The use is unaware of what action this link will take. As state in action 4 question 4 by this point the user is confuse and is hoping that clicking the link will lead them back to the Chicago Freecycle page 4. Maybe, because clicking the link take the user to the My Groups Tab. In this tab they will see a search bar, which might lead the user to think they can just search for the page Action 6: type in Chicago into the search box and press the Find Group button. 1. Yes, but again the user is presented with uncertainty because the pages heading says Find other groups. The reason the user might be unsure is because they are looking of Chicago and might not be aware the states and cities are called groups. 2. The search box is located at the top of the tab section. 3. The user is still unaware that the groups represent cities. The information presented on the page centers around Yahoo groups. This can lead to further confusion because new user is not aware that groups represent cites and that some cities groups are using Yahoo Groups instead of the Freecycle page. The user by this point is hoping that by search in Chicago it will take them to their desired page. 4. By this point the user gains some confidence back because they are presented with a list- ing that shows them the Chicago in the list Final Action: Click the “Go to Group Page” button. 1. The Go to Group page button is clear and understandable. 2. The Go to Group Page button is located right next to the desired city( Chicago). The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 19
    • 3. The clear natural language of the labeling also helps the user know what it will be use for. 4. Yes the user finally returns to the page they were on before joining Freecycle. However the user is still presented with a few unanswered questions. Such as what a home group is. This will cause further issues later on. Jeri Herrera Task: Starting at the Chicago Freecycle Group page, the user will sign up for a new account and return to the Chicago Freecycle Group page. The user doesn’t want to become a member of the group right now. Action 1: Click the SIGN UP/LOG IN button that is located below the admin information on the page. 1. The user should understand that there is a necessity to establish an account in order to post an offering. This seems to be a fairly simple process. 2. The user should be able to find the sign up button located in the middle of the page. There is also a link at the top right-hand corner of the page. 3. The user should be taken to a page where they are able to establish an account. Instead, they are taken to a page where they must click another sign up link. This step could be eliminated by taking the user directly to the sign up form. 4. The user will understand that they are required to click on the signup link once again in order to establish an account. The fact that this process requires the user to select sign up twice does not leave the user with any confidence that the user is proceeding to the next step properly. Action 2: Click the signup form under the I’m not a My Freecycle user section heading. 1. It is believed that the user will try to accomplish this action and produce a username to log into the site. However, there may be some confusion of the user thinks they must be a Freecycle user in order to use their Facebook credentials. 2. The “agree to terms” box may be the only non-conventional aspect of the signup proc- ess, as it is located at the right-hand side of the signup form with padding that has the check box located far to the right. 3. The user should be taken to a page where they are able to establish an account. The user will find the effect they want. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 20
    • 4. The user will understand that they have accomplished the task of clicking on the sign up link and they are about to establish an account. The form displayed to the user as result will be familiar to the user and they can proceed with the account setup with confidence. Action 3: Fill out the sign up form and press the SIGN UP button. 1. This user will understand that they have successfully established a user account. They will easily understand that they have a new username and password, allowing the user to log into the website. 2. The form is very standard and easy to complete. The user will be able to easily find most of the fields required to complete the form. The “Agree to the Terms” check box is lo- cated on the right hand side of the message. This is a non-conventional placement. In addition to the check-box’s non-conventional placement, there is a significant amount of padding around it, pushing it out of the boundary of the message. The user is likely to miss the box and select the SIGN UP button beforehand. The form will not submit until the check box has been checked. 3. Once the user has completed the form and found the “Agree to the Terms” check box, selecting the SIGN UP button the website will stand for 30 seconds to a minute before taking the user to a screen displaying that the user has successfully established an ac- count. The screen displays the new user’s information greeting them to the site. This is fairly clear to the user. 4. The success screen provides the user with global navigation and the ability to change their settings on their account. The next step for the user is to establish their account with a “group”. There is no direction provided to the user to direct them to this next step. The user will erroneously proceed to the item listings or try to post an offering and neither of which will work without establishing a group. The process of establishing a group should be added to the sign up form in order to eliminate this step. Action 4: Click the ALL POST Tab. A dialog box stating “Please select a “Home” Group” pops up. 1. The user will not be trying to make this effect occur. The pop up box will be unexpected and may add confusion to the user’s action. This action can be eliminated by adding the group association selection to the signup form. 2. The user will see the ALL POST tab easily, which is located within the global navigation. However, the pop up window is not anticipated by the user. 3. The user will be surprised by the effect the pop up window will produce. The user will The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 21
    • not be able to see any posts until they are associated with a group. This is certainly not ! what is anticipated by the user. 4. Though the user will not be able to view any posts because they are not associated with a group, they will understand that they are required to join a group before they can see any posts. This is likely to cause confusion and require the user to complete another task before being able to see posts. Action 5: Click the link “your Group Member list”. 1. The user is forced to perform this task because it is a requirement of the site. The instruc- tions are clear and the user is aware to proceed to this action. 2. The link is clearly marked as a hyperlink. There should be no confusion finding this link. 3. The user is taken to a screen that can be confusing. The user can either type in a group (city) to join or they can use their Yahoo email address and join the group via Yahoo. The instructions are a bit confusing and provide too much text for a simple instruction. 4. The user may be confused by the instructions regarding the Yahoo group settings. There is a field located at the top of the My groups page that asks the user to “Find a group near you” This is a clearly marked text box where the user can type in a group (city). The instructions are poorly written and it is not completely clear as to what will happen next. Therefore, the user’s confidence level will be low. Action 6: Type in Chicago into the search box. 1. The user will know that they are to type in a city (Chicago) in the free form text box lo- cated at the top of the page. 2. Yes. There is a free form text box located at the top of the page. There are also directions provided to the user. 3. The user will understand that providing the city in the text box will take them to the next step on joining a group. 4. The user will be taken to a page of six Chicagoland locations. It is clearly marked that the user must select Chicago as their location, based on the buttons located in the Chi- cago table row. Action 7: Click the button that says “Go to Group Page” 1. Since the user is not inclined to join the group but see the group’s listings, the user will make the attempt to see the group’s data. 2. The button, “Go to Group Page” is clearly marked and easy to find for the user. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 22
    • 3. Based on the information on the button its self the user will feel confident that they are about to enter the Chicago group’s postings. 4. Once the user has selected the “Go to Group Page” the user is brought to ea page listing all offers and wanted. The user can manage the view of offers and wanted by selecting these tabs in the global navigation. The fact that the user is on the Chicago group page could be marked a little better, as there is a small title “Chicago” at the top of the page. Joe Goebel Task: Starting at the Chicago Freecycle Group page, the user will be evaluating the Search Posts function. Action 1: Click on the Search Posts button 1. Yes, the users will be trying to produce options for searching for posts, which is the re- sult of clicking on the Search Posts button. 2. The user may or may not see the control (search button) on the page because it is not called out in any way and it looks identical to the Make a New Post button, which is po- sitioned directly beside it. 3. The user may or may not recognize that the Search Posts button is, in fact, going to allow them to filter through the posts. Most users probably will, but some might be looking for a Browse Posts button or a search form. Some users may not expect that they will have the option to enter keywords and filter through posts by clicking this button. But most probably will. 4. Yes, once users click on the Search Posts button a dialog box opens allowing them to en- ter keywords, which will promote confidence that they can perform the next action of the task. Action 2: Enter Keywords in the Search Form 1. Yes, the users will be trying to enter relevant search terms that will be applied to their search criteria, which is the result of entering the keywords in the search form. 2. Users will see the form field labeled “Words to Look For” in the dialog box, but it may not be labeled effectively and users may not realize they can enter multiple keywords in the field. 3. Once users find the field, they may not recognize that this is where they can enter rele- vant keywords to narrow their search because the field is not labeled “keywords” and does not provide instructions for entering multiple keywords. 4. Yes, once users enter the keywords in the field they see them appear instantly and The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 23
    • ! should feel confident that those words will be applied to their search criteria. Action 3: Click the Search for Posts Button 1. Yes, users will be trying to view search results based on the criteria they entered when they click the Search for Posts button, which is the result of performing the action. 2. Yes, users will see the Search for Posts button in the dialog box because it is the only but- ton there, which suggests they should click it to reveal their search results. 3. Once users find the Search for Posts button they should recognize that it is going to di- rect them to new search results based on the criteria they entered in the dialog box. However at this point they have already clicked a different button with the same label, which could be confusing. 4. Once users click the Search for Posts button they will see the search results and recog- nize that they can click on a post to view more details. However there is no feedback to make the user feel confident the search criteria has been applied to the search results they are now looking at. Action 4: View More Details of a Post 1. By clicking on a post in the search results users will be trying to view more details of the post, which is the result of clicking on the title or the See Details link. 2. Users will see and recognize that they can click on the post title or the See Details link to see more details of the post because both links are bold and underlined. 3. Once users find the post title or the See Details link and hover over it, they will be able to recognize that they can click on either link to reveal more details of the post. 4. Once users click on the post title or the See Details link they will understand that they are now looking at the post in more detail because they are directed to a new page that only has information on the post they just clicked on. However if there is no way for the user to navigate back to the search results without clicking the browser’s back button, so they will not feel confident they know how to perform the next action. Action 5: Return to the Search Results 1. The users will be trying to navigate back to the search results, but since there is no link for this action they will be forced to use the browser’s back button, which essentially boots them out of the application. This is not the effect the user was expecting. 2. Users will not recognize how to navigate back to the search results because there is no link on the individual post page to do so. 3. There is no control on the page that allows the user to return to the search results so they will have to figure out that clicking the browser’s back button is the only way to perform the action. 4. Upon clicking the browser’s back button, users are presented with an error asking if The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 24
    • ! they would like to resubmit the form. A dialog box appears where they are required to ! ! take further action to reload the page and eventually will see the search results again. ! ! However since the search results do not identify any of the search terms the user en! ! tered, s/he may not feel confident their search criteria has still been applied. Joseph Howerton Task: Starting at the Chicago Freecycle Group page, the user will be evaluating the Search Posts function. Action 1: Click on the Search Posts button 1. Yes, the user will be trying to produce the effect of the action, click here to perform a search for stuff they want or need. 2. Yes and No, the navigation element, a button, for the search function, is found in the center of the pages. But this is still not an ideal position for it. We will touch on this in our recommendations. 3. Yes, if the user understands the purpose of this sight, then they will be able to relate to the design element, the Search Posts button. 4. Yes, the Search Posts dialogue box appears for the user to tailor their search, so the user should be clear on how to proceed to the next action, tailor search, with confidence. Action 2: Tailor a search using the search posts dialogue box 1. Yes, the user will see that they can add specifics to tailor their search 2. Yes, the dialogue box appears and is evident that the user can customize their search us- ing the given options. Though the user may be unclear on using the date boxes to tailor the search. 3. Yes, they can specify what they want to search for, and the Search for posts button is evident and clear. 4. Yes, the user will be able to see that they can tailor their search, and the next user action, click on Search for posts, is evident and clear. Action 3: Click on Search for posts 1. Yes, the user should understand that they will receive a list of items according to their search. Or they will receive a prompt/feedback that the search produced no results. 2. Yes, the Search for posts is in a location on the search dialogue box that is in keeping with best practice design patterns. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 25
    • 3. Yes, the user should understand that they need to simply click on the Search for posts button, and their expectation should be to see a list of results according to their search 4. Yes, the user will see the results and understand their next action will be to review the results and click on the specific item or the see details link. Action 4: Review display results and click on a specific item to view the details 1. Yes, the user should be clear that if they click on a specific item, they will receive the de- tails of that item. 2. Yes, if the user has conducted searches like this in the past, the will see the results of their search, and they will understand that they need to select an item by clicking on it. 3. Yes, the user should perceive that the control is supposed to click on a specific item to find out more information on it. 4. Yes, the feedback will be the search results that they have tailored. The next user action, select an item by clicking on it, or the see details link, will take them to a page with the specifics on that item. Action 5: Review the details of the item and reply to the items owner 1. Yes, the details page will present the user with information that they expect to see about the selected item. Also, they can place their reply to the owner of the item. Though there is no exit presented to the user to get back to the original search results. 2. Yes and No, the details page the user will see should meet their expectations, but (as stated) there is no clearly marked exit from this page to go back to the search results page. 3. Yes, the details page is clear and evident that the user can simply review the details and reply to the owner. 4. Yes and No, the feedback will be from the user clicking on the arrows to shuffle through the entries, but I think it may be confusing to them. Also, the user can click on reply to this post, which is clear and evident. But there is still no way to get back to the list of search results, so that may be confusing, until the user decides to just use the back but- ton. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 26
    • Appendix C: Detail Discussion of Cognitive Walkthrough We conducted cognitive walkthroughs of two of the primary functions/tasks of the Freecycle Chicago website. The functions/tasks included: • Sign up/become a member • Search Posts We had two team members conduct cognitive walkthroughs for each of the two tasks, to reveal any issues with the current state of the website. We were able to identify several deficiencies in the website by conducting these evaluations. Sign up/become a member This task reveals two major problems. One is the labeling and the other is the number of steps it takes just to return to the previous page the user was on before signing up. This labeling of us- ing site related jargon without providing some type of information explaining it can cause con- fusion with new user. Actions 4 - 7 could have been eliminated by redirecting the user back to their Chicago Freecycle page. Some of the confusion also could have been avoided with an email explaining some of the basic rules, terms, and giving instruction of basic function of the website. Search Posts Based on two evaluator’s assertions, this task reveals a few issues that should be addressed in our opinion. The location of the Search Posts button is not in keeping with best practice design patterns. We believe we can re-order the screen real estate in order to place the button in a more intuitive po- sition. The current location works, but if we have our way, we will include this new placement as part of a bigger re-design of the entire navigation schema. We would like to engage Freecycle in a complete re-design of the existing navigation structures. We believe that we can re-order the Search for posts dialogue box to be a global element to be found on each of the pages. In general, this dialogue box is in keeping with best practice design patterns, but since this is one of the most primary functions, we believe that structuring the dia- logue box elements into each page, would be of high value to our user community. Finally, when the user clicks on search for posts and selects a specific item from the results list, it takes the user to a page for the post. There is no clear exit from this page, e.g. a link that says back to search results, and the user has to use the back button to return to the results. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 27
    • Appendix D: Detail Recommendations 1.  The two global navigation schemas should be combined into one global navigation bar. Problem: Currently, there are two global navigation bars. The bars are visibly inconsistent. There are multiple states where both or only one navigation bar is visible. These states are in- consistent with the login states or page locations. The navigation menu bar at the very top of the page is out of sight for many users. It is not in keeping with design patterns, and the result is competing navigation schemas. The current site does not have a global navigation that is visible on every page. There is a navigation, but it only appears on some pages and those where it is not visible rely on the browser’s back button. This is inconsistent and confusing to the user. Solution: Navigation needs to be consolidated into one seamless global navigation schema and should be visible and available on every page no matter which tab is selected. We can add a global navigation schema that’s visible on every page and remove any redundant links that are in the current navigation. It would also be helpful to include links to all or most of the common tasks offered by the application. A global search field could also be implemented in the revised global navigation. Severity Rating: HIGH 2. Redesign the sign in/sign up forms and process Problem: The current site has one link for new users to sign up and for returning users to sign in. However when a user clicks this link the only option is to sign in by entering a username and password. In order for a user to access everything the site has to offer they need to sign up to create a new account and the current state of the application does not provide an easy way to do this. The user should be able to select their city from a drop down menu during the sign up process. This would eliminate erroneously discovering the necessity of joining a group pursuant to becoming a new user. Further, there is no communication between Freecycle and their users when they first sign-up, thus it is unclear that you have to wait for approval before you can post. Solution: Instead of combining the sign in/sign up forms as one link, there should be a sign in form on the homepage so returning users can login quickly. There should be a separate link lo- cated next to the sign in form to sign up, which would direct the user to a new page with a sim- ple sign up form. Also, they should have dialogue in the sign-up process that states you will have to wait for approval. And the system should contact users via e-mail upon completion of sign-up saying that they’ll have to wait to be approved as a user. And the sign up process should automate the selection of the user group a new user would like to be associated with. Severity Rating: HIGH The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 28
    • 3. Present or email new members How to Get Started Information Problem: A new user might find it confusing when they encounter a few of the websites naming conventions such as “Home Group” or referring to cities as groups. Another issue a new user will come across is that it is not clear that they need to set a home group before they can click through any of the Orange Tabs and see a city's information. Further, there is no communication between Freecycle and their users when they first sign-up, thus it is unclear that you have to wait for approval before you can post. Also new users are not aware that some cities groups are using Yahoo Groups instead of the Freecycle page. Solution: Email or present new members with How to Get Started with using the Freecycle website. The information can go over basic rules, instructions and conventions of the website. Severity Rating: HIGH The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 29
    • Appendix E: Reference 1. Freecycle Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from Freecycle Network: http://www.freecycle.org/about/background 2.  Nielsen, J. a. (1990). Heuristic Evaluation of User Interfaces. Retrieved from http://hci.cs.ait.ac.th/course/archives/nielsen-heuristic-chi90.pdf 3. Clayton, L. R. (1993). Task-Centered User Interface Design. http://hcibib.org/tcuid/chap-4.html#4-1-3. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 30
    • Appendix F: Member Contribution Team Member Contributions Team Member Contribution Goebel, Joe Heuristic Evaluation, Cognitive Walkthrough, Questions to Cognitive Walkthrough, Recommendations, Executive Summary, Application De- scription, Final review. Green, India Heuristic Evaluation, Cognitive Walkthrough, Questions to Cognitive Walkthrough, Recommendations, Master Reviewer, Document Format- ting & Design, Final review. Herrera, Jeri Heuristic Evaluation, Cognitive Walkthrough, Questions to Cognitive Walkthrough, Recommendations, Team Member’s Contributions, Summary Heuristic Evaluations, Compilation of Team Recommenda- tions for Appendix, Final review. Howerton, Joseph Heuristic Evaluation, Cognitive Walkthrough , Questions to Cognitive Walkthrough, Recommendations, Summary Cognitive Walkthrough, Master Summary of Heuristic Evaluation, Conclusion of Prioritized List, Discussion of Cognitive Walkthrough, Final review. The Freecycle TM Network Evaluation! HCI 460 Proje c t 1 31