Kelly saleh howey_proposal


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Research project, proposed, conducted, and reported on a usability study and evaluation of a website. Usability testing involves testing products, documentation, texts, or websites to see if they meet the needs of their users.

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Kelly saleh howey_proposal

  1. 1. MEMOTo: Annabelle Fournier Date: February 25, 2013From: Tarek Saleh, Michael Kelly, and Patrick Howey, COMS 363Subject: Proposal for a usability study of the Oracle Peoplesoft Student CentreIntroduction and BackgroundThe purpose of this research project is to provide an analysis of the OraclePeopleSoft Enterprise. Oracle is a program used at the University of Calgary forvarious student and faculty functions. In order to access this program, a user mustbe registered with the University of Calgary, and must log on with their eID Students can use this program to perform activities likeenrolling in classes, paying fees, and locating information regarding grades andstudent transcripts. Since Oracle was introduced to the University of Calgary in2007, there has been a high volume of staff and students that use this program togather information through the various functions. There are many current users ofthe program, including students and faculty members, which is why a usabilitystudy is crucial.The student centre is a highly used website so it is important to find any problemswith that arise or make desired improvements. Potential problems need to berecognized and fixed so that users can be satisfied with the system. If users areconfused by the website, they will become frustrated and establish a negative viewtowards the system. If the university wants to keep its students content, then itneeds to be aware of any faults of the system. Students complained about thesystem when it was first implemented because numerous problems arose. Thiscaused stress on the students as well as the support staff. This website was createdto lower the need for assistance and increase the efficiency of information transfer.If problems arise the student centre can become a website that both students andfaculty avoid. The student centre was originally created to save the universitymoney, but if problems persist, the website can end up being costly.The information gathered from the usability study will be used to create a finalreport. This report will include and explain all of the findings of the research. Tocreate a visual demonstration of some of the aspects found, a PowerPointpresentation will be created.Usability Criteria:Usability tests of documents are designed to answer questions such as these: Howeasily could users retrieve the relevant information? Have all the essential stepsbeen included? Does every step that needs a visual have a visual? (Graves & Graves2012). Usability tests are used to determine the functionality of a document or
  2. 2. webpage. Asking potential users to perform the activities on the webpage willprovide researchers with an idea of what functions on the webpage can beimproved. The following usability test will explore three elements of the studentcenter website. These elements include: the navigational tools, the visual design,and the use of multimedia and graphics on the webpage.Navigational ToolsNavigational tools are key elements on a webpage, such as the student center, thathas little content to it. These tools need to be evaluated in the usability test becausethey allow students to efficiently move throughout the webpage in order to obtaintheir desired information. If the navigational tools are ineffective users may becomeeasily frustrated and pursue other options to retrieve information. Effectivewebsites should follow the “Three-Click Rule” which states that users should ideallybe able to reach their intended destination within three mouse clicks (Zeldman,2001). A good search engine ensures that potential users who visit the studentcenter will easily be able to obtain the information they require.Visual DesignGraves & Graves (2012) outline the following five strategies that webpage designerscan use to create an effective webpage; divide the screen into functional areas,group related items, guide users’ eye movements, put action areas near where userswill look for them, and use consistent design throughout the site. For a webpagethat requires a navigational tool such as the student center the navigational buttonthat takes users to the next step should appear right after the last step in the process(Graves & Graves 2012). This design will allow students to naturally movethroughout the webpage in an efficient manner. Establishing an effective web designis crucial for the efficiency of a website and can eliminate the frustration users feelwhen they visit an unorganized webpage. Appropriate design elements will increasethe usability of virtually all sites (Nielsen, 1999).Multimedia and GraphicsOnline reading is unpleasant because of the eyestrain produced from the relativelypoor resolution of the screen (Graves & Graves, 2012). Reducing the amount of textand replacing it with appropriate graphics will decrease the reading load for users.In order to decrease the text on a site, visuals must be attractive and provide conciseinformation. For the website being evaluated, users will see a decrease in theirreading through the use of graphics, images, and other multimedia types. Whenused effectively, multimedia and graphics can contribute to the user friendliness andoverall success of the webpage.Proposed Research Methods:For the analysis of PeopleSoft Student Center, the primary source of research willcome from two usability tests, including a web-based usability survey and an in-person usability test. Using primary research the researchers will analyze theUniversity of Calgary PeopleSoft Program based upon the evaluation criteriaestablished. For secondary research the researchers will not only use the course
  3. 3. textbook, (Graves, H. & Graves, R., A Strategic Guide to Technical Communication) butthe team will also utilize published research relevant to the analysis of PeopleSoft’sweb design. The researchers will examine PeopleSoft to determine if it employs thebest methods of presenting information, while considering their primary audienceof students.Usability SurveyTo evaluate the usability of the University of Calgary program, the researchers willadminister a survey. Coms 363 students will be used for research purposes, becausethey have experience using PeopleSoft Student Center. If the respondents have hadany problems with PeopleSoft or they would like to give some feedback, they can doso through the survey. A feedback section will be useful to include, so that theparticipants can leave additional information about problems they have noticed. Bycreating this survey we will be able to answer our predetermined questions,regarding the usability of PeopleSoft by using its primary audience as respondents.By testing this group of students accurate results will be achieved as to how usefulthe website is. For better data analysis a large participant group is necessary,therefore the entire Coms 363 class will be emailed. Testing a large group ofrespondents will allow for more precise results. In the mass email it is crucial thatthe researchers adhere to ethical guidelines.Researchers will use SurveyMonkey, an online survey tool website where a surveywill be created and administrated regarding PeopleSoft. The survey will focus on theparticipants’ attitudes regarding the textual components of the website. Using theComs 363 student e-mail list provided on Blackboard, the questionnaire will be sent,via a link to SurveyMonkey, and the student’s will be asked to participate in thesurvey. By using SurveyMonkey, we will be able to administer a survey of 10questions that provide instant and anonymous results. Refer to Appendix A for adraft survey.Usability TestThe second usability study will be completed by an in-person usability test. We willrecruit 5 volunteer testers through a mass e-mail to all Coms 363 student users. Wewill be conducting our test in the Scurfield Hall Computer Lab 105. We will have ourtesters complete a number of assigned tasks that will provide us with accurateresearch results on the usability of the University of Calgary PeopleSoft StudentCenter website. During the test, our group will be observing the testers completeeach task. These volunteers will then complete a post-test questionnaire. Refer toAppendix B for a draft set of usability test instructionsEthical considerationsEvery email we send to the respondents will include a link to our survey, as well as astatement of our research ethics obligations asserting that all completed surveyswill remain anonymous. No names will be connected to any of the responses thatresult from participation in the survey. Survey Monkey is a safe and secure websitethat is password protected. All of the information gathered will be stored for six
  4. 4. months and then properly discarded. To comply with the University of Calgaryresearch ethics guidelines, a consent letter will be provided to all participants beforecompleting the in-person usability study (refer to Appendix C).Task Timeline: Task Start Date Completion DateFinalize, Review, and PostSurvey February 25th March 1stBegin, and CreatePowerPoint Presentation March 1st March 8thdraftCreate Final Report Outline March 7th March 12thClose Survey, Complete In-Person Usability Test March 12th March 15thAnalyze Survey and In-Person Results March 15th March 19thRevise, Finalize, and SubmitPowerPoint Presentation March 19th March 25thCreate First Draft of FinalReport March 22nd March 28thEdit First Draft of FinalReport March 28th March 31stCreate Second Draft of FinalReport March 31st April 5thRevise, Finalize, Submit FinalReport April 9th April 16thConclusion Our report will benefit many users of the website. A lot of users of PeopleSoft Student Center find it very difficult and at times frustrating to use. This frustration causes users to avoid the web site, finding different methods of information gathering. The whole purpose of the site is to make users’ student lives a lot easier, registering for classes, checking grades, and paying tuition for example. Unfortunately many problems have been documented, for example students unable to register for classes. The University of Calgary needs to be educated of any problems users are having so they can fix these problems and run an efficient program. It is because of these frustrations that it is a good idea to see what other parts of the website has problems. This research project will benefit the University of Calgary by them receiving valuable feedback as to how well their website is functioning.
  5. 5. Reference ListGraves, H., & Graves, R. (2012). Chapter 12. A strategic guide to technical communication (pp.279-300). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.Zeldman, J. (2001). Taking your talent to the web: a guide for the transitioning designer. Retrieved February 22, 2013 from: now-a-free-downloadable-book-from-zeldmancom/.Nielson, J. (1999). 10 good deeds in web design. Retrieved February 22, 2013 from: of Calgary, (n.d.) PeopleSoft Student Center. Retrieved February 15, 2013, from
  6. 6. Appendix ADraft of Online Usability SurveyThe following is a draft survey and will appear with different formatting onceuploaded to 1. Please login to your and proceed to the student centre. Once you have reached the student centre page comment on your initial reaction to the visual design of the page. 2. Were you able to locate the navigational feature? a. Yes b. No 3. Please select the navigational drop down menu and select the ‘Enrollment: Add’ option. Once you have reached this section search for Coms363 class. Comment on the process that you took to find the correct class. 4. Approximately how many clicks did it take you to reach the Coms363 class? a. 2 or less b. 3-4 c. 5 or more 5. Please return to the student centre homepage, how did you complete this task? 6. The level of images and graphics presented on the student centre website is: a. Appropriate b. Lacking c. Too much d. Non-Existent 7. Does the font size on the website contribute to the user friendliness of the website? a. Yes b. No 8. Scroll down the homepage to the personal information section. Which of the following is not an option given to users? a. Addresses
  7. 7. b. Email addresses c. Account Inquiry d. Honors and Awards e. Phone Numbers9. Comment on your overall impression of the available navigational tools.10. If a student encounters a problem with the student centre is the help link easily noticed? a. Yes b. No
  8. 8. Appendix BDraft of In-Person Usability TestAge:Concentration:Visits to the student centrewebsite per week (approx):Part 1: Please login to your and proceed to the student centre. Use youropinions on the student centre website to answer the following questions with an (X). Strongly Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Disagree AgreeThe color scheme anddesign is effectiveThe navigational tools areeasy to find and useThe student centre uses anappropriate amount ofgraphics and multimediaThe font size and style iseasy to readPart 2: Please rate the following functions on the student centre website from easiest to mostdifficult (1-easiest, 5-most difficult) 1 2 3 4 5Searching for a classEditing personalinformationMake a paymentObtain personal gradesView your current classschedulePart 3: Please answer the following question with a few commentsWhat can the student centre website do to improve the functionality of the site?
  9. 9. Appendix CFebruary 22,2013Usability Study of the Oracle Peoplesoft Student CentreTarek Saleh, Michael Kelly, and Patrick HoweyDear Participant:Thank you for agreeing to participate in my research project Usability Study ofthe Oracle Peoplesoft Student Centre, which I am completing as part of mycourse in Professional and Technical Communication (COMS 363) at theUniversity of Calgary. This consent form, a copy of which has been given to you,is only part of the process of informed consent. It should give you an idea ofwhat the project is about and what your participation will involve. If you wouldlike more detail about something mentioned here, or information not includedhere, you should feel free to ask. Please take the time to read this carefully andto understand any accompanying information.Purpose of study: The goal of the project is to assess the usability of the websitePeopleSoft Student CenterYour participation in the study: Your participation will involve participating in ausability test.Publication of results: Your interview, and any other material I collect, will beused as the basis for a PowerPoint presentation and a final report. Normally onlymy instructor and teaching assistant will see the final products. However, somereports may be posted on Blackboard for as examples for next year’s students. Itmay also be shared with the organization responsible for the website being studied.Risk to you: Since your personal information will be anonymous and confidential,there are no risks to you beyond those normally encountered in everyday life.Informed consent: Before we can begin the usability study I need your informedconsent. You can provide this by reading and signing this form. Your participation isentirely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time during the usability study. Ifyou withdraw, any material collected during my contact with you will destroyedand will not be used in any way in the analysis and writing of the research results.You are free to request more information about the study and you are also free torefuse to answer any specific questions during the interview.Confidentiality and anonymity: Any information collected will remain anonymousand confidential. Names, identities will be disguised in my submitted assignment,and care will be taken to ensure that any descriptions of situations or direct
  10. 10. quotations cannot be connected to you. If you wish, you may choose your ownpseudonym; if not, one will be assigned or you will be referred to simply as “arespondent,” as appropriate.Storage of materials: All materials, including recordings, transcripts ofrecordings, and any notes I (or my group) might make, will remainconfidential. Only I (or my group) plus the course instructor will be able toaccess that information. Any research notes and consent forms will be storedfor two years under lock and key, including during the data collection phase.Your signature on this form indicates that you have understood to yoursatisfaction the information regarding participation in the research projectand agree to participate as a subject. In no way does this waive your legalrights nor release the investigator or the university from their legal andprofessional responsibilities. You are free to request more information aboutthe study or to withdraw from it at any time, and you are also free to refuseto answer any specific questions during the interview. Your continuedparticipation should be as informed as your initial consent, so you should feelfree to ask for clarification or new information throughout yourparticipation. If you have further questions concerning matters related tothis research, please contact me at,, or or the instructorof COMS 363, Dr. Doug Brent, or by phone at 403-220-5458. If you have any issues or concerns about this project that are notrelated to the specifics of the research, you may also contact the Senior EthicsResource Officer, Research Services Office, University of Calgary, at (403)220-3782, Do you agree to participate in the studyaccording to the conditions outlined above? YES NO2. Do you want to choose your own pseudonym? YES NOIf yes, please enter it here: _______________________3. May I record our interview? YES NOParticipant’s Signature__________________________ Date_________________Investigator’s Signature_________________________ Date_________________