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Writing Studio

Writing Studio



Presentation outlining recommendations from a usability study conducted for the Writing Studio (http://writing.colostate.edu). By Andrea L. Beaudin, Jeremy F. Huston, and Michael R. Trice

Presentation outlining recommendations from a usability study conducted for the Writing Studio (http://writing.colostate.edu). By Andrea L. Beaudin, Jeremy F. Huston, and Michael R. Trice



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  • Live Video Track Performance Task Surveys Record User Reflection Eye-tracking Trace Focus Input Tracking Calculate Steps Taken Error Tracking Calculate Task Difficulty User Comments Track Impromptu Thoughts Retrospective Recall Gather Overall Reflections
  • Participants were 4 male 1 female first-year comp students at Tech between 17-21. No experience with WS, but experience with Blackboard. They self-reported their comfort with Blackboard between 3 and 4 on a scale of 1 (not confident) to 5 (highly confident). They write online at least weekly; all use facebook and email.
  • 46 navigation elements on page Graphic icons, tabs, drop down menus, buttons, text links, search box, breadcrumbs
  • Blog navigation usability and accessibility issue
  • Increase white space!

Writing Studio Writing Studio Presentation Transcript

  • The Writing Studio A Usability Analysis Report Andrea L. Beaudin ▪ Jeremy F. Huston ▪ Michael R. Trice Texas Tech University
  • Report Overview
    • Study Purpose and Goals
    • Methodology
    • Results and Analysis
    • Recommendations
  • Study Purpose and Goals
  • Client Purpose and Goals
    • Client Purpose
      • Determine usability of profile page navigation of the Writing Studio
      • Identify areas where usability could be improved
    • Client Goals
      • Increase effectiveness of site navigational elements for users
      • Increase comprehension of individual navigational elements on website
      • Make the interface familiar and usable for users of popular social media
  • Study Purpose and Goals
    • Study Purpose
      • Determine what areas of the profile page are the most/least memorable, error-prone, efficient, and learnable
    • Study Goals
      • Determine whether the navigation on the profile page is intuitive
      • Investigate what navigational components may be leading to and increasing the frequency of errors, and determining recoverability of those errors
      • Determine the learnability of specific functions (creating blogs and e-portfolios) performed from the profile page
      • Evaluate comparative cognitive load across tasks
  • User Profiles
    • Multiple Users
      • Students
        • 17-21 year-old first-year students (first-time users)
        • 22+ year-old first-year students (first-time users)
        • High school students (first-time users)
        • Intermediate users (1 year experience)
        • Expert users (2+ years experience)
      • Instructors
        • Novice/Beginner
        • Intermediate
        • Expert
      • Writers not affiliated with classes
  • Methodology
    • MEELS ▪ Procedures ▪ Participants ▪ Tasks
    • M emorability
      • If a user has used the system before, can he or she remember enough to use it effectively the next time or does the user have to start over again learning everything?
    • E fficiency
      • Once an experienced user has learned to use the system, how fast can he or she accomplish tasks?
    • E rrors
      • How often do users make errors while using the system, how serious are these errors, and how do users recover from these errors?
    • L earnability
      • How fast can a user who has never seen the user interface before learn it sufficiently well to accomplish basic tasks?
    • S atisfaction
      • How much does the user like using the system?
  • Procedures
    • Testing Environment:
      • TTU Usability Lab
      • Morae
        • Mouse tracking
        • Click measurement
        • Task time
        • Screen capture
        • Video
        • Survey administration
      • Eye tracking
      • Retrospective Recall
    • System Software:
      • Windows XP
      • Firefox
    • Research Roles:
      • Facilitator
      • Observer
      • Note Taker
    • Measures for Optimal Use
      • Mouse clicks
      • Task time
  • Participants
      • Solicited via email and class invitation
      • 5 first-year full-time FYC students at Texas Tech
      • 4 males, 1 female
      • 17-21 years old
      • No experience with Writing Studio
      • All Blackboard CMS users
        • On a scale of 5 (highly confident) to 1 (not confident at all) rated CMS confidence between 4 (40%) and 3 (60%) self-reported comfort level with CMS
      • Online Writing Frequency
        • Weekly (60%)
        • Daily (40%)
      • Online Writing Spaces
        • All used Facebook and Email
        • One indicated blogs; another listed Comment Fields
  • Tasks Task Purpose 1 Create user account Establish user in system Determine usability of account creation process 2 Create profile with image Introduce user to My Page interface Measure navigation and functionality 3 Create blog Navigation Evaluate comparative cognitive load 4 Create blog entry Navigation Measure memorability and learnability Evaluate comparative cognitive load 5 Check/Change Password (repetitive task) Navigation Measure memorability and learnability Evaluate comparative cognitive load 6 Create ePortfolio (repetitive task) Navigation Measure memorability and learnability
  • Results and Analysis
    • Navigation ▪ Functionality ▪ Design
  • Navigation
    • 60% of users resulted to using the back button to return to the main page during at least one task.
    • 40% of users closed the profile setting options before creating a profile.
    • On average, changing a password took 3 extra steps and a full minute longer than expected.
    • Eye-tracking data and quotes suggest users were confused by lack of conventional navigation structure along left sidebar and horizontal headings.
    • Eye tracking suggests that although users initially followed the standard “F” pattern for scanning the page (Task 1 and the beginning of Task 2), by the end of the test, there was no discernible focus area. Users were looking everywhere on the screen to complete tasks.
    • Users performed best at creating blogs and ePortfolios. Task times were within 30 seconds and 20 seconds of optimal range for each, respectively.
    • No users made use of the search box
    • 60% of users rated profile creation either “difficult” or “very difficult”
    User Quote: Functionality — User 6 “ The hardest part was finding where to go to create the profile.” — User 3
  • Design 4 links 10 drop down menus 5 graphic icons 9 graphic icons 8 tabs 2 links 2 buttons search box icon link 2 breadcrumbs
  • Design: Clicks per Task
  • Design — User 3
  • Recommendations
    • Navigation ▪ Functionality ▪ Design
  • Navigation
    • Simplify navigation with context sensitive menus
    • Or conceptually group navigational elements
    • Cluster navigational elements on left of page
    • Offer direct navigation to profile page and class page from blogs
  • Functionality
    • Option to hide elements:
      • Add a reset button
      • Or “return to default”
    • Make link styles more uniform
    • Correct upload issues with user photos (fixed?)
    • Add webcam option for photo upload
    • Rename “Password” to “New Password”; move “Current Password” field above “New Password”
  • Design 5 graphic icons 9 graphic icons 8 tabs 2 links 2 buttons icon Users looking for a more “Facebook” type navigation
  • Design
  • Conclusion
    • Navigation ▪ Functionality ▪ Design
  • Conclusions
    • Writing Studio offers a full suite of options to writers and provides a “bottom up” model for writing instruction.
    • The platform provides a great deal of control for users / students
    • Based on user testing, minor design/ navigation tweaks could increase the usability of the site
  • Addendum
    • Following Up
  • Following Up
    • After the initial presentation, Mike Palmquist instituted major changes to site, including security updates, feature redesigns, and a server upgrade. Most notable, however, was the site redesign, particularly of the Personal Page.
  • Following Up
    • “ Some of the most visible changes to the site include a major upgrade to the Personal Pages as well as to the management pages for our classes, wikis, and writing tools. We've dropped the tabbed interface on our pages and replaced it with a simpler and (we hope) easier to use set of links. We've also worked to eliminate the drop-down menus that we used so extensively in the past.”
    • — Mike Palmquist, “Writing Studio News and Updates”
  • Following Up: Redesigned Page
    • New page is considerably streamlined
    • Personal Page menu options have been moved to right
    • Content (dependent upon menu choice) appears below profile
  • Thank You
    • Usability testing can identify situations and potential problems; the key is what to do with the information once the testing is done. Mike Palmquist worked with our recommendations to implement a redesign that was not altogether radical (so that more experienced users would not be disoriented), but is clearly more streamlined and user-friendly. The changes are subtle, yet effective.
    • We wish to thank Mike Palmquist and all those involved with the Writing Studio for their support and receptiveness.