What are Fluid UX Walkthroughs?

Fluid UX Walkthroughs are a combination of usability and accessibility reviews of Fluid partner applications, with the goal of identifying user "pain points," and then proposing and prioritizing user interface improvements to address them. Read more about UX Walkthroughs

Evaluations are conducted as:

  • heuristic evaluations - comparing the user interface against an accepted set of "rules" or heuristics.
  • cognitive walkthroughs - determining how easy it is for a user to use the application.
  • Code convention compliance reviews - evaluating compliance to a set of best practices for achieving accessibility and usability.

How are Fluid UX Walkthroughs Performed?

Fluid UX Walkthroughs are performed by reviewers with diverse areas of expertise residing at a number of different institutions. To ensure consistency of approach and results the following material has been created to guide their efforts.

The protocols and guidelines will continue to be refined as we learn from doing the hybrid inspections/evaluations.

Fluid Project Walkthroughs and Working Groups

Within the Fluid Project, walkthroughs have been performed by walkthrough working groups. Most of the groups have had representatives from two or more institutions, with each group focused on a specific product.
Products examined so far include uPortal, Sakai, and Moodle.

Results from Previous Walkthroughs

UX Walkthrough Results:

You can find links to the results of all UX Walkthroughs on this page. This includes the Pre-Summit and Post-Summit walkthrough results.

UX Walkthrough Project Plan

User Experience Walkthroughs are used in the Fluid project to evaluate and assess the usability and accessibility of the products addressed by the project. The objective is to identify user problematics (pain points) which can be addressed by user interface software solutions and enhanced design approaches.

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  1. Since we are addressing Web 2.0 style applications, we need to think beyond basic web accessibility and look at interoperability. We must also look at ensuring we have a common style guide for keyboard navigation. This is something we did not have to worry about with basic HTML pages. So, ...

    1.  Ensure all web componentry maps directly through the accessibility interoperability layer in the browser (MSAA, IAccessible2, DOM), etc. For For Firefox 3 this will be IAccessible2 and MSAA on Windows. On Linux systems this will be ATK. The accessibility markup for each component must be mapped to the platform accessibility API in such a way that it matches the mapping found in desktop applications.
    2. Ensure all web applications are interoperable and usable with designated assistive technologies
    3. Establish standard consistent section landmarks (regions on a page) which must be adhered to across all content
      (ARIA supplies standard navigation section landmarks). Examples: main, navigation, secondary, contentinfo, etc. from http://www.w3.org/TR/2006/WD-xhtml-role-20061113/#s_role_module_attributes which shall be part of the ARIA specifications. For specialized regions, use the ARIA role of region. Each region must have an associated title.
    4. Adhere to a common keyboard navigation style guide for all UI widgets on a page. (Note: this work has already been started in the W3C but is slow moving). We need standard keyboard navigation rules for any widgets used on a page which do not interfere with assistive technologies or the keyboard navigation defined by the browser.
    5. Ensure that all web pages are usable when graphics are turned off in the browser or operating system.
  2. Folks asked for some background reading regarding accessiblity. Here are some links to get started:
    - IBM's external accessiblity web site: http://www.ibm.com/able/
    - Shawn Henry's book on integrating accessiblity into technology development and UCD: http://www.uiaccess.com/justask/
    - IBM's white paper on considerations for doing user evaluations with people with disabilities: http://www-03.ibm.com/able/resources/userevaluations.html
    - Greg Venderheiden's TRACE Research Center: http://trace.wisc.edu/
    - The W3C's Web Accessiblity Initiative: http://www.w3.org/WAI/
    - The US Access Board home page on Section 508, their Electronic and Information Technology accessiblity standards: http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm
    The above sites have links to a great deal of additional reference material.

  3. As mentioned just now at the BOF, we've done a fairly thorough Evaluation of our Portal (Myportico) at Guelph.  The results of this are available from our Portal welcome page: http://myportico.uoguelph.ca, click on MyPortico Evaluation Committee.

     Full URL is: https://myportico.uoguelph.ca/portal/html/myportico/ccs/logindocs/MyPEC_FinalReport.pdf

     The reports are a bit dated, but many of the things (especially in the Heuristics sections) are self evident.  We've fixed many of the things reported, of course, but it can still be useful.  The personas are also valuable.  If you put a page up with each of the documents of interest, I can edit that page, and give a short explantation of each report.  Send me an email at gbos@uoguelph.ca if you're interested in that.