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uPortal Walkthroughs

The uPortal team's focus is the evaluation of the uPortal product. We will be engaging in a process similar to that pursued by the other teams, but at the same time acknowledging the unique aspects of the service a portal offers to its users. Our objective will be to have something concrete to report at the Fluid Summit at the end of September. It will therefore be necessary to carefully scope our activities, selecting chunks of functionality we can investigate an report on. The goal is for the subgroups for Sakai, Moodle and uPortal to come together with our first phase evaluations in Toronto to look across the work to identify pain points that may be improved through the creation of components.

Related Material

Some reflections on issues central to content management in a portal can be found in Content Management - uPortal Usability and Accessibility.



Ongoing uPortal Walkthrough Subgroup Discussions

Project Plan & Timelines


Time Estimate

Due Date

Complete a short list of personas


8/24/07 (question)

Create a short list of scenarios


8/24/07 (question)

Select target implementations of uPortal and acquire courtesy (guest?) accounts


8/24/07 (question)

Review and freeze heuristic principles and walkthrough objectives


8/31/07 (question)

Finalize Report Template


8/31/07 (question)

Determine accessibility measures and tools (screenreader?)


8/31/07 (question)

Assign evaluation activities (usability, accessibility, walkthrough)


8/31/07 (question)

Evaluation (usability, accessibility, walkthroughs, create raw individual reports)


9/14/07 (question)

Screen Reader Evaluation (including report)


9/14/07 (question)

Write Summary Report (synthesize individuals)


9/24/07 (question)

Presentation for Summit?


9/24/07 (question)


5 weeks

uPortal Personas

Personas give us the ability to emulate representative users of users. While a persona may not have exactly the same characteristics as any actual user, it provides us with a benchmark of goals, desires, needs, intentions, and behaviour of a population we want to serve. All persona descriptions should be backed up by research data derived from observations of real populations. They should not be simply imagined stereotypes.

A set of example personas can be found in the uPortal pages of the JA-SIG wiki. The Sakai Personas created for the Sakai walkthroughs may also be useful in the uPortal investigations.

We chose to focus on personas with intermediate experience/skills in Sakai for the Sakai walk-throughs, as that is the stage we hypothesized most users would be in. In the portal environment, it may make sense to focus on newer users as I don't think the interactions they have with the portal are generally as complex as they are in Sakai.

uPortal Content Management Scenarios

Scenarios are descriptions of user activities, performed within a defined context, in pursuit of a particular objective. In our walkthroughs, we will focus more on the task, and how the user goes about it, than the achievement of the objective. Our purpose to to capture details of the experience of the task and find commonalities. See also the Sakai team's Content Management Scenarios page.

Question: Do we need detailed scenarios or just scenario "titles"? We just used "Titles" in the Sakai CM scenarios, as we wanted to discover what option a user chose to solve a particular problem and not prescribe explicit tasks. It may be that the tasks are more "black & white" in uPortal, but it may help to think about whether we want to answer the following research questions:

  • Can users even begin to figure out how to solve a particular problem without giving them specific steps to follow?
  • Are there situations where users can choose from multiple options to achieve a goal? If so, are we interested to see which choice the user makes (e.g. is there a "better" way to do something users just didn't know about)? 

uPortal Content Management Scenarios

Target Instance of uPortal for Evaluation

Evaluations will be performed on existing uPortal implementations selected by the team. In most cases it will be necessary to obtain courtesy accounts for the target services; in some cases demo accounts may suffice. Please add suggestions to the following list.

uPortal Reporting Template

Will we use the same Report Template used in the Sakai walk-throughs? Or should this be modified in some way?


The uPortal Walk-through group meets as needed.

Next Meeting: Tuesday, Sept 4th, 2007, 10AM PDT / 13:00 EDT

Breeze Videoconference:

Back-up plan if Breeze doesn't work:
Local Dial-in number: 416-406-5118
Conference ID: 5220834


  • Scenarios and their goals
  • Target testbeds: myUBC? Unicon? Others?
  • Experimental walkthroughs
  • Formal walkthroughs
  • Who wants to do what
  • Collaborative exercises
  • Distributing the work
  • Scheduling the walkthroughs
  • Recording
  • Logistics
  • Next meeting
  • No labels