User Experience Inspections of uPortal, Moodle, Sakai
(Usability and accessibility Heuristic Evaluationsand Cognitive Walkthroughs)
One of the first design activities we are working on in the Fluid project is to identify current user "pain points" by performing heuristic evaluation and cognitive walk-throughs of uPortal, Sakai and Moodle.
"Heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap, and easy evaluation of a user interface design" (Jacob Nielson, http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/). Design, usability, and accessibility experts will engage in systematic inspections of the the user interface with the goal of identifying usability and accessibility problems based on recognized principles ("heuristics"). Our particular technique will combine heuristic evaluations with cognitive walk-throughs of the user interface so that we also look at expected user flows through the system and identify potential work flow problems. Heuristic evaluation isn't, however, meant to be a replacement for watching real users' activity on a system, so we intend to use heuristics in conjunction with user testing.
These evaluations will help us identify areas of the user interface that are most in need of improvement. We can thus prioritize our work on the most important usability and accessibility problems. Based on the findings of these evaluations, we will focus on UI issues that can be solved by designing well-tested, user-centered UI components. These components will encompass common interactions that can be reused within and across community source applications. On the other hand, we don't expect that all problems can be solved by creating UI components. We'll also ensure that findings and identified solutions outside the component realm will be shared with the communities. Heuristic evaluations and walk-throughs will identify areas of focus; we will engage in solid user-centered design practices and user testing to create the right solution.
The working list of heuristics and cognitive walk-through questions for the Fluid project is being compiled at the User Experience Inspection wiki page. We welcome your input, and would very much appreciate additional volunteers to help with the evaluation process.
The checklist is organic and will continue to be refined as we learn from doing the hybrid evaluations.
"To Do" list - User Experience Inspection Protocol
As a group:
- DONE - Create list of usabilty accessibility heuristics - use draft list to get started. In the spirit of agile, we'll refactor the list as we learn from the experience of combining the usability and accesibiliy heuristics and the cognitive walkthrough methods
- Agree on evaluation reporting format
Within the "application" teams:
- Agree on user profiles
Evaluation Process (draft)
Assumptions: Protocol has been created
- Break application into "chunks" for evaluation (highest priority areas first)
- Create usage scenarios for cognitive walkthroughs
- Individual evaluation by 3 - 5 evaluators
- Synthesize and prioritize findings
- Brainstorm design session (identify conceptual solutions to high priority issues). Are there good component candidates?
- Write and share out report
- Incorporate findings into community (some will drive component development - others can be used for general product development in the communities)
- Sakai - Integrate into requirements group. Do we need to create jira tickets? Are these really "design bugs" conceptually and thus have a different status than requirements?
- Moodle - how does this get fed back into the process?
- uPortal - how do we integrate into their requirements process? Deliver findings to the community?
- Look for pain across applications? Are there issues a component(s) can address well?
Heuristic evaluation & Cognitive walkthrough reference material:
Jacob Nielsen'sdescription and overview
Applying Heuristics to Perform a Rigorous Accessibility Inspection in a Commercial Context
Heuristic Evaluation Report Example
Usability Heuristic checklistsAccessibility Heuristic checklists