human computer interaction

human computer interaction

Assignment 2: Evaluate a recent web community site

Many web sites today encourage a web community, e.g. social bookmarks, academia, Twitter. HCI is important in the success of such sites, as users who don’t enjoy their experiences don’t come back. Web sites that attract and keep people are called “sticky”. The site you choose must be confirmed by your instructor to already have an active community not over 100,0000, i.e. do not choose already highly successful websites like Facebook. Choose one that is just getting started, i.e. one that might ask you for an evaluation! If you choose one that is too good you may lose the points given for finding problems.

You have been asked by its owners to evaluate it and suggest improvements. Write a professional report of up to 3000 words, that covers both technical and HCI aspects. The brief template below shows how to layout a report.

Report Template
(meaningful title in Times New Roman Bold 16 pt)

Authors names and emails (i.e. of your group)

Abstract (up to 200 words) [Abstract heading is Times New Roman (TNR) 14 Bold. Text is TNR 11 Italics]

Summarize your report: a sentence to explain the topic, a sentence to say why it is important and a short summary of what you found and finally any conclusions or recommendations.

Introduce the system (about 500 words)
Describe who the system’s intended users are and why they will use this software, i.e. indicate the stakeholders and their motives.

Describe in general terms what the system aims to do and the main services it offers. Give a link to the system and three links to similar other systems.

Describe in general terms the HCI interaction structure, including the menus or controls the user sees, how they navigate the site (e.g. by tabs), how it identifies users (and any roles), how user feedback is given, any multi-media, and anything else relevant.

Do not get into too much detail at this point – just an overview of the system, with some screenshots (more detail is given in the next section).

[Main headings are TNR 14 Bold. Text is TNR 12, justified. Sub headings are TNR 12 Bold]

Define your evaluation criteria (about 1000 words)
Based on the type of system and users suggest:
1. 5-7 relevant technical requirements that you expect to be important for this system. These could be: that functions work, response times, that links work, add-on extendibility, security, reliability (errors), flexibility (options available), connectivity (downloads available), compatibility (try on different platforms, e.g. IE, Mozilla, mobile, IPod,), etc. What is chosen will vary for each site. Define Excellent, Good, Adequate, Limited and Weak values for each criteria.
2. 5-7 relevant HCI requirements that you expect to be important for these users, e.g. things like managing attention, use of colour, emotional appeal, allows participation, easy to understand, fast feedback, has an overview, easy to navigate, menu lengths etc. It will vary for each site again. Define Excellent, Good, Adequate, Limited and Weak values for each criteria.
Note: your requirements must be important, relevant and valid for this system. Don’t just copy the above. Brainstorm and critique in your group!
Your evaluation results (about 1000 words)
Describe the results of your evaluation:
1. Technical performance. Discuss how the system performs for each requirement, and cite a Figure screenshot (numbered and titled) to illustrate. A technical evaluation should include that all software functions work as expected, including buttons and menu option combinations, so that should be one of your requirements. If you find a bug, describe it with a numbered and titled Figure of it. Compatibility problems are also usually part of any technical web system evaluation. Again illustrate with screenshot comparisons.
2. HCI performance. A system may perform well technically, say with powerful functions that are reliable and secure, but still not perform well on an HCI level. Discuss how the system performs for each criteria and cite a Figure screenshot (numbered and titled) to illustrate. An HCI evaluation checks that people can actually use the system as intended, in all its aspects. An HCI “bug” is when people misunderstand or don’t understand what to do. Rate the system’s overall HCI performance based on your chosen criteria.
3. Summary. Rate the system’s overall technical performance based on how it satisfies your chosen requirements. Be consistent. Do the same for HCI performance. Combine these and rate the system overall – based on your requirements.
Your ratings should not be all good nor all bad. If you choose a system that is too good and so do not find any valid problems, you will lose points here. For each rating, give reasons and screenshots to justify your evaluation.

Sub headings The report needs sub-headings to break up the text and guide the reader. Give any sub-heading a meaningful name, as a report’s heading structure is an important part of its quality and effectiveness.

Conclusions and Recommendations (500 words)
1) Summarize the main technical problems found in a numbered list, with 1. the top priority. For each problem, briefly suggest a fix. Do the same for HCI problems, in a separate list.
2) Recommend at least three different major improvements based on your HCI analysis. Note: If you choose a system that is excellent from an HCI point of view and so can’t make a good case for some improvements, you may get no points here.
3) Example. For one of the above recommended improvements, illustrate how you would solve the problem with a prototype screen mock-up. Provide screenshots of it in your report, explain how it would work, and discuss why it is an improvement.
4) Conclude with a numbered and titled Table of your technical and HCI evaluations. Based on that, grade the system overall as Excellent, Good, Adequate, Limited or Weak.
In addition, marks may be taken off for:
1) Academic layout – looks professional, with appropriate headings, sub-headings, margins, references and numbered pages. Don’t use personal pronouns or make claims without foundation, or use undefined concepts, etc.
2) Basic requirements (-5% if not met).
a) Spell and grammar checked.
b) Stapled.
c) Of appropriate length (about 3000 words not including references).
d) Cover sheet, with all group names underneath this academic integrity statement:
I declare that this assignment is entirely my own work and that it has not been taken from the work of others. When the work and ideas of others have been used in the study, that work has been properly cited in the text. This assignment does not contain any unacknowledged work from any other source.