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					                                                              Usability chat notes for 080722




Usability
Agenda for 080722 (Week #5)
 Introductions

 Questions

 Research Reports

 Usability of (non-web) documents and products

 File for MnOnline UT data

 Expert evaluation

 Group work

Introductions
 What is your most complicated electronic device, not counting your computer
  or cell phone? Have you mastered it?

Questions
 Terminology from Loranger & Nielsen
  Three-click rule (322) –
  Illusion of completeness (323) –
  Rich vs. poor media (375) –
  Elegant web designs (390) –

 Terminology from others
  Productivity paradox –
  Illusion of knowing –
  Creeping featurism –

 Details and dubious claims?
  Security warning on Target webpage (292): Is this reassuring?
  “Good comparison tables tend to be the most efficient method to communicate
  differences between similar items.” (312) The Specifications table for the
  2005 Accord Sedan is identified as “a fine example of a well-designed comparison
  table... [for which a] clean and simple design makes scanning easy.” (314)
  “Most audio and video clips should be a less than a minute long; very rarely should
  they last more than five minutes.” (378)
  Map of Sydney Opera House (388): Where do you enter the restaurant?
                                                                                 Usability chat notes for 080722



Research reports
 Dianna

 Ollie

 Paula

 Piush

Usability of (non-web) documents and products
   US Consumers Union (1936) -- > Consumer Reports (1942)
   Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed (1965)
   Allen Newell & Herbert Simon’s Human Problem Solving, 1972 -- > cognitive psych &
   Carnegie Mellon
   Plain English movement -- > demand for clear info from business and government
              PlainLanguage.gov <http://www.plainlanguage.gov/>
   Linda Flower & John Hayes -- > think-aloud protocols and writing tasks as problem
   solving
             Experienced writers do more problem solving, more frequently referring back to the audience to
             question whether they are meeting the needs of the readers.
   John Carroll’s The Nurnberg Funnel: Designing Minimalist Instruction for Practical
   Computer Skill, 1990 -- > minimalism; move from reference documentation to task-
   based documentation
             Importance of psychology of learning and problem solving; replace systems documentation with
             learner guides.
                         Anticipate problems and facilitate trouble shooting.
                         Develop case studies and design by scenario.
   Janice Redish -- > tech comm as value added
             Special issue of Technical Communication devoted to “Measuring the Value Added by Professional
             Technical Communicators,” 42 (1): 1995. Janice Redish & Judy Ramey wrote the introduction
             (40-51).
             Issues in measuring value added:
                         money earned (better product = improved reputation = improved sales = repeat
                          business)
                      money saved (lower development and support costs; improved performance)
                 Problem is that $ doesn’t flow back to tech pubs
         JoAnne Hackos -- > Federal express P&P manuals
               Rewrote P&P manuals following principles well used by technical communicators:
                         rewrote and reorganized manuals by task rather than by policy
                         targeted sections to particular audiences
                         improved navigation and access tools (e.g., TOC, index, page headers, headings)
                         rewrote sentences in active voice and imperative mood or 2nd person
                      improved graphic design and layout
                 Results
                         Success rate rose from 53% to 80%
                                                                              Usability chat notes for 080722


                    Search time improved: formerly employees successfully completed only 38% of searches
                     in < 3 minutes; after the rewrite, employees successfully completed 64% of searches in
                     < 3 minutes.
                   Satisfaction with and use of manuals increased
            Hackos concluded savings within the primary audience > $400,000 in productivity gains in first
            year.
            Hackos, JoAnn, and Julian Winstead. 1995. Finding out what users need and giving it to them: A
            case-study at Federal Express. Technical Communication 42 (3): 322-327.
    Jay Mead
          Mead, Jay. 1998. Measuring the value added by technical documentation: A review of research
          and practice. Technical Communication 45 (3): 353-377.
Donald Norman’s Things That Make Us Smart, 1993 -- > cognitive psych,
Xerox PARC, & Apple
         In 1972 researches at Xerox PARC develop the Alto, a computer that wasn’t commercialized but
         that lead to important later developments in computers.
Karen Schriver’s Dynamics in Document Design, 1997 -- > “A Timeline of Document
Design: 1900–1995,” feedback driven design, & blame study
          Timeline covers developments in five categories:
                    Education & practice in writing/rhetoric
                    Professional development
                    Education & practice in graphic design
                    Science, technology, & environment
                 Society & consumerism
            Audience analysis
                    Classification-driven audience analysis – create profiles of your ‘target’ audience.
                     Problem is that the leap between analyzing your audience and make decisions about
                     your text is quite large.
                    Intuition-driven audience analysis – imagine the audience as a guide to writing and
                     design.
                     Problem is that not all writers are skilled at invoking an imagined audience and writers
                     are not encouraged to check their imagined reader against actual readers.
                    Feedback-driven audience analysis – seek feedback from actual readers engaged in the
                     use of documents; “’catch the reader in the act’ of interpretation.” (160)
                     Problem is that feedback driven design can provide too much data, not all of which is
                     relevant.
            Blame study – conducted for Japanese electronics manufacturer
                    About 80% percent of consumers claimed to have scanned their manuals or to have
                     used them as a reference; 15% read the manual; 4% never used them.
                    Use of the manual is determined by need to learn new features or to recover from error
                    63% of participants “blamed themselves for errors they made with consumer
                     electronics” (216); self-blaming is not age specific
                    “In the majority of cases (about –two-thirds of the time) in which readers blamed
                     themselves for troubles, the fault was not with the reader, but with the manual, the
                     equipment, or both.” (220)
                    79% of participants claimed they would buy from companies which they though
                     communicated clearly.
                                                                               Usability chat notes for 080722


                       > 50% would pay more for a product with a clear manual than for a product with a
                        poorly written manual.
              Shriver later concludes
                   The “Blame Study” suggested that the cumulative effect of peoples’ experiences with poorly
                   designed products and badly written instruction guides may convince them that they are
                   incompetent both as readers and as users of technology. However, as the usability study
                   reported in this chapter makes evident, the majority of the confusions that readers
                   experienced resulted from a combination of poor writing and poor visual design.
                   …the most important factor in learning to use new technology was not a person’s previous
                   experience, sex, or even how hard he or she tried. Rather, the most important factor was the
                   quality of the writing and visual design of the instruction guide. (473)
  Plain language movement

Website—Bad human factors designs
              Darnell, Michael. 2006. Bad designs: Table of contents. Bad Human Factors Designs
              <http://www.baddesigns.com/examples.html> 9 November 2006.

File for MnOnline UT data
 MnOnline_results.xls

 Conventions (when coding responses)
  1 = yes
  2 = no
  3 = other

 Save your file as MnOnline_results_y3i.xls, replacing the “y3i” with your
   3 initials.

Expert evaluation
 Specs
              I have posted the specs <http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~nord/472ut/experteval.htm>.
              Write up as an informal report (memorandum form).
              Due Friday, July 25.

 Questions?

Group work
 Apply what you have learned about usability testing and web design to one or
  more print documents or products of your choice.
  As usual, begin with considerations of audience and purpose:
      For whom is this document designed?
      How are they to use the document?
      What are your initial impression of the document?
                                                                                   Usability chat notes for 080722


  Then, conduct a heuristic evaluation of the document based upon the advice
  provided by Dumas & Redish and by Loranger and Nielsen; for example, you will
  want to examine where and when the document is used. Potential problems with the
  document that may be caused by poor organization, typography, or navigation cues.

One group member should summarize the group’s responses in the body of an
 email message to me: roland.nord@mnsu.edu. Use the following subject
 line: “Eng 4/572 – Document usability” CC all group members.
           Since you haven’t had time to prepare for this exercise, you will probably need to refer to a print
           document that is available on the web—that you can all access quickly. For example, I might
           choose a travel form that I must fill out to seek reimbursement.
           The Travel - Expense Reimbursements form is available at
           <http://www.mnsu.edu/busoff/travel/forms/pdfs/sema4/msu_emply_exprprt32007idf.pdf>.
           However, note that isn’t the title printed on the form.




                I would then describe the problems or questions that I (know that I) have as I fill out the form.
                There are instructions (other than the Read Me pop-up instructions), but since the instructions
                are a separate file, I avoid them. (I just looked at them again, and they don’t answer my
                questions.) I don’t find the pop-up instructions or hints helpful, and they contain a number of
                grammatical errors, which is mildly discouraging. Ouch.
                                                                  Usability chat notes for 080722


Note that this is a print document that has simply been transferred to the web as a PDF; it hasn’t
been designed specifically for the web.

				
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