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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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