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ADVANCED INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEMS DESIGN

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ADVANCED INSTRUCTIONAL SYSTEMS DESIGN Powered By Docstoc
					EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                      Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                    3/23/11




                            Usability Research Project
                                  Online Dating




                            Design and Strategies for New Media
                             EDC 385G is a course offered at the
                              Instructional Technology program
                    within the department of Curriculum and Instruction,
                   College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin

                                                Blake Grugett




                                                                                         1
EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                      Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                    3/23/11




                          Table of Contents
                          Introduction…………………………. 2
                          Methodology…………………...…… 3
                          The Questionnaire…………………... 5
                          Profiles……………………………… 6
                          The Sites……………………………. 7
                          Data and Results…………………… 11
                          Discussion…………………………. 19
                          Summary and Findings..…………... 20
                          References…………………………. 22




                                                                         2
EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                       Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                             Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                           3/23/11




                                  Introduction
                                  What does it mean to be human? Without human contact
                                  children do not grow normally and often die or are
                                  developmentally disabled. Human beings testify that love is
                                  the most important part of life. However, love is one of
those secret springs that objective science has ignored and stuffed into the right side of
the brain. It is hard to find a way to talk about love and be taken seriously in scientific
circles. Love and companionship is a fundamental drive for union at the core of
existence. We could call it the desire for connection, overcoming separateness or a primal
urge.


Freud said there is a life force – what he called the libido. Fromm says Freud did not
understand sex deeply enough; Fromm sees sex as a part of the primal desire for union.


Our lives are increasing dependant on technology as opposed to face-to-face contact.
Computer interaction has enabled people from all over the world to communicate
directly, whether they are friends or strangers. They can chat playfully, or build intimate
relationships. People become acquainted online without physical proximity or sexual
attraction, without the sensory information from sight, smell, or touch; people become
interested in getting closer to a particular person online. It is not all surprising that
millions have ventured into online dating as a way to find a relationship rather than
waiting for a chance meeting. In a study reported on CBS News, 15% of Americans with
Internet access have visited an Internet dating site. 27% of them were 18-29 years old.
       31% of American adults – 63 million people – say they know someone who has
        used a dating website.
       26% of American adults – 53 million people – say they know someone who has
        gone on a date with a person they met through a dating site.
       15% of American adults – 30 million people – say they know someone who has
        been in a long-term relationship or married someone he or she met online. Twice
        as many know someone who has at least dabbled in the online dating scene.


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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11




Obviously online dating is a popular pastime. The truth is many individuals find the
anonymity of online dating encourages a certain amount of exaggeration or lying. While
some claim that we always hide things at the beginning of a relationship, trying to put our
best foot forward, the Internet makes it easier to hide such things as facial expressions,
income, marital status and even criminal records. Finding a relationship in the “real
world” is difficult; the Internet allows easier access to potential connections. Text-based
means of communication online can be used to transmit thoughts and feelings of people
toward each other.


This study examines 3 online dating sites and their functionality and usability. This study
examines the importance of using consistent terminology, easy to understand instructions
and friendly interfaces. There are many online dating sites on the Internet and the few
that have gotten these factors right have risen to the top of the market.


Methodology
This report charts the progress of 2 online dating site users, from the first encounter with
dating in cyberspace, to searching online. The main theme and goal is to find a match
based on specific criteria. The data collected from the users will illuminate the process of
profile creation and searching for a match online. Criteria for the sample were that the
users be single. The methodology and the profiling begin with breaking down
relationships into fundamental elements (e.g., physical attributes, salary, height, religious
standing) that encompass the major parts of online dating relationships.


I asked each user for their permission to use their own personal information. This request
was denied because of the issues of confidentiality. Not only their names but also all
identifying information such as age, address and types of employment were changed.
Both of my users had not used any type of online dating system. The user questionnaire
itself went though through several major revisions with minor changes added
periodically. At first there was a fairly long user questionnaire that soon became fairly



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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11


short basic questionnaire. The study consisted of both users going online to search for a
particular type of person. As the usability study began I sat behind the users and asked
them to verbalize what they were thinking. This information was collected as data and the
results are summarized in this document.


The Questionnaire
What is your age?
What is your marital status?
What is your gender?
What is your sexual orientation?
What kind of hobbies and interests do you have?
What is your occupation?
What is your salary range?
Where do you access the Internet?
About how many hours a day do you use the Internet?
What do you mostly use the Internet for?


The users – both users were professionals, well educated and single. Of the users that
participated one was a woman and one a man. It was important to retrieve information
from both the male and female perspective in order to get a well-rounded view. The
woman is a professional sex educator in her mid twenties with some experience with
computers and their interactions. The man is a computer science college professor with
many years experience in computer interaction. Because the actual participants in this
usability study refused to use their real information and data, profiles for each had to be
created.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11



Profiles


                David Armstrong - I am an educated homosexual man working as a real
                estate office manager in Memphis. I love my job, maybe too much; I spend
                way too much time at work. I work with mostly women and have no real
                contact with single men. I also teach yoga and art classes in the evening,
which does not leave a lot of time for socializing. I have a few close friends and we love
to see movies and cook out at our individual homes. My guy friends have had good luck
finding dates using online sources so I thought I would give it a try. I love romance and
outdoor activities – travel and romantic movies are my passions. I live alone and have a
full life but find I am missing the company of a man to share my passions. I am not
opposed to being in a long-term relationship but am not ready for that step yet. I just left
a 3-year commitment and am just interested in dating some fun men.
        Statistics:
        Blonde hair
        Blue eyes
        Average body type
        5’10”
        Real estate office manager
        Bachelor’s degree
        Salary -25K-34K
        Birthday – 01/13/72


               Angela Peters - I am an educated heterosexual female working as a
               secretary for a small purchasing firm in Memphis. I love my job, maybe too
               much; I spend way too much time at work. I work with mostly women and
               have no real contact with single men. I also teach aerobics and art classes in
the evening, which does not leave a lot of time for socializing. I have a few close friends
and we love to see movies and cook out at our individual homes. My girlfriends have had
good luck finding dates using online sources, so I thought I would give it a try. I love



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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11


romance and outdoor activities – travel and romantic movies are my passions. I live alone
and have a full life but find I am missing the company of a man to share my passions. I
am not opposed to marriage but am not ready for commitment. I am interested in dating
some fun men.
        Statistics-
        Brown hair
        Brown eyes
        Average body type
        5’2”
        Non-smoker
        Secretary/aerobics instructor
        Non-smoker
        Bachelor’s degree
        25K-34K salary
        Birthday - 01/13/1980
Angela and David are searching for
I am looking for someone that can fill the romance void in my life. I would like someone
who is physical and likes the outdoors. I am not picky when it comes to looks or
education but would like someone that can romance me. I would like someone who can
share my interest in travel and exploration. I am looking for someone that can grow with
me but also give me some direction in life.
        Statistics:
        6”+ male
        25-45 years old
        Lives in Tennessee
        With children
        Descriptive words: “travel, exercise, romance, exploration”


The Sites
loveaccess.com is a free Internet dating site that markets itself as giving the opportunity
to make friends, find dates and meet new people. This site advertises a 3-step process to



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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                      Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                    3/23/11


get connected. This site also markets quick and easy access and includes videos and has a
quick link to see who is online at any given time. The interface is fun and energetic and
the site appears at first glance to be marketed toward a younger demographic.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11


singlesnet.com is a free Internet dating site that markets itself as #1 in dating. This site
advertises that you can be dating in 30 seconds with a proprietary matching technology
and more marriages than any other dating site. The interface is fun and romantic with
soothing colors and pretty, attractive photos of available clients.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11


plentyoffish.com is a free Internet dating site that offers a lot of options. This site allows
you to perform various types of searches, rate people, and rate photos, access forums and
view the new people that have recently registered. The interface does not relay a strong
message but offers a lot of information.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11



Data and Results
Data was collected while observing the users as they maneuvered through the various
sites. The users were asked to verbalize their movements and what thoughts they had as
they clicked on links, images and navigation elements.
       User A represents David Armstrong
       User B represents Angela Peters
The particular tasks that these users were asked to perform were based on the following
rationales. All online dating sites require that a user’s personal information be collected.
Task #1 is an experiment on usability of this collection process. The task looks at how
easy the technology is to use, the organization of the questions, the instructional aspects,
and the options and how they are presented.
Task#2 examines the process of finding a suitable match by searching the sites. This
process is the core of many of these online dating sites. None of the sites examined here
automatically matches users, so it is up to the user to find prospective dates. This process
was examined with specific criteria and timed so that data could be collected.
Task#3 is an open-ended task examining user’s impressions of the sites in connection
with the usability and overall confidence with technical issues, information, and
interaction and interface components.


Task#1 – Creation of a Profile
loveaccess.com – User A – Initial impressions and profile creation
       User A asked the following question as they saw the words: “Easy and safe” –
        “what does that mean?” When the user was asked – what do you think it means?
        The user replied – “That I am not going to be a victim”
       The user wanted to do a quick search first to see what kind of a people were
        online
       Too many options: Sign –up, Sign-up free, Free trial membership, Guest Quick
        Search




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11




       User clicked on Free Trial Membership – User asked, “ What does loveaccess ID
        mean?”
       User did not know this site picks people in your area.
       “Spell check is nice – prospective dates will not think I am an idiot”
       The input field requires that you use a minimum of 100 words. User asked, “ How
        would you know?”
       “Pull down menus are frustrating, I would like to type in the answers because it
        would be faster”.
       As the user got to the page where the user was asked to describe your ideal match
        the user asked “ Is it possible to meet more people by putting in more options?”
       The user noted the line – “Describe your ideal choice”. The user stated: “Ideal is
        a bad choice, should say describe your acceptable choice.”
       “Why is the first question asking about body type?”
       The user suggested that setting parameters allow the user an opportunity to
        exclude rather then find an ideal match.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                        Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                              Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                            3/23/11




    loveaccess.com – User B – Initial impressions and profile creation
            This user had troubles getting started.
            User did not understand the username and password – “Does this mean I will
             be tracked and will this access my personal information?”
            User got several error messages.
            User did not like the red color – “reminds me of a prostitute color”
            The free membership benefits were very confusing to this user.
            User did not understand the branding – where life and love click
            This user found the instructions to be very easy to use – “I like the
             instructions, they are easy.”




singlesnet.com – User A – Initial impressions and profile creation


                                                                                                13
EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11



            User A found the obvious entry point to the page.
            “Nice, soft interface.”
            “The help button is nice, but not sure what kind of help this button is
             offering.” – User A clicked on the help button and realized the page offered
             help on using the site.
            User A realized that by clicking on the NEXT button, you are accepting their
             policy statement and found that odd.
            “Clear easy page, no distractions.”
             When user A clicked on yes as an answer to profile questions, a submenu
             appeared for the user to answer more questions. – “This is nice – maybe too
             many options.”
            “These are reasonable questions, yes and no answers, which works for me.”
            User A found lots of problems with the technical end of the page when they
             got to the search function which lead user A to remark: “If they cannot get
             this right – I would not use this site because it decreases confidence in
             preserving my private information.”


singlesnet.com – User B – Initial impressions and profile creation
            “I really like the look of this site – makes me feel comfortable.”
             “The instructions are clear.”
            “There are no distractions.”
            “Getting started seems easy.”
            “Lots of questions, but easy to use.”
            User B had no problems creating a profile.


plentyoffish.com – User A – Initial impressions and profile creation
            “The first thing that I noticed were pictures of attractive women, this must be
             a draw.”
            “Homepage samples give me a much better idea of what is on the site.”
            “Attractive site”


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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                        Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                              Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                            3/23/11



            “This site gives you a total number of users currently online which is an
             advantage.”
            “Lot of women in the samples – this gives you the impression that a lot of
             young women use this site – which I am not so sure that this is the case.”
            “The word FREE is all over this site which leads you to believe that you have
             full access to all services.”
            “This site did ask me about drug use, curious.”
            User noticed the small animated icons and wondered what they were for.




            The site questionnaire asked, “What you want to do on a first date” as an
             optional question – user A did not like this question, thought it was not
             appropriate.
            There was a question about rating your picture, which was confusing to this
             user – “should I rate my own picture or is this for someone else to do?” User
             realized later on in the process that other users rate user pictures.
            “This site has a lot of ads!”
            This site allows the user to click on their interests and match people who have
             the same interest – user A found this useful.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11




plentyoffish.com – User B – Initial impressions and profile creation
            User B found plentyoffish.com’s homepage to be cluttered and not very user
             friendly.
            User B thought the images of the 3 women to be redundant on every page.
            “Too many ads”
            User B liked the instructions that allow the users to step through the
             registration process.
            “This site uses different words than the others site” – Registration instead of
             create a profile.
            “What are those little icons for?”
            “This site seems like it will send you to eHarmony.” The user was referring to
             online ads for eHarmony.


Task #2 - Search results:
Singlesnet.com – There was a search function that asked the user to search by state – the
results were not results based on the selected state but from all over the United States.




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11




The following are the results of the post questionnaire. The results are based on the
following scale:
1 = Strongly disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Feel Neutral
4 = Agree
5= Strongly Agree


                                                                         User   User
Loveaccess.com                                                                         Results
                                                                          A      B
1. Interface is easy to use                                               3      2       2.5
2. Menu shows my progress in program                                      4      2        3
3. Navigation buttons operate as I expect                                 5      4       4.5
4. I felt in control of my experience                                     3      1        2
5. Text and graphics are readable                                         5      3        4
6. Color scheme is appealing                                              4      2        3
7. Design elements are consistent                                         4      3       3.5
8. Tutorial content is clear and concise                                  2      3       2.5
9. Learning objectives are understood                                     3      1        2
10. Feedback is relevant, meaningful                                      5      4        3
11. Content evoked attention, thoughtfulness                              4      5       4.5
12. I found the various functions in this website were well integrated    4      3       3.5
13. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this website
                                                                          3      2       2.5
very quickly
14. I found the website very easy to use                                  3      1        2
15. I felt very confident using the website                               3      2       2.5
16. The content of the website met my expectations                        3      3        3
17. I was able to complete my tasks in reasonable amount of time          4      2        3


        Results Total for loveaccess.com: 3 = Neutral



                                                                         User   User
singlesnet.com                                                                         Results
                                                                          A      B


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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                    Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                          Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                        3/23/11



1. Interface is easy to use                                               4      5       4.5
2. Menu shows my progress in program                                      3      4       3.5
3. Navigation buttons operate as I expect                                 1      4        3
4. I felt in control of my experience                                     2      4        3
5. Text and graphics are readable                                         2      4        3
6. Color scheme is appealing                                              5      5        5
7. Design elements are consistent                                         4      4        4
8. Tutorial content is clear and concise                                  4      3       3.5
9. Learning objectives are understood                                     3      3        3
10. Feedback is relevant, meaningful                                      3      4       3.5
11. Content evoked attention, thoughtfulness                              3      2       2.5
12. I found the various functions in this website were well integrated    1      1        1
13. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this website
                                                                          3      1        2
very quickly
14. I found the website very easy to use                                  3      1        2
15. I felt very confident using the website                               1      2       1.5
16. The content of the website met my expectations                        2      3        3
17. I was able to complete my tasks in reasonable amount of time          2      2        3


Results Total for singlesnet.com: 3 = Neutral


                                                                         User   User
plentyoffish.com                                                          A      B     Results

1. Interface is easy to use                                               4      3       3.5
2. Menu shows my progress in program                                      4      2        3
3. Navigation buttons operate as I expect                                 4      4        4
4. I felt in control of my experience                                     4      1       2.5
5. Text and graphics are readable                                         5      4       4.5
6. Color scheme is appealing                                              4      5       4.5
7. Design elements are consistent                                         4      3       3.5
8. Tutorial content is clear and concise                                  4      2        3
9. Learning objectives are understood                                     4      1       2.5
10. Feedback is relevant, meaningful                                      4      5       4.5
11. Content evoked attention, thoughtfulness                              3      5        4


                                                                                              18
EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                       Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                             Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                           3/23/11



12. I found the various functions in this website were well integrated        4     3       3.5
13. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this website
                                                                              5     2       3.5
very quickly
14. I found the website very easy to use                                      2     1       1.5
15. I felt very confident using the website                                   4     3       3.5
16. The content of the website met my expectations                            4     3       3.5
17. I was able to complete my tasks in reasonable amount of time              4     2        3


Results Total for plentyoffish.com: 3.5 = Neutral/Agree
The comparison between how the two users answered these questions showed differences
between how women and men view these sites. User A has more experience using the
Internet and user B seemed to have higher expectations.


Discussion
loveaccess.com – David Armstrong:
Love access was generally easy to use and friendly, but there were a couple of places
where I was confused about how to proceed. The site was attractive but some of the
pages, particularly the introductory page was quite busy with many different places to
click for the same result. On one page it would have been easy to get sidetracked from
the goal of taking a free trial into signing up for pay services. That seemed to be the idea,
but left a bad impression.


loveaccess.com – Angela Peters:
I initially did not like this site because it was not inviting. As I got into the site, however,
it seemed easy to use and the search was interesting.


Singlesnet.com – David Armstrong
The interface was OK but the implementation was lousy. Several times text was overlaid
on the screen making it impossible to read. The search engine is awful. It allows a
search within a zip code or state. Something in between would be better. However, in




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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                       Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                             Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                           3/23/11


both options I specified, I got profiles from 500 individuals ranging from Ohio to Texas.
There seems to be no way to restrict the search to a reasonable area. Finding a match is
difficult because of having to wade through profiles of individuals hundreds of miles
away.


Singlesnet.com – Angela Peters
I really liked the way these pages were designed. I thought the site was really friendly
and pretty but really hard to use. I did however, like the instructions and found them easy
to use – I just could not do the search, which I think is the purpose – to find a date?


Plenty of fish.com - David Armstrong
Generally quite pleasant to use. Because it is free, there were no annoying teasers to
spend more money. But there were some ads. The search engine was responsive and
allowed reasonable parameters, except that the refine search button didn’t seem to do
anything. It showed a range of ages, but there was no obvious way to change them. The
design was good, and the implementation generally good.


Plenty of fish.com – Angela Peters
I don’t know if it was because this was the third site I visited or if it was the site but I
found this one really easy to use.


Summary and Findings
Information Design was not consistent
All the sites used instructions differently. singlesnet.com and plentyoffish.com uses links
and buttons to convey instruction and process steps. This does not allow the user to have
a complete understanding of what is involved in the entire process from the beginning.
Singlesnet.com instruction is consistent and clear. The tutorial content of singlesnet.com
allowed the users in this study to understand the process with a learning component that
made it more clear how to proceed. Content was also not consistent, all the sites used
different terminology when referring to the input of personal data. One site used the
phase – create a profile, one site used the phase – create an account; one site used the


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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                      Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                            Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                          3/23/11


term registration. All the sites used terms like webcam, chatrooms, instant messaging,
video personals, ID, password, matching technology, and proprietary compatibility. This
type of terminology requires prior knowledge or a certain amount of research from the
user.


Good Interaction design is vital to success
All of the tested sites required that the user interact extensively with the sites. It was an
important aspect of the users’ tasks and an important operation of these types of sites. All
the sites required interaction with the users and all of the sites’ interactions were
different. It was not always clear to the users of this study that you were to click
something in order to find information. Some of the sites used interaction smoothly and
some were very awkward. All of these sites used their own engines that seemed to be
very simple in nature and operation. These proprietary engines built profiles and allowed
users to search the sites. singlesnet.com had the worst interaction feedback because the
operations revealed the most errors and page breaks.


Interface is very important
It was discovered in this study that client’s photos were as important to these sites as
showing product images on online shopping sites. A user being able to see the product
was as important as reading about the statistics of the product. The importance of users
being able to see the pictures of prospective dates was a little bit of a surprise because it
was not a part of the tasks the users were required to do. The friendly faces and calming
colors of the sites were important to the users and addressed the confidence level of the
users to the sites. The simple and clear layout of singlesnet.com encouraged the users to
move forward.


Singlesnet.com did a good job with its interface and information design but failed with its
interaction design. plentyoffish.com does not have a very successful interface but does
have successful information and interaction. Loveaccess.com greatest strength is its
instruction and information design and does a fair job with interface and interaction.



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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                     Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                           Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                         3/23/11


What was learned from this study is that all of these aspects have to work together and
each aspect has to be successful in order for the site to meet the expectations of its users.




                                                References
Du Bois, William (2003) A Science of Humanity: Humanistic Sociology’s response to
Sociobiology. New York University.

Madden, Mary, Lenhart, Amanda (2005) Online Dating, Americans who are seeking
romance use the internet to help them in their search, but there is still widespread public
concern about the safety of online dating. Washington, DC: PEW/Internet & American
Life Project

Fiore, Andrew T; Frost, Feanna; Donath, Judity (2004) Scientist, designers seek same for
good conversation”: A Workshop on Online Dating. (2005) MIT Media Lab, Cambridge
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EDC 385G: Design and Strategies for New Media                                            Blake Grugett
Instructor: Dr. Min Liu                                                                  Version: #1.
Project Title: Usability Research Project                                                3/23/11


This paper is written by Blake Grugett for the course EDC385G Designs and Strategies for New Media at
the University of Texas - Austin




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