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Preece Chapter 12 and 14 June 11, 2009

Posted by jvbarth in Uncategorized.
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Chapter twelve is the introduction of evaluating ones design project.  Evaluation is necessary because it is needed to check that users can use the product and they they like it, especially if the design concept is new.  Users are not only looking for something that is user friendly, they are also looking to be left with a pleasing experience with the product.  From reading the little bit of this chapter I have concluded that evaluation may be the single most important process of the design process.  It allows you to come up with your designs, have users test them, and then pretty much fix whatever they dont like.  For the most part, if it is done right you will create a completely user friend, rich experience product.

The chapter also explained three different approaches to the evaluation process they are as listed:

1.) Usability Testing – this involves measuring typical users’ performance on typical tasks.

2.)Field Studies- these tests are conducting in natural settings and how the product mediates their activities.

3.)Analytical Evaluation- two categories of evaluation methods are considered : inspections, which include heuristic evaluation and walkthroughs, and theoretically based models, which are used to predic user performance.

Chapter 14 deals with usablity and field studies, which usability testing is an approach that emphasizeds the property of being usable, it is the product being tested and not the user.  It used an example of testing for a website called MedlinePlus which allowed the access to a large database full of health information for a wide range of practicioners.  Their goal for this test was to see what the actual usablity problems were and where were they located in the site.  They used employees in the health care fields for the best accurate test of actual usefullness and usability of the site which I believe was a good idea because most normal people would not understand most of the info if it was available to them or at least appreciate it and put it to use.  They gave the users 5 tasks to complete on the website and had them accomplish them and then rate the tasks and other parts of the website out of 5.  I believe that testing is the most important way to fully develop a product and what this website did by bringing in doctors to test the site was smart and gave them an edge to exactly how useful the site actually is.

The last thing the chapter talks about the use of evaluation through field studies.  We learned from the last chapter that field studies are conducted to show how a product or prototype is adopted and used by people in their working and everyday lives.  Field studies have been known to last several minutes to some spanning over multiple years depending on what results you want and the type of product being tested.  The chapter then went into detail about the various aspects of what to do when conducting a field experiment from everywhere to how to inform the user what they are partaking in and also noting that they feel it is best to let the user know how long the test will take.  It thens talks about analyzing and collecting data which will either be from direct observation or the fill out of either surveys by users or by filling out sheets with ease of use and rating each feature through 1-5.

In conclusion these two chapters teach you the basic knowledge needed to help you in fully getting your product or prototype evaluating and then made just right so it can be marketed and sold.  It provides the steps and some very broad terminology into this area.  However what I have covered is sufficient enough to know exactly what evaluation processes are and the different areas that can be used to achieve this.

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Comments»

1. Will - June 15, 2009

Josh,

I think you summarized the chapters, but I want you to probe deeper into the readings. Rather than just describing Medline, critique it. Did they actually effectively evaluate the Medline system? Were there any problems? Anything unforseen? What consequence does this have for usability testing?

Also you gave me a textbook distinction between field studies and usability. But really what are the consequences for using these two techniques to evaluate a design?


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