Imagine that you work for Usability Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in evaluating web interfaces. You and your team have been contracted to do a discount usability study of
SnapChat™ using heuristic evaluation. The assignment will be done individually and will follow the major steps below.
You need to pick either an iPhone or Android-based smartphone. If possible, choose the type of phone that you are least familiar with - this will make it easier for you to spot usability problems. You should focus your heuristic evaluation on the core features of
SnapChat™ . Here are the key tasks in the scenario you will be assessing.
Tasks A heuristic evaluation requires one or more experts to go through the interface. The quality of the evaluation is improved if the experts use a predefined set of mock tasks to direct their inspection. These are the critical or typical tasks listed above. Usually, it would be your job to work with the client to finalize a set of tasks that you as the experts will try to perform but we have taken this step for you in pre-planning. The general tasks that you should use for this assignment are listed above. Note: while we discussed solution complexity in class, in this assignment you do not need to define it.
Heuristics You will use Nielsen's updated heuristics presented in the course lecture. In addition, you may use other heuristics that are appropriate to mobile devices and contexts are discussed in the lecture.
You will need to create a data sheet for your evaluation. The data sheet should be formatted along the lines of the example given below:
|Task & specific location in task||Heuristic broken||Usability defect description||Severity Rating||Recommendations|
|E.g., Task 1: <description>||Visibility of System Status||System seems suspended while system searches database & no wait message is displayed||Major (5)||User should be alerted that system is active and searching. Add a system status message for waits longer than 5 seconds.|
Once you have done all the preparation steps you are ready to evaluate. Individually perform a heuristic evaluation on the assigned system using the tasks you determined above. It is a good idea for each expert to run through the tasks twice. In the first case, run through each task so you can familiarize yourself with the interface and tasks. In the second run through of each task, you are using the heuristics to look for problems. Use the task list and heuristics checklist you developed, and the data sheets you prepared (see above).
Your write-up (report) should be oriented towards a management person who will make the major decisions on the interface and system changes. Here is a template for you to follow. You should have 2 pages single spaced - this does not include the appendices.
Section 1. Scenario Give a very brief reminder (overview) on what the interface is and then explain the role (and objective) of your product evaluation team.
Section 2. Methodology Explain what you did. Assume that your client knows what usability methods are and their purpose. Include the number of experts, the tasks you chose and why you chose them, and the heuristics you used.
Section 3: Results & Interpretation Summarize the findings of heuristic evaluation. Present findings in order of priority based on severity ratings. Identify common and important problems of the system. This should be more than a list of all the heuristics broken. Try to generalize problems that are related, and use examples to highlight them. Include annotated screen shots where appropriate but place these at the end of your two pages (images will be outside the required length limits of the assignment).
Section 4: Suggested improvements Describe five important changes that you would make to the design of the system, with explanation. Refer back to your heuristic evaluation summary results, the discussion on web design as covered in the text and your professional experience.
Note: You must stay within the style of interface presented. For example, your modification cannot suggest to convert a form fill-in system into a graphical map or change design constraints related to the site's brand.
Appendix 1: Raw data. All original data sheets and data summary sheet from heuristic evaluation should be included here.
Bring a printed copy of all materials to class for hand-in on the day the assignment is due.