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Assignment - Heuristic Evaluation (15%) - Individual


Project Overview

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 Slack using heuristic evaluation. The assignment will be done individually and will follow the major steps below.

You cannot cover all aspects of Slack so I suggest you focus on its core features, rather than additional add-ons that one can get.

1. Planning

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 often critical or typical tasks. 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. These tasks should be realistic ones that typical users would try to do with the system. You should inspect the system and come up with a set of tasks that you think would allow you to conduct a thorough heuristic evaluation.

Heuristics For a heuristic evaluation, you need to choose which heuristics are relevant for the client and the particular tasks chosen. You will use Nielsen's heuristics - you can choose to use the original set of heuristics which are presented in the course lecture, or you can use Nielsen's updated slightly which are slight rewordings of the original heuristics.

Data Sheets

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.

2. Doing the Heuristic Evaluation

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).

3. Reporting

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.