Posts Tagged ‘ Assignment ’

September 12, 2012 class plan

The class is divided into 3 main parts:

  1. Mental models – discuss applications of concepts and wrap-up the Cognition topic.
  2. Usability inspection and heuristic evaluation
  3. Preparation for presentations for the next 2 weeks

Please read below for instructions for class activities for each:

1. Mental models

The purpose of this activity is to gain a better understanding of mental models and to see how the concept can be applied to improve interface design.


  1. Create groups of 3-4 people.
  2. Work with your group to identify and explain examples of user’s mental model, represented model, and system model for 2 different products. These products can be a vacuum cleaner, a feature on some software, a car GPS, text messaging, a phone app, the A/C, water heater – anything with controls (that is, with an interface). For both products, once you explicate the 3 types of models, critique the represented model. Figure out what is appropriate about it and what, if anything, can be improved.
  3. Present your insights in a few slides. Use this file on Google Docs to create your slides. All teams use one file. Make sure you create a title slide with student names for each team.
  4. Each team has 3 minutes to present their favorite example.
  5. Ask questions, discuss. If Dr. V is not in class, postpone this step until you’re finished with the usability heuristics presentations.

2. Usability heuristics

The purpose of this activity is to better understand Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics by providing examples of each.


  1. Create 10 groups (2 people per group). Pair with someone you have never worked with before.
  2. Look at Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics from one of the readings for today.
  3. Each group picks one heuristic – go around the room clockwise and count from 1 to 10 to assign one heuristic to each group.
  4. Each group has to find 3 very clear examples that illustrate the heuristic they were assigned.
  5. Each group posts the heuristic name, description, and 3 examples on this Google Doc file. All 20 students use the same file. Make sure the heuristics are presented in Nielsen’s original order.
  6. Review slides as a class, discuss questions and clarifications.

3. Usability principles and IxD elements presentations

See information about the presentations for the following two weeks and sign up for a topic for each week.



Assignment: Research Article Analysis (RAA)

Please see below the instructions for the Research Article Analyses. You need to do 5 this semester, and each one is worth 3 points. I have also posted this file on Blackboard (as an Assignment, but there is nothing you need to submit there).

If you have questions about this assignment, please ask them in the comments below.

Assignment: Blog requirements Fall 2012

Please familiarize yourself with the requirements for your CGT course blog. Come back to them whenever you need to refresh your memory about how to categorize your posts.

Please ask any questions about the blogging assignment in the comments to this post.

Usability Report 4: Usability Testing

This slide deck provides information about the structure of your Usability Testing Report.

As usual, please ask questions in the comments or by email.

Class notes & Assignment: Card Sorting Research

Blog post idea: reflect on the experience of collecting data and participating in research.

What did it feel like to be a participant?

What was it like to be a researcher?

Is there anything you learned from this experience? Anything that happened that was as expected/unexpected?

The next step is to finalize the card sorting report. As I explained in class, it should follow this structure:

  1. Problem statement – explain, very briefly, what problem you were trying to solve
  2. Methods – explain what research methods you used (card sorting). Specify if open or closed. Provide a brief explanation of what card sorting is and the procedures you followed.
  3. Sample – describe your sample. Provide the demographics and background data: gender, age, major, experience with nanoHUB.
  4. Results – present the results for each one of the two card sorting sessions. Include the menu structure each group created. Include any other insights you gained from observing the group work, if any.
  5. Limitations – discuss what limitations the reader should keep in mind when looking at the results: participants’ lack of experience with nanoHUB and nanotechnology is the obvious one that needs to be mentioned,
  6. Final IA – explain your method for creating your final information architecture, and include the final version. Make sure it fits on one sheet.

Questions? Please ask in the comments, or email me if you’re shy 🙂

Class Notes: Information Architecture; Assignment: nanoHUB IA

We discussed information architecture:

  1. What is information architecture (IA)?
  2. What is the relationship of IA to user experience? Can IA influence user experience? If so, how?
  3. What it the relationship between IA and personas, scenarios, and tasks/use cases?
  4. What are some different types of IA/navigation?
    • see the 6 Semantics (organization logics in BGW): task-based, user-based, topical, etc.
    • top-down vs bottom up aka taxonomy vs. folksonomy
    • breadth vs depth
    • various network topologies (e.g. hierarchical vs. networked)
  5. How do you create/validate and information architecture – the Card Sorting method

Then, we discussed nanoHUB:

  1. What it is
  2. Main user groups: professors, graduate students (and postdocs), undergraduate students (as well as another user group, industry partners)
  3. I told you what we know about the usage patterns of each user group (see your notes)
  4. Problem history: nanoHUB approached this class because they found out that users had a hard time finding information
  5. Previous research (available for you on Bb):
    • usability tests with 3 sets of 5 tasks each. Each set of tasks was designed for a main user group (profs, grad students, undergrad students)
    • card sorting with undergrad and grad students, done to improve the current menus (open card sorting). The card sorting research made it clear that the current organization has fundamental problems and needs to be redone from scratch.
  6. Our job: Create a brand new navigation solution for nanoHUB; validate it; test it.

This will combine reports 3 and 4.

TO DO for next week:

  1. Check your email with group assignments. Respond if necessary. Groups will be finalized within 24 hours, by Nov. 4.
  2. Read Study the available existing research about nanoHUB usability (on Bb.)
  3. Familiarize yourself with nanoHUB. Get an account, play with it. Read a couple of (news) articles about what it is.
  4. With your group, brainstorm a new IA. Let existing research inform your IA. At the very least, the top categories from the open card sort we did this summer should be useful. Present the outline of that IA in one of the formats in the BGW chapter.
  5. With your group, create a plan for validating your group’s IA through card sorting, feedback, focus groups, etc.
  6. Submit 4 & 6 by email no later than Nov. 9 by midnight. This is half of your Card Sorting (IA) report. Since it is a plan, it will not be graded. However, if you miss it or miss the deadline, you cannot proceed with the rest of the research.

TO DO by the end of this week (Friday, Nov. 4):

  • Post flyers to recruit research participants. I will email you when the flyers are printed.
  • Pick them up from my office or the CGT main office (Knoy 363) and post them in Birck, other buildings in the Research Park, and engineering buildings. Please indicate in a comment below what building(s) you will cover.

Assignment: Usability Report 2: From qualitative data to Design Requirements

Please see embedded below (and also posted on Bb) the instructions for the second usability report.

The interview transcripts, research paper on online identity management, and mini-hub proposal are also on Bb.

As always, please ask questions about this assignment in the comments below.