131 Term Project
The main aims of this
term project are to determine (a) whether users have troubles finding the web page for making appointments with a librarian,
and (b) whether they are satisfied with the confirmation message that
they receive once they submitted an appointment request. Other comments
from them on the usability of this page, or the Libraries website in
general, are also welcome.
should be carried out by pairs of two INF 131 students (the
"experimenters"). You can sign up for a project team here (join an existing student if you don't have a partner yet, or open up a new team). The
outcome of the
project should be a written report that addresses the above aims. The term papers
are due by March 18 in this dropbox.
The estimated work time is 2 hours for the experiment (10
minutes each subject, and one hour for setup), 2-3 hours for analyzing the videos, and about a day
will be conducted in collaboration with the UCI Libraries who
will be very eager to read about your
1. Choice of Loation, Time, Computer, Capture Software
and Web Browser
before the experiment, determine where you will run the experiment and
what computer you will use.
chairs as well as Internet connectivity that is good enough for web
browsing. It should be indoors or at least in the shade so that
subjects can easily view the screen. Subjects should also not
become distracted by others, nor
others by their talking. The best strategy is to install yourselves at
some public space and to lure nearby students to your experiment,
rather than asking people to come to a specific location at a specific
Computer: The computer should have a screen of at least 13",
screen & audio recording software while the test user browses the web, and
internal or external microphone.
- Screen and Audio Recording ("Screencasting") Software: Any such software is fine as long as
you are able to eventually create an integrated video/audio file that can be
Windows Media Player or Quicktime. HCI professionals typically use Camtasia Studio (for
Mac and PC) or Morae
Recorder (for PC only), which both have a 30-day free trial period. In addition, many freeware and shareware choices exist, both for Windows (the Libraries like CamStudio) and MacOS .
2. Preparation for the experiment
- Install your
recording software, restart the computer, launch your web
browser and the
screen/audio recorder, and record some of your own web browsing with
oral commentary. Make sure that this software does not noticeably slow
down your web browsing. If it does, reduce the color depth of the
recording, down to grayscale if needed. If this is not enough, reduce the
frame rate of the recording, down to four frames per second if needed.
help either, use a faster computer.
- PC users will most likely need an external microphone.
- Download, print
and read the entire Instructions
for the Experimenter beforehand. Do not
share them with the test users.
3. Setup on the Day of
4. Report and CD/DVD:
- Draft the report very soon after performing
the experiment, so that you will better recall details that may be
prepare the report, you should replay and analyze the videos. Take
notes while watching them.
- Compare your notes with the notes that you
took during the experiment.
- Draft a report that discusses
- whether users have troubles finding the web page for making appointments with a librarian
- whether they are satisfied with the confirmation message that they receive once they submitted an appointment request,
- anything else that users reported or that you observed, and
- recommendations for design improvements that you may have.
- If your subjects encounter problems with other
parts of the website (e.g., with its interface design and/or
information organization), then also describe those together with possible suggestions for
report of around 8 pages about your user study (use the
default format of MS Word, which means single-spaced, 1" margin at the
top and bottom, 1.25" margin left and right, and 10pt extra space after
new paragraphs). About 1-2 pages total should be non-textual, including
e.g. figures and tables with some of your results, [annotated] screen
that illustrate what you explain in
your text, or mockups that show your redesign.
- The report
will be graded based on
clarity of your description of what the user did and said, and what problems
encountered (feel free to quote users verbatim if it is important)
thoughtfulness of your analysis of why these problems occurred
thoughtfulness of your recommendations for improvement (less important)
- Submit a single copy of your report and make sure it includes the names of both students but not their IDs. Since your
report will be forwarded to the UCI Libraries you may also omit your
names, but then send both names to the TA. Note though that the UCI Libraries sometimes hire INF
- Upload your
report to the class dropbox,
by March 18 at 11:55pm at the latest.
- Burn a CD/DVD
or create a USB stick with your audio/video recording in a format that is compatible with
Windows Media Player or Quicktime. Write both names on
it, and turn it in
at the beginning of the final exam on March 22 at 8am.
5. Some advice on the report:
- Include some statistics on the demographics of the subjects.
- Do not use subjects' real names, but rather codes like "Subject 1" or similar.
- Organize your
report preferably by issue and not by subject. You can then "summarize"
certain findings by saying things like "4 out of 6 subjects were not
able to find..."
- When describing user
actions and associated problems/difficulties, state them clearly. For example: "The
user clicked on the <insert name
of link/button/whatever> to go to the <descriptive name>" is
better than "She went to the link on the left to go to the next page." You
can't receive credit for what we have to guess you mean.
criticism and recommendations in your report should be based on HCI and web
design guidelines presented in class (but you are welcome to also present
few personal opinions that are not grounded in HCI theory).
- No, you don't
need an "IRB approval" for this user study (don't bother if you don't know
what this is).