1) Introduction to User Experience
Week 1: The first week included several videos (narrated power points) defining user experience. According to Dr. Newman, “UX is the experience people have when they interact with your product.” (What is User Experience? Slide 13. ) This video offered the helpful reminder just because you design something does not make you an effective “user” of that software. It all makes sense to you because you created it. The second video gave an overview of the iterative UX design process. Counterintuitively, the goal of the UX process is to fail quickly because then you can redesign the product to “get less wrong”. Or at least move toward a better solution. Newman describes a spiral model moving from “assessing, designing, and building” toward a better product each time. This spiral includes both UX Research and Design. Research includes several methods specifically “interviews, observations, surveys, user testing, and inspection methods” (The UX Process slide 12). Design includes “personas, scenarios, user stories, sketching and ideation, storyboarding, mapping and navigation design, comparative research, and lo, mid, and hi-fidelity prototyping” (The UX Process slide 13). The final video in first week described the components of UX specifically, “value, usability, adoptability, desirability” (Components of UX slide 7). Slides 5-11 explain these components:
- Value is whether or not this tools is better than the alternatives
- Usability is whether or not users can do what they need to do
- Adoptability is it easy to find and start using
- Desirability is it fun, attractive and pleasant to use.
Week 2: This week deepened the material I was learning about UX Research. The first video covered the three basic methods of UX research. According to Newman these methods fit within the categories of asking, observing, and inspecting (Basic Methods of UX Research slide 3). Asking involves interviews and surveys (as well as focus groups, diary studies, experience sampling). Observing can involve ethnographic observations (watching as people engage in activities to understand more about the activity), user testing, usage analytics, video analysis, and social media mining. Inspecting involves guideline-based (comparing a system with best practices) walkthroughs, and comparative analysis. Frequently methods are combined for example user testing is matched with contextual interviews. The video summarizes when to use the methods (slide 15).
- Ask when you can’t observe because it would take too long or you are more interested in values and motivations. You want large numbers and lots of certainty.
- Observe when self-report could miss information or when the process or communication is important.
- Inspect when you have a product to inspect or interacting with users is too expensive.
The next large task for week 2 was to start planning for a micro usability test. Since I had done some formal usability testing during my undergrad studies at USU on https://www.recreation.gov/ and other websites, I was interested to see how this class would handle this process. The main requirements were for us to find users who had never used the Doodle scheduling website to complete three tasks. Usability tasks included setting up a meeting, indicating available times, and reviewing the results of the survey. As a student in the class I did not have to select or determine any of these tasks. But I did have to convert the tasks into a moderator script and a task script to share with participants. I also had to locate participants. Rather than a formal process through a selection survey, I used word-of mouth to locate some of my student employees who had never used the Doodle website before.
Week 3: During this week I reviewed a video of usability test for Cars.com, conducted my own user tests of Doodle.com, and submitted a test report for the experience. Here is the text file of my MicroUsabilityTestReport. My key ah-ha moments where to practice all of the steps I hoped my users would complete. Also that my users where much more comfortable adding their social media profiles to web sites. Additionally, tasks that I thought were easy to complete were not intuitive to users. From an instructional design perspective I also really liked the strategy of reviewing others submissions and then reconfirming my score on my own submission. I think seeing other’s work helped to reassess my own work.
Week 4: This week covered prototypes and sketching and how they help to make ideas concrete and testable. It was a great reminder to not just get in a code but to start out with paper which is cheap and then progress to wire-frames and then perhaps a coded mock-up. The function of Lo-fi prototypes is to “address functionality, basic organization, task flow and coverage” (Prototypes slide 13) During this phase you should also ignore “graphics, programming, and real data”. Mid-fi prototypes should “address lo-fi concerns, plus, layout, interactivity, navigation while ignoring graphics programming and real data” (Prototypes slide 14). Hi-fi prototypes should address lo and mid-fi materials and add “graphic design, interaction details, realistic data” (Prototypes slide 15).
According to Lim, Stolerman, and Tenenberg “The best prototype is the one that, in the simplest and most efficient way, makes the possibilities of a design idea visible and measurable” (Prototypes slide 16).
The next key idea explored this week was sketching. This idea stretched me. During ideation or sketching the goal is to sketch, build ideas and don’t critique and apply “lateral thinking” (Sketching slide 18). Generation is followed by convergence. The assignment this week was to “Sketch 10 different designs for a control interface for a 10,000 elevator.” We were to focus on location, status, and control. I’ve attached a pdf of my InitialSubmission.
Week 5: The final step of the ideation process was converging from the many ideas down to a few ideas and producing 10 variations of those narrowed ideas. Instructional design considerations: Even though edX explains that this course is “self-paced” that pace must be within the specified time frame of the course. In this case, 5 weeks from when it was started. In other words this is not an independent study course done completely on the student’s schedule. As a result of this I needed to skip this final step of creating an additional set of 10 converging sketches. Peer feedback: In this class I felt a lot of empathy for graphic designers who are frequently tasked with coming up with wide variety of ideas and discussing them with others. I also noticed that some peer feedback was encouraging but not helpful to the converging process. So if I were to continue with this activity I would show my sketches to others and see if they could help me to narrow down my ideas. All in all a great class that helped me to review the basics of user experience.