What Makes an App Great? (or Not-So-Great)
Grade Levels: 6 - 12
Indiana CS Standards: 6-8.CD.2, 6-8.IC.2, ICS-2.6, CSI-5.5, CSII-5.4
CSTA Standards: Coming soon...
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
We have all used apps that we think are great, but we have also used some that we didn't enjoy so much. In this activity we want to dig a little deeper to investigate what characteristics support a good experience by evaluating an app and sharing the evaluation results. #noCode #design #6-12



UX (user experience) research is the careful study of computer applications (apps), the target users, and how well the computer applications serve the needs of the users. Through a systematic process researchers can uncover problems with application and opportunities for improvement.

You can use three approaches to your research.

💬 You can listen to what users say about a product by using techniques like interviews and surveys, 👀 you can observe what user do with a product, and 🤔 you can do an independent review based on heuristics (or "rules of thumb").
All three approaches are valuable and require the researcher to practice empathy for the best results. Each approach has it's advantages and disadvantages, and often UX researchers will use several techniques to develop a thorough evaluation.

Additional Resources


In this activity you will evaluate an application by conducting an independent review using usability principles as a checklist, followed by a written report or class presentation summarizing your findings and recommendations for improvement.


    Choose an application that you would like to evaluate consistent with your teacher's parameters.
    Determine two primary tasks that can be completed with the application by a user to solve a problem. For example, on Youtube 1) a user that wants to repair a faucet searches for a how-to video, and 2) an astronomy hobbyist wants to generate a fan base and starts a channel for her videos.
    Complete a analysis by evaluating the app according to these usability principles for each task. Functionally Correct - Does the application allow you to complete the task correctly?
    Efficient to Use - Is the application allow a task to be done in a timely manner? ✅ Easy to Learn - Is the application intuitive to use the first time?
    Easy to Remember - Does the application support a memorable experience for later visits?
    Error Tolerant - How easy can errors be made? Does the application support undoing errors?
    Subjectively Pleasing - Is the app engaging and provide an appropriate emotional experience? For each of these items provide a descriptive summary of what is done really well or has room for improvement.
    Develop ways to improve the application based on your analysis, whether it is changes to the interface or how tasks are completed. You could sketch how you might improve the interface or create a diagram explaining a new flow for the interaction.
    Summarize your findings and possible improvements. Whether providing a written report or presentation, provide a clear review of your analysis of each usability principle and the problems identified. Followed by your top recommendations for improvement.


Needs Improvement
Analysis of Usability Problems
Each of the usability principles are addressed with thoughtful insights demonstrating empathy for users
Each usability principle was addressed with a meaningful response
The analysis does not demonstrate careful coverage of all the usability principles
Generation of Ideas for Improvement
Ideas are presented that demonstrate a creative process and well-developed response to identified problems
Ideas are presented that appear to address identified problems
Ideas lack clear connection to identified problems or opportunities for improvement seemed to be missed
Organization and Communication
The document or presentation provided a clear and easy-to-follow summary of the work in an engaging manner
The organization and content were largely clear and error-free
The document or presentation lacked coherence or had errors distracting the message

Extension Activities

Think Aloud Protocol

As described in the background section, there are other approaches to evaluating user experience. Consider trying the think aloud protocol. In a think aloud protocol you ask test participants to use the application while they think out loud — simply sharing their thoughts as they move through the interface. Below is a link to a video demonstration.
Sample Think-Aloud Protocol - Lesson 3: Interviews, Observation, and Data Extraction | Coursera

Careers in Design

Are you passionate about crafting beautiful, functional user experiences? Consider doing a career report by investigating opportunities in design like those show in the link below.
Design - TechPoint

Last modified 1mo ago