Product Evaluation in Computing

Introduction and Background

For this project you will evaluate an existing phone or computer application and develop a set of recommendations for improvement — much like a user experience researcher would do to incrementally improve a product or service.
While this project will focus on user experience evaluation, the video below provides a broader overview of user experience design, including the research and evaluation components of the domain. This will provide a good context to think about the skills needed for this project.
How to improve your UX designs with Task Analysis
The Interaction Design Foundation

Examples for Documenting a Task Analysis

Below are two common ways to consider documenting a task analysis. One is tabular and the other is a diagram. No matter which method you choose it is important to capture the details of each step a person takes in completing the task. It is a good idea to go through each step and generate notes on any important features or potential problems along the way.

Usability Principles

Below is a great checklist to use when evaluating the usability of a product or service.
  • Functionally Correct - Does the product simply do what it should?
  • Efficient - Can tasks be completed in a timely manner that is appropriate for the context?
  • Easy to Learn - Can a new user understand how to use it?
  • Easy to Remember - Can a returning user quickly recall how everything works?
  • Error Tolerant - Does the design keep people from making errors or at least allow them to fix errors?
  • Subjectively Pleasing - Is the interaction engaging and provide a positive experience?

Student Objectives:

  • Conduct a task analysis of an existing computer/phone product
  • Complete a systematic review of the product's usability
  • Develop a set of recommended improvements for the product
  • Synthesize a report or presentation to share their findings and recommendations.

Subject Areas: Computer Science, Business, Design, Language Arts

Instructions

1. Conduct a task analysis of an existing computer/phone product

  • Choose a computer application (mobile or desktop) that you will evaluate for a couple tasks. Find an application that has two tasks, each requiring at least three steps.
  • Document a detailed step-by-step description of the tasks in a table or diagram format.
  • Capture screenshot images for each step.

2. Complete a systematic review of the product's usability

  • Review each step in your analysis and record notes on any important features or potential problems along the way.
  • Go through each item in the usability checklist and note any room for improvement with the tasks.
  • Based on your evaluation generate a list of improvements to consider, no matter how small or large.
  • Review your improvement list and identify the top two changes that would provide the most benefit. Consider the effort needed to make the change as well.

4. Synthesize a report or presentation to share their findings and recommendations.

Generate a presentation that summarizes your evaluation and the recommended improvements. Include the following elements in your report.
  • Title of Project and Contributors
  • Description of the application evaluated
  • Screenshots of the application
  • The table or diagram of the task analysis
  • A description (text, annotated images, or sketches) of the proposed improvements to be made.
  • A prompt for the audience to provide feedback on your report.