Web Usability Study
due in two weeks

Conduct a usability analysis of a website starting on the page: The New My Verizon.  Inform participants that they are to find all requested information as quickly as possible.

  1. Conduct the usability study on four people (individually), including a convenience sample of yourself and three other convenient participants:

    • Conduct the first session on yourself without first looking through the website.  That is, the session that you run on yourself should be the very first time that you look at the web site.

    • Start each session by briefing the participant:

      "I will be asking you to look at the website of a real company.  Let's pretend that a friend has come across a product called "Thinkfinity" and has sent you a link that she was given that got her to the information about Thinkfinity.  Thinkfinity is supposed to be a product that teachers can use, and friend believed that you or someone that you know might have an interest. 

      "Your task in this session is to find various pieces of information on this website as quickly as possible.  While you are doing this, I will be taking notes regarding how you found each piece of information and how long it took you to complete each task. 

      "I am not recording your name or any identifying information about you on these notes.  They will be submitted to my professor with my project report as evidence that I conducted this session, but they will be returned back to me when my report is returned.  The professor is not keeping any data and is merely interested in seeing evidence that I have conducted this usability study. We should be done within about ten minutes. 

      "If you would want to quit at any time, just let me know and you may take my notes with you."

    • At the start of each session, open a new browser screen to the URL above. 

    • At the end of each session, debrief the participant with regard to confidentiality, anonymity, and how you will be reporting the data.

  2. In conducting the usability study, use the following as your topic guide (to include issues above). 

    • Do not allow the participant to use any website or external or internal search functions except as a last resort - use of a search function is evidence that the website probably has a usability issue.  Only use links within the website starting with the page at the top of this assignment. 

    • Create a paper form to use in recording your observations of each participant:

      • Observe and record the steps (e.g., menu items used) that each participant takes to complete each task.

      • Record the approximate amount of time that was taken to complete each task. 

      • Record any affective comments that the participant makes.

    • Ask the participant to complete each of the following as quickly as possible, directly reading to the participant anything that is in quotes:

      1. "This page claims that, 'We’ve included dozens of tutorials to help you get the most from all your services.'  Find the page listing these tutorials and print it."

      2. "A friend emailed this link to you, saying that it had information a product for teachers called "Thinkfinity.;  Find the page that explains what Thinkfinity is and print it."

      3. "Find a page listing the price for residential TV and Internet service.  Find that page and print it."

      4. "Find a page listing the nearest store where you could get personal information about the company's products, prices, and billing.  Find that page and print it."

      5. "Find and print a page that shows you what TV listings are available locally."

      6. return to the page that had information about Thinkfinity for teachers.  Print a copy of the page that page."

      7. In addition to tracking the steps and the time to complete each task, note that you must also report measures of likability in your report (below).  This necessarily requires that you take likability measures during the session.

  3. Your written report must contain the following elements:

    1. research objectives
    2. methodology
    3. findings:
      1. utility (does the site do what it is apparently supposed to do?)
      2. usability (can the user easily figure out how to use the site?)
        1. ease of learning (how easily can the user learn to move around the site?)
        2. efficiency of use (e.g., how much time to complete tasks?)
        3. memorability (can the user repeat a task?)
        4. error frequency and severity (how often and how serious are navigation errors?)
      3. likability (user satisfaction)
    4. conclusions
    5. recommendations

  4. In a separate folder, include the forms with your handwritten notes of your observations of each study participant stapled to the pages that each participant printed.  These notes would include comments on the menu items that were selected in attempting to complete the task, the amount of time (in seconds) that the participant required to get through various parts of the task, causes of these times (download times, errors working through links, etc.), the types of errors that a person made while trying to find information, the number of attempts that were made before success or abandonment of the assigned task, comments made by the participant regarding usability, likability, frustration, and etc.  Do NOT put the participant's name on your observation notes.

  5. This is an individual assignment that requires you to make your own observations and to write your own report.


References with which you are expected to be familiar:

http://danson.misericordia.edu/hallofshame/index.php (visual examples of physical usability issues)
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980503.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/991212.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000319.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010121.html
http://www.nngroup.com/articles/top-10-mistakes-web-design/