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An Important Usability Issue of Purdue Recreation Sports Website

In the final report, I found that many important issues were caused by unclear information and missing of important words. They confused users and made them very uncomfortable. When we design the interface, a very important point is making each link clear and clickable. Use proper link names and keep them consistency. I don’t like the website for Purdue Recreational Sports because of the misinterpretation of link names.

For example, when I click Fitness Centers in the Facilities menu, I go to this page.

first page

When I click Indoor Facilities in the Facilities menu, I also get the same page just like before.

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Why the designers use two links to show the same information? It is redundancy of links. We can use indoor facilities as the link name instead of both.

This is not the only problem of link redundancy. Here is another same issue.

Equipment and Sales and Rental link to the same page.

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I think maybe the designer was so careless that he used the same content in two different links.  Since the problem is very easy to solve, I really suggest the designer could delete the unnecessary links.

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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Good/Bad Interface Design

 

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3D Wireframes Are The Future

3D is now very popular and we have seen many 3D in websites. A effective prototype should be created if we want to conduct a user study of 3D website. How can we mock up the system with high fidelity? 3D wireframes is a good way to present that and the next generation in UX must be 3D wireframes.

3D wireframes can display the objects using 3D points which embed z-coordinates inside the Shape field. They can display shadows and depth of the items which is different from 2D wireframe mode. 3D wireframes take the advantage of 3D models which is more flexible, have greater depth and make your prototype stand out. They have high fidelity prototypes which can simulate the real product realistically. These are useful for conducting user study and usability testing.

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These days, it is not very difficult to develop high-fidelity prototype  even though you know nothing about a programming language. There are a variety of simulation tools to choose and allow non-technical UX designers to create their product without coding. We can use AutoCAD Illustrator or other graphic tools to create 3D wireframes.  It is very effective when we match 3D wireframes to a reference model. We don’t need to spend many hours on a very detailed and complex mockup. Just shape the outline and simply the model. The 3D wireframes will be changed sooner or later. It is not a good idea to perfect it.

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We can print 2D wireframes very easily with a printer. How can we print our 3D wireframes? The 3D printer! They are becoming more and more common place in medical field. It is obvious to see that 3D printers will be more  widely used in user experience area. It offers new abilities in design and technology. We can print a real, tangible, three-dimensional object and make a reference. There are a lot of things for us to explore and the future is here!

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Breakthrough Ideas

 

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The Future of User Interface Design

User interfaces are everywhere: on mobile phones, websites, television, washing machine, etc. We have seen a lot of revolution in technology in 2012. So what will 2013 bring? What will the interface be like in 2013?

Focus more on users

No matter how creative the future interface will be, it always focuses on what users need. The goal of user interface design is to satisfy most users and make the interaction more simple and intuitive. In the future, our designers should conduct more detailed research on potential users.  Reveal issues and opportunities, identity users’ needs and experience, and then generate new ideas or insight.

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More smart

IPhone is smart.  Kinect is smart. They know too much about us. The GUI can obtain information from the individual and don’t make user think. In my opinion, these wizards can collect information from us automatically with 100 percent accuracy in the future. That means we will get rid of extensive user input. We don’t need to spend time in switching between screens. So cool! They can capture our emotions and voices. They will communicate with users naturally and instantly.

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Rich interaction and customizations

There are many types of user interfaces and we need to explore more in the future.  For example, users can hack a wearable computer with a heads-up display. The new tech can recognize people’s body language and voice. They save a lot of things in memory and know what we like and dislike to help us make better choice. Moreover, there is a new trend of intelligent wear- neural based interfaces. We can tweet, post even send emails in the brain. What an amazing future! The new tech covers various augmented reality and data visualization technology. Machine will be part of our life and behaves just like our hands, feet and even brain.

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Breakthrough Ideas

 

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Class Reflection of The Usability Report Presentation

The final usability report is a huge project and we spent a lot of time and effort on this report. We made a specific plan for the test- define each task, design questionnaires, install instruments, recruit participants and so on. We did pilot study twice and modified our test procedure again and again. During the formal test, we observed users’ behaviors carefully, did some short interviews and recorded all the metrics. After that, we analyzed our data and then identified 13 usability problems. Three are very critical problems, five have medium severity and five are minor problems.  Because we have a lot of things to be included in the final report, it has more than 100 slides. Hopefully, Dr. V , this will not push you over the edge.lol

Our presentation went smoothly. I found all our presentation skills have been greatly improved. We know how to present our idea effectively. Use one slide for one idea. Pick the most critical things. Keep it simple and clear. Time is limited and we can not waste even one second for unnecessary information.

Moreover, I learned a lot of things from other groups.

  1. The first group did a perfect job and it is very interesting to ask users some website experience analysis questions. Do you feel belonging on this website and what makes you feel that? Do you feel inspired on the website and what makes you feel that? I’d like to think more about WEA in the future research.
  2. The presentation of the second group impressed me a lot because of their slides. Beautiful design and layout! A clear and effective interface! It was a user-centered presentation and made me comforting. A good looking slide that rocks! Pay more attention to the creation of each slide.
  3. There are many questions overlapped between the third group and our group. However, the results from the data are totally different.  We use different methodology, different subjects and different metrics. That’s why we got different answers. The demographic of participants is critical for a scientific research. We should recruited a criterion sample of participants who are mostly appropriate representatives of potential user.
  4. The fourth group recruited nine participants. Great job! Their findings are different from ours too. But we identified some common issues. For example, the PDF file of CGT MS handbook is too hard to read. The separate menus on the right and middle areas confuse users. A drop down menu will be more helpful. Using screenshots to present issues and recommendations is clear and effective. Love that so much!
 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Thoughts & Ideas

 

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USPS Website-A Good Design Example

Recently I want to mail some things to my parents. So I found USPS website and really love it! It is user-friendly and very helpful. I can find what I need effectively. A successful web site should be user-centric design and do not make users think.

Clear Navigation Menu

There are five navigation menus on the homepage-ship a package, send mail, manage your mail, shop and business solutions. They all have drop down menus which present more concrete information. On the left area of the page, a toolbar grabs my attention quickly. The four quick tools are most frequently used functions. This makes me think of our usability test for CGT website. If we test the USPS website, I am pretty sure that most participants have no problem with primary tasks on the website.

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One page, one primary function

When I clicked one drop down menu such as schedule a pickup, the page is very simple instead of complex. All the information on the webpage is related to schedule a pickup. Apparently, I can achieve my goal in 1 minute and even don’t need to scroll the page. A perfect example for a user-friendly service! I feel unobtrusive and comforting.

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The two points really make sense to me. I think that is why I feel comfortable because the website meets my expectations and lets me achieve my goal easily and efficiently.  However, I have a suggestion for the interface of the website. Customer service is critical to USPS.com. But the designers put this information on the upper area of the website and use small fonts to show that. Why not add a menu of customer service to the top menu so that user can find it quickly? By doing so, I feel a sense of belonging to USPS.

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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Good/Bad Interface Design

 

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Some Bad Design Examples of Login Forms

Logging into website is a very usual way for us in daily life. It has been part of our daily routine. However, some login forms often frustrate me and make me confused.  For a clear and user-friendly interface, these login forms should be redesigned. I list three bag design examples. All the three websites are very familiar for us and we need to log into them almost every day.

Purdue Federal Login Form

Everytime when I log into my Purdue Federal account, I feel very uncomfortable because the login form separates user name and password. First, I need to enter my user name and click login.

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Then I arrive at the web page which asks me to enter my password.

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I understand that the designer wants to verify users’ names before they enter their password. However, this interface is very inconvenient for a customer who frequently uses the website just like me. For a member who usually logins his or her account every other day, it is a small probability event to forget the username.

Amazon.com Login Form

I love Amazon and buy things from the website regularly.  However, I don’t like its login form. The problem is that there is a sign in button for customers who already has an Amazon account and a start here link for new customer in the drop down menu of sign in your account. However, when I click sign in, first the webpage requires me to enter my email address and then it asks me a question: do you have an Amaon.com password? The radio buttons below the question grasp my attention. I need to make a choice between a new customer and a returning customer. I don’t know why the designer makes such a simple login form so complicated. As an old friend of Amazon, whenever I click sign in button, I don’t want to see the option and make a choice because I have already registered. Instead of using radio button option, I think a secondary sign up button can be considered.  As a user-centered design, ease of use is critical for users. Just make things easy for us to do that.  Remove distractions, any unnecessary fields or whatever confused stuff.

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Comcast Login Form

I still remember the first time I paid my Internet fee. I am so frustrated and annoyed just because I can not find the login page! I think there should be a menu or link or button of signing in but there is nothing like that.  Am I stupid or the website is stupid? The blue navigation menu is prominent so I hovered my mouse and looked for the keyword such as pay, register, and login. However, the top menu is all about their products and service. Even the customer menu doesn’t have a login form.  Accidentally I moved my eyes toward the upper top of the page and found another white menu. Thus I clicked my account and found the login form.

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I also noticed that when I scrolled down, there was a sitemap at the bottom of the page.

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I think the login form is very important for the customers who use Comcast. Why not use clean and concise field labels to present the form? It can help users to access their account more quickly and easily. Making users feel comfortable is always a goal for a website designer. So we need to constantly ask what we can do to make users achieve their goal more simple and efficient. By doing so, we can get high rates and more users.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Good/Bad Interface Design

 

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How To Be a Good UX Designer

There is a huge need for talented user experience designers in the US now.  We should grasp the opportunity and practice ourselves a lot. But what makes a good UX designer and how can we prepare for that? There are several skills and qualities which is very important in my opinion to be a good UX designer.

1. Passion and curiosity to learn about people and technology

As a user experience designer, we should always keep our eyes open to the world and see different things instead of adapting to the environment. We have passion for learning more about people when they interact with digital products. We are very curious about the way things are going on and how we can make stuff better. The passion and curiosity drives a lot of the creative thinking in the user experience area. Without curious, energetic and creativity, new ideas can not emerge. Remember that we are focusing on real person. We observe users’ behavior, talk with them, ask them questions, spend time with them and have a purpose to enhance their lives. What a wonderful thing! We use technology to make things better and even better. Everytime, ask why, why things goes like this, why we need to change that, etc. Everywhere, we have a desire to know about potential users. By doing so, creative ideas are around us.

2. In depth knowledge of user-centered design techniques and principles

Instead of only being familiar with user-centered design, we need to have a deep knowledge and understanding of these guidelines and principles. On one hand, we should have the ability to design the products like website and IPhone app with Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator or other design tools. On the other hand, we have the ability to apply cognitive psychology and human computer interaction techniques to evaluate and test these systems. For example, we can choose the most appropriate personas, scenarios and create storyboards, wireframes and rapid prototyping.  With implementing user interface guidelines and standards, we collect data, analysis data and interpret results to meet business needs. The qualification is that we should have a strong understanding of the design process and deliver results that satisfy product goals best.

3. The ability to conduct scientific research

We are proficient with various tools and we know user-centered design guidelines. Why do we need to be a researcher? To answer the question, it is necessary to learn that UX designer is not just a designer, it is more like a versatile person. You are good at many things, especially conducting qualitative research to think about what user are thinking about.  If we go through some UX design positions, we can find that many requirements are a combination of graphic design skills, wireframing, rapid prototyping, designing researches such as user interview, usability testing, ethnographic research and so on.  A good user experience designer should be familiar with these researches and skilled in planning research, choosing the right qualitative method, collecting and analyzing data. Moreover, a good presentation of your findings and results is the key skill too. This is what we are doing in our CGT 512 class now. These things are closely related to our professional growth. Hopefully, we all can do a great job!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Breakthrough Ideas

 

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