CSIS 672 – Spring 2005
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT #1
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Due Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Due Time: Noon (via email)
Identify usability issues associated with a familiar (to
Jan. 27, noon) Send email with, at
least, two different user interfaces/usability breakdowns (in decreasing
order of preference). If another
student has selected your first choice, I will let you know.
Feb. 2, noon) Submit a short
report via email (PDF format). You
may use only up to one late day on this deliverable.
Feb 3, beginning of class) Submit
a signed hard copy of your report.
Be ready to present your case study (in 10 minutes). Aim for clarity, succinctness, and
effectiveness. No late days may be
Choose an interactive interface with which you have
experienced some kind of usability breakdown.
Examine how the interface has been designed, paying particular attention
to how the user is meant to interact with it.
down your first impressions, as to what is good and bad about this
interface and the user experience it produces.
The functionality of the system (a thorough description – one
to three sentences).
A list of specific tasks a typical user would want to
perform using this system.
Is the functionality greater,
equal, or less than what the user wants to do?
on the material we have covered (e.g., Norman’s design concepts, and
Nielsen’s usability principles) and any other material you have come
across, and given your answer in (2.b), compile your own set of usability
and user experience goals that you think would be most useful in
evaluating this program (see ID textbook, Ch 1).
the most important usability and user experience goals you have selected
into questions. Then use them to
assess how well this interface fares.
for some kind of usability breakdown due to design that does not make good
use of design concepts and other principles we have covered in class. The problem should be one that came up
as a difficulty in getting the system do what you wanted, due to flaws in
the design of the interaction (i.e., we're not interested in cases where
the system crashed, or the program just didn't work). The example of breakdown can be a
situation where you did something that created a problem or failed to be
able to find the way to do something.
Give a few sentences ("bullet points") characterizing the
breakdown from the point of view of you as a typical user. They should say
briefly what you tried, what you expected, and what happened.
discuss possible improvements to the interface based on your usability
report should have sections that follow the above outline. Include figures and illustrations that
give substantive help to the reader in understanding the user interface,
the usability breakdown, and your analysis. You are encouraged to use screen snapshots and other
graphics (e.g., diagrams) for elucidation; avoid decorative
per course collaboration policy, there should be no discussion of any kind
about this assignment (and possible solutions) with any person other than
the instructor. You are not allowed to discuss/look at someone else’s
solution (including material in books and the Internet) or show your
solution to someone else other than the instructor.
your report, include a certificate of authenticity using this format:
Certification of Authenticity:
I certify that this submission is
entirely my own work, as per course collaboration policy.
________________________ Date: ___________
references on materials (other than the textbooks and handouts) you
consulted to do the assignment.
Grading will be based on your ability to carefully and
succinctly identify the key points of the case study. Work for clarity, succinctness, and effectiveness. (Hint: It might help to think of your
report as a (meta) user interface, and your classmates as your end-users. What are the tasks they would want to
accomplish with your report?)
This assignment comes from the ID textbook (p. 28). It includes elements from an HCI class
assignment at Stanford University taught by Terry Winograd. Here’s a sample
solution from that assignment (note that your specs are somewhat