Teachers create interactive lessons for their students with DocentEDU, which allows users to embed videos, quizzes, and other media into any webpage on the Internet.
When DocentEDU redesigned their resources library and back-end resources manager, they wanted to make sure the new designs would be easy for teachers and administrators to use. My five-person research team was brought in to test the usability of both parts of the DocentEDU system, report our findings, and make recommendations for improvements.
We began by conducting a heuristic analysis of the resources manager and the resources library to discover baseline usability issues. We then identified the primary tasks for our two user types and outlined scenarios for how we could test the usability of the interface in regard to completing those tasks. The five researchers conducted in-person testing together and then each independently tested two additional users remotely.
Using Bruce Tognazzini’s Principles of Interaction Design, I evaluated the usability of the resources library and the resources manager. The following areas for improvement stood out in this initial evaluation:
- Consistency: no clear connection between the two pages
- Learnability: lacks cues for new users to learn the interface
- Color: color is barely used throughout the interface
In-person Usability Evaluation
After conducting a heuristic evaluation of the resources manager and the resources library, we identified the primary tasks for our two user types and outlined scenarios for how we could test the usability of the interface in regard to completing those tasks. The entire research team collaborated to write up a script that included instructions, user scenarios, and tasks for users to complete. We then used that script to conduct usability evaluations with three users at a lab in Minneapolis.
Our evaluations were recorded using Lookback.io, which allowed us to simultaneously capture both the user's screen and their face as they interacted with the DocentEDU platform
Each team member rotated responsibilities during our test sessions. My roles were that of moderator in one session and behind-the-glass observer in two sessions. In each session, the moderator followed our script to introduce the participant to the DocentEDU platform and guide them through the key tasks we identified.
We made sure to keep our prompts open-ended, asking questions like, "Can you show me how you might find a resource that would help you embed a video into an article?" We also asked follow up questions to get users to speak more directly about their expectations and feelings.
Remote Usability Evaluation
Each team member was responsible for conducting two remote usability evaluations, and we had a mixture of moderated and unmoderated evaluations in these remote sessions. Both of my remote sessions were unmoderated, so I had to prepare a detailed packet of instructions for my users to follow along with. This involved modifying our group script and making the technical instructions very explicit.
I sent a link from Lookback.io to participants I identified through personal networks. The users then completed the evaluation on their own, and Lookback.io recorded their sessions for me to view.
Once our in-person and remote evaluations were complete, we added all our individual notes to a Trello board. We collectively organized our data in a way that was meaningful to us and then individually interpreted the findings.
Findings & Recommendations Report
Taking my findings into consideration, I created very low-fidelity wireframes to show how the designs might be improved. I included annotations that tied the design improvements to specific findings from our research.
In order to test the effectiveness of my proposed redesign, I needed to create a prototype that could actually be tested with users. I used Axure to prototype the key interactions of the resources library page.