Instructor: Sheelagh Carpendale
CPSC 481: Foundations of Human Computer Interaction

Assignment #2: Usability Studies


  • Grading Sheet
  • Assignment Details
  • System and example tasks for the usability study
  • Discussion of guidelines for user observation
  • Description

    This assignment is a hands-on exercise on qualitative evalution. Its immediate purpose is to give you experience conducting a usability study. Methods used in this study include conceptual model discovery, strict observation, think-aloud, constructive interaction, questionnaires, and interviews. Because of the economy of these methods, you are expected to be able to apply them in your actual work practices.

    Your group will pretend it is working for a company that is developing the system. You will use each other as subjects, applying the various methodologies. The system examined by the class changes every year. Systems investigated have included:

  • Air Canada Online: an airline-specific flight schedule and booking system. System and example tasks here.
  • The Degree Navigator system that supposedly helps students at the University of Calgary plan their courses. System and example tasks here.
  • The IBM RealPhone system, a phone interface strongly tied to a highly realistic telephone metaphor. System and example tasks here
  • The commercial travelocity web site, which lets people make on-line travel reservations. System and example tasks here
  • The University of Calgary Dobis library catalog system, which allows students to look for books in the library by name, title, etc.
  • The University of Calgary CD-ROM Booking System, which allows students to book CD-roms and equipment at the public library.
  • XWais, a front end to the Wais text indexing system that is used locally to access the HCI Bibliography.
  • Deliverables

    Your group will deliver a substantial technical report written to the (imaginary) vice-president of the company that commissioned the study. It must include your observations, the findings, the major problems detected, and some design recommendations. Your report will briefly contrast the methods used, recommending which ones should be adapted in future study.