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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 18 May 2006 08:55:13 -0400
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Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
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I'm writing up a usability report for a client and something keeps 
coming back to me. None of the pages have clear titles or names, and 
I wonder if that makes it harder for users to think about them.

I found that they have one page too many in a particular editing 
workflow with similar commands scattered across those pages. I think 
it's hard for people to know where to go to do a task because they 
can't tell the pages apart.

One way to tell pages apart is to think, "Now go to the editing page" 
or "Now go to that page called 'Do your homework' " or "Next, let's 
find that page with the thumbnails of my document." But if the pages 
are all alike, it seems to damage the ability to build a mental model 
of the system. I think a model is important here, even if it's 
temporary (for the duration of one session) because people go back 
and forth among the pages and need to be able to find them.

Whaddya think? Lemmeno.

thanks                                  -- hs

PS: This was an eight-participant study. I prefer a smaller number, 
but we wanted to work with existing customers and new users (even 
though they're really the same user type). So I ran the study on a 
Tuesday and a Thursday to give myself a day off in between because 
running a study is really hard work. I think the day off helped me 
think about the issues.

It was during the very last session that the problem of the confusing 
workflow crystalized. I was thinking to myself "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We 
know about all those problems. What else is new?" while remaining 
very professional on the outside (I checked the tapes!). Then the 
light bulb went off. Maybe four people isn't enough to find most of 
the problems. Or maybe I should have worked harder to figure this out 
sooner. Or maybe I should just adjust my attitude...

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Hal Shubin, Interaction Design, Inc.
617 489 6595

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