For the first part of this week, we’ll get to work on the first part of the Usability/Text-to-Hypertext project. So far, we’ve mostly talked about the second part of the project, where you convert a previously written words in a row essay into a hypertext. (And if you haven’t sent me a copy of the text your converting, do that right away!) For the first part of the assignment, we’re going to do a mini-/quasi-/self-guided usability test of the new English department web site.
Take a look at the assignment and at the schedule, but here’s the basic plan:
Let’s brainstorm a bit about the quasi-usability survey/test we want to put together. Think about the things we’ve read so far and also the questions you would have as a student: what questions do you typically want answered when you go to a program web site? For example, one of the questions/tasks I think is pretty obvious is “what are the required courses for this program?” I have some others in mind, but I want to hear from you: what would you suggest?
Then I’ll post 5-6 questions/tasks to keep in mind as you look through the English department web site on a Google form this Wednesday. You’ll need to complete that form and then post to your web site a brief (300-500 word) summary of your overall impressions of what it was like to be a user of these two web sites.
You’ll post this summary to your wordpress.com web site by the end of the day on this Friday! I know that’s kind of quick, but I don’t think this will take folks a ton of time.
So, let’s hear some suggestions and/or questions here!
This is where we’ll talk about part 2 of Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy and how we’ll be doing our own modified quasi-usability testing of a couple of the EMU English Department web site. But before I get to that, let me make what I assume is an obvious observation about Krug and how we’re approaching usability testing here.
Krug’s primary audience is business people and not college students. This is true with all of these kinds of books (including Redish and Freeman and Robson), and I think it means you have to read with and through the assumptions the writers are making. Krug thinks his audience is involved in some kind of business with a web site and the main reason to work on usability testing is to reach more customers and sell more stuff, and he’s also assuming that as a business, you have some resources to spend on this. Note the way he talks about teams, budgets for testing, getting executives on board, and so forth. Obviously, that’s not us. So for our purposes here, we need to approach this book mostly metaphorically and as advice we might follow in more sophisticated business settings.
Having said that, there’s a lot of interesting stuff here. A few observations after the break:
Here’s a video/pep-talk that covers a number of things that you need to have done by the end of the day today and some encouragement as you go on with the Codecademy exercises. Watch the video (it’s just over 10 minutes), but a few bullet points for here:
Have your first progress report on the semester of social media posted on your 444 wordpress portfolio site.
Make sure you send me a copy of the text you want to convert into a hypertext.
Just the middle of week 2 and there’s already so much going on! I know it’s busy and I’m getting caught up on some things too, but remember: in the 7.5 week format, it is as if we’re already almost a month into the class. Time flies!
So let’s keep pressing on here, and this is where we’ll start talking about the first four chapters of Janice (Ginny) Redish’s Letting Go of the Words. As I think will (hopefully) become clear fairly soon, both Redish’s and Steve Krug’s advice will become invaluable when you get into The Usability/Text-to-Hypertext Project, both in terms of the reviews we’ll do of EMU web sites and as it relates to the web sites you will put together based on a previously written text.
Speaking of which: you need to email me by Friday of this week to tell me what previously written text you’re going to transform into a web site!
This is where we’ll start talking about Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. Before we get started here, let’s talk very briefly about “Usability Testing.”
I thought I’d set up a post here to try to lend some clarity and explanation to the 444 wordpress, mainly because there are a few things due in the next few days that need to be posted to your wordpress portfolio site. So below here is a bit more information, a link to my example, and hopefully this can be a space to ask some questions.
This is where we’ll talk about “The Real Life Social Network v 2″ by Paul Adams. First off, don’t be intimidated by the length because even though it is over 200 slides, it really does move along pretty quick. I read/reviewed it in about 30 or so minutes. Second, I can’t remember exactly how I came across this piece, but I swear it was something that someone posted on Facebook. More after the break. Continue reading →
This is where we’ll talk about the first two chapters of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. I started assigning this book a few years ago when my emphasis turned more toward social media and writing rather than coding for the web. I probably could have assigned something more recent– the hardback for this book came out in 2008, and I thought about assigning another more current Shirky book I will probably reference a couple of times this term called Cognitive Surplus. But I think Shirky is a really interesting writer and thinker, both accessible and smart, and I think this is still a really relevant and useful book. So I decided to use it again for this summer. Maybe for the last time, I’m not sure.
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