Usability Test

Usability Test

*Make sure you do the usability readings before completing this assignment.

Part I:

  1. Working in groups of 3–4 (face to face classes) or as an individual (online classes) select a popular website to test.
  2. Create a list of five (5) realistic tasks for a representative user to complete using the website. For example, ask them to find information or perform a function. [10 min]
  3. One person from each group will switch with one person from another group (face to face classes). If you are working as an individual (online classes) then have a roommate or friend be your user.
  4. Give the user the five tasks, one at a time, monitoring their responses. [10 min]
  5. Take note of the following:
  • You are testing the website, not the user. It is ok if they make mistakes.
  • Observe and make notes but do not interfere.
  • Ask them to “think aloud” so you understand why they are making specific choices.
  • Watch their eye and mouse activity (e.g. eye-tracking )
  • Record the following and report your results to the class
    • Time: How long does it take to complete each task?
    • Accuracy: How many mistakes did they make and how fast did they recover?
    • Recall: How much do they remember on multiple uses?
    • Emotional response: How did they person feel about the website?

Part II:

Working as a group or individual, create an HTML page (link to it from this post) with the following information:

  • Your name(s)
  • Link to website and (small) screenshot of website chosen for analysis
  • List the 5 tasks you gave the user
  • Include a brief discussion of the result of each
  • Was the user successful in completing the task?
  • Why or why not?
  • Include a screenshot for each question, whether positive or negative, focussing on the element(s) of the website that led to the success or failure of the task.
  • What recommendations could you make to the website owner?

How A Geek Dad And His 3D Printer Aim To Liberate Legos

Carnegie Mellon Professor Golan Levin with a pile of 3D-printed adapters between construction toy sets.

This story appears in the April 23, 2012, issue of Forbes Magazine.

Last year Golan Levin’s son decided to build a car. Aside from the minor inconvenience of being 4 years old, the younger Levin faced an engineering challenge. His Tinkertoys, which he wanted to use for the vehicle’s frame, wouldn’t attach to his K’Nex, the pieces he wanted to use for the wheels.

It took his father, an artist, hacker and professor at Carnegie Mellon, a year to solve that problem. In the process he cracked open a much larger one: In an age when anyone can share, download and create not just digital files but also physical things, thanks to the proliferation of cheap 3-D printers, are companies at risk of losing control of the objects they sell?

In March Levin and his former ­student Shawn Sims released a set of digital blueprints that a 3-D printer can use to create more than 45 plastic objects, each of which provides the missing interface between pieces from toy construction sets. They call it the Free Universal Construction Kit. The tens of thousands of consumers who now own devices such as MakerBot’s $1,100 Thing-O-Matic can download those files and immediately print a plastic piece that connects their Lego bricks to their Fischertechnik girders, their Krinkles to their Duplos, or half a dozen other formerly incompatible sets of modular plastic blocks, sticks and gears.

One blog called it the “ultimate nerd dad triumph.” But as the proj­ect’s unprintable acronym implies, Levin and Sims are out to raise hackles—particularly those of intellectual property lawyers. “This isn’t a product. It’s a provocation,” says Levin. “We should be free to invent without having to worry about infringement, royalties, going to jail or being sued and bullied by large industries. We don’t want to see what happened in music and film play out in the area of shapes.”

A matrix of Levin’s and Sims’ adapters for every supported construction set. (Click to enlarge)

Levin and Sims didn’t just make near replicas of the commercial toys, they used a measurement tool called an optical comparator to copy the toys’ dimensions to within 3 microns. And then they published those models on the Web. “Our lawyers were a bit concerned,” ­admits Levin, so much so that the pair initially planned to release the project anonymously.

Levin counts himself part of F.A.T. Lab, a hacktivist collective, and he wouldn’t be the first of its members to get into trouble. One of them had his PCs confiscated by the Secret Service last summer after installing software on Apple store computers that secretly took photos of shoppers’ faces.

Levin and Sims have been more careful. The patents on all the toys ­integrated in their kit expired years ago. But a copyright lasts many decades longer than a patent, and that’s the cudgel lawyers are using against downloadable objects. In June of last year Paramount sent acease-and-desist notice to the designer of a 3-D printable cube that resembled the alien technology from the film Super 8. In December the company Games Workshop used copyright takedown notices to pressure the 3-D printing site Thingiverse into removing fan-uploaded ­designs for 3-D printable figurines from the game Warhammer.

Just a month later the Swedish copyright-flouting site the Pirate Bay began devoting a section to downloadable objects. One file, for instance, ­allows users to make 3-D prints of the Guy Fawkes mask from the film V for Vendetta. The mustachioed mask is the favorite symbol of the hacker group Anonymous, whose anticorporate members would much rather pirate the disguise than allow Time Warner, which owns the copyright, to profit from its sale.

A Lego spokesperson says the company has no problem with Levin and Sims’ work but is keeping an eye out for printed objects that infringe on its brand. Neither Hasbro nor any of the smaller companies that sell construction toys responded to requests for comment. So far the pair haven’t ­received a cease-and-desist letter.

As long as Levin and Sims stick with functional objects rather than aesthetic ones, they should be able to steer clear of copyright and trademark law, says Michael Weinberg, a lawyer with the nonprofit Public Knowledge who advised on the project. “You probably can’t stamp the name Lego on them, but if you don’t it’s hard to imagine what rights the companies could assert,” he says. “The real lesson is the vast ­majority of physical things aren’t protected by intellectual property law.”

Even so, Levin calls his project a “shot across the bow” of any company that wants to limit and control how their physical designs are copied, remixed or improved in the future. “Yes, it’s just a toy. But it’s also a harbinger of what’s to come. Things are going to get complicated.”

Yoshihiko SATOH’s SCHEMA (of the Universe)

*image: satoh.jpg
Yoshihiko SATOH / 2012 / the sample image for the exhibition “SCHEMA”

Preface to the exhibition “SCHEMA”

Yoshihiko SATOH is known for his unique sculptures of redesigned certain products, such as motor cycle, audio speaker, musical instrument and its effecter, since his 12 neck guitar “Present Arms” won the 2002 Kirin Art Award.
His expression is based on amplification and dismantlement of the mass produced goods, thus seems an exaggeration of economic growth along industrialism in the late 20th century, whilst brings a sort of pathos in such retrospect behind that beautiful designs.

The title of this exhibition SCHEMA basically means a plan, diagram, or scheme, is a term used in many disciplines to describe an organized pattern that assists to explain or mediate its structure or form.

In this exhibition, SATOH lays out a schema of the universe on the two-dimensional image, that forms a electric control unit derived from an air plane’s cockpit, that projects our surroundings and the environmental issues confronting us, for instance, energy problems, economic values, etc…

The beautiful design of its interface, instrument panel and switches evoke a mandala*, besides its functional aspect associated with that of our urban space.
Thus yields a fractal image of the world as if that interacts with reality, whilst a suggestion for revising ourselves.

* mandala – the sacred art painting in Buddhism and Hindu, forms a diagram depicting the universe.

Artist’s Profile