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CGT 512 - Reading Reflection - Week 2

As this class rolls on, I will be writing more blogs about what I’ve had to read. This will help me stay on task and better understand what I am trying to read. So here it goes.

Nielsen – Chapter 1

Nielsen goes over the basics that any book would go over at the start. The point that I liked the most in the first couple paragraphs was that Nielsen describes design as art and engineering. As I read further, I was glad to see that he thought of design more as engineering as opposed to art. I have always thought there are set ways of doing things (most of the time), and this helped me to see that. I liked the example where he states that data can be gathered on a way a user uses a site, or time it takes to accomplish a certain task on a site. After this data is gathered, a person can see which one is better.

He then goes into what this book is an is not, which I will not cover, as it is useless to you, the ones reading.

Lastly, Nielsen lets us in on fundamental errors that most people/corporations make on their web projects. The one that stood out to me was demoing designs inside companies. It’s good to hear someone say that companies are not the correct testing environment. I know a lot of companies that do this and now I know that it is a bad choice. There are numerous other ones, but for the sake of people reading I will not go into that.

Tullis – Chapter 1

Detailed 3 aspects of usability from the International Standards Organization (ISO).

  1. effectiveness
  2. efficiency
  3. satisfaction

All of these are in relation of how to achieve specified goals in a specific context. The Usability Professionals Association (UPA) definition includes how usability is a product development process that focuses around users. From all the definitions that are around, all provide that usability is user centered.

The chapter then goes to define how user experience is a much broader topic then just usability. Usability ability impacts everyone everyday, even if they know it or not.

Usability metrics measure something about a person, not just characteristics or usual metrics.

The chapter then goes one to describe 10 myths about usability. The one that stood out to me was the myth that ”it’s difficult to to collect reliable data with a small sample size.” After taking a stats class last semester I was sure that there was a definite size needed to conduct a usability study. I am glad to hear that this is not true in this case.

Cooper – Chapter 1

I have never heard of “Goal-Directed Design” until I picked up this book. As I read more into it, that concept started to make more sense to me. Why are people doing things? What are they trying to accomplish? This should be the overall goal of design instead of, “What tasks do I need to make this thing do?” As stated in this book, goals motive people to perform activities. Without goals, where are we? Why am I even on the web? Why am I writing this blog? Without goals there would be no need for activities.

The chapter goes on to talk about how the products in this day and age are not designed for users. They often make the user feel stupid, make users make mistakes, and often require a user to use to much effort to get the task accomplished. I have felt many times like this. I don’t know where something is, when in fact it’s staring me right in the face. An example from personal experience would be taking a class my sophomore year at Purdue, and the entire class was dedicated to learning Microsoft Office. What a joke, there is Google for a reason. I will never have any of goals while using that program, but I guess some people will.

There is this cool little figure in the reading that drew my attention. It illustrated the software development processes evolution. I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming when the first diagram just included build, test, and then ship. I understand where the process is now and I can say that most of the things I would have thought of, but there are still those small steps that help an enormous amount.

The Design of Everyday Things

I liked this article for a couple reasons. First, I liked how it was talking about everyday things that I had encountered. Next, I liked how it gave a bunch of examples from the authors life. I think it helped me to relate more to it on a personal level. I found that the author goes through the same frustration as I do when I get to an item and don’t know where to start or how to use it. I thought, for sure, that a person with an engineering degree from MIT could figure out a microwave no problem, but I guess some of us think differently and what have you.

After the author said to look around and see how many everyday things are around you, I was astonished. I found over 500 things just in the place I live, which is a very nice place by the way. Just messing.


I am a life-long learner, adventure seeker, and front-end developer for @ExactTarget