Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 5 Reading

This week's reading on usability testing was really interesting and informative. I really liked how the author added the section about what actually happens during a usability testing situation, because I knew what usability testing was, but I did not know what should be said to the person doing the testing during the actual situation. I thought that some really good advice was offered during the two chapters this week. The author said that often times, designers do not like to share their unfinished work until they are at a stage of near completion. I think that this is a very true statement, and that I think I am often guilty of this as well. However, it is a good point to consider that the more people who look at your design early on, the more likely you are to find any issues quickly, and have the ability to make the necessary changes to the design before it gets to close to the end and you run out of time. I liked his idea to use the "cubicle test", which was the process of showing a sketch or draft of a design to the person in the cubicle next to you and getting their feedback. Although I do not have a cubicle, I think that this is a process that I could definitely start employing with my fellow students and teachers. I could even start showing more design work to people who are not in the design community to start looking at some of my in-process work because, at the end of the day, those people are the target audience for design. This was something that I had never occurred to me before. It seemed like showing my work to fellow designers was the best way to get a critique on something, and maybe even get some new ideas from them. But now I think that it is just as (if not more) important to show them to the people who will see them and not be able to break them down into techniques, styles, or any "design speak" like fellow designers can, and just simply see their initial reaction. All in all, I think that these chapters had great advice, and I will be utilizing this new advice from now on!

I think that the biggest frustration for me as a user, is the navigation portion of the site, and I also think that it is one of the most important portions of a site, and can easily become confusing. I found two sites that I think have great user experiences, and one that definitely does not.

Bed Bath and Beyond
This site has always irritated the hell out of me, due to its errors in usibility in regards to the menu bar. When you hover over a category, an additional subcategory menu comes out the side. And then another sub category menu comes out of that. When I went on the site today to link it to this post, I noticed that they now have an option to "turn menus off". Obviously, if they need to take the time to turn the menus off because people are so frustrated at them, they should just be removed.

Journeys has a site that I think provides a really clear and user friendly user experience, even with all of the visual noise that is happening on the site. Whenever you hover over a link, it highlights yellow and in some cases, brings up a drop down menu, which stays there until you click away (unlike Bed Bath and Beyond) and gives great options to filter your search for the shoes that you're looking for. Even though there is a lot going on in the site, I think that it works well with the company's audience and the attitude that they have, and I think that they have a pretty well made website.

American Eagle
Besides the fact that I love all of the clothes that American Eagle sells, I also really love their website. I think that it is organized very well and has great usability. Instead of dealing with drop down menus that close if you hover too far away, American Eagle has everything listed in categories, so that the user can easily find what they are looking for. As you hover over the links, they are lit up to show what you are going to be clicking on, and that category remains highlighted so that you really know where you are. The shopping cart is located in the bottom right corner, and stays stationary even while scrolling through pages. I like this because I think that people will appreciate the fact that they can see their shopping cart at all times and can manage it more easily. I think that this site has great navigation, making it have a great user experience.

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