RE: Simple Exercises for Students

28 Nov 2004 - 1:45am
641 reads
Steven Streight

For simple warm-up exercises for an interaction design
fundamentals class, with a web or application slant,
tricky but not horrible, requiring a few hours to do,
due in one week, I suggest:

1. Have them choose a web site on a topic they're
interested in, and make a list of all the aspects that
could be improved, even if they're not sure what the
solution could be. If they have suggestions, like "why
not make this a check list, instead of a drop down
menu?", have them provide these specific improvements.

2. Have them try to find a web site that seems as
close to 100% easy to use and full of relevant content
and functions as possible. Ask them to explain, in
detail, what makes the site easy to use, and why they
consider it full of relevant, desirable information.

3. Have them describe in detail what they think the
most common interaction design errors or problems are,
based on their web usage experience. What frustrations
do they seem to be repeatedly encountering, and then
"Google" the term and see what experts are saying
about these problems. Such problems as: Automatic Page
Reloading, Link Rot, Broken Forms, Comment Posting
Malfunctions, Comment Spam, Pseudo Hypertext Links
(links in editorial text that are actually ads taking
you to irrelevant content on a sponsor site), Print
Format Text Online (rather than scan/skim format),

4. Have them sit down with a friend and give the
friend a list of task assignments to accomplish, and
the URL of a web site to perform these tasks at. Make
it a site the friend has never gone to, perhaps one
the student is very familiar with and can easily write
up some typical tasks that users attempt or desire to
perform. Have the student write notes on the
difficulties the friend encounters and the comments
made by the friend. This is an introduction to User
Observation Testing, and Interaction Design in
general. The student may be very surprised at the
performance of the friend. Student should say: "I'm
testing the site, not your intelligence or computing
skills. Relax and do your best."

Hope this gives you some good direction.

Steven Streight
EMAIL: vaspersthegrate at
ALT EMAIL: astreight at

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