Usability Methods in Comp Classes: Computers & Writing 2009

by Shreelina Ghosh, Michigan State University

refers to the ease with which websites succeeds in providing info to the users, thus helping them make decisions regarding buying products or services from them

metaphor: Mouse going through the maze to get to the cheese. That’s what usability and composition are about. Interesting metaphor. It’s not one I would have come up with.

She is quoting Jakob Nielsen.

Usability eval:
1. assess typical user
2. recruit users
3. conduct a heuristic review
4. record functions of website
5. compose a sit of ?s for usability
6. perform test and record data
7. conduct quantitative and qualitative.

Shared goals between usability with composition
Unerstanding audience
Effective articulation, clarity without oversimplification (Gopen and Swans, 550)
predict expectations
satisfaction of client/reader

Why this method could work
Students generally know some websites don’t work
theory of web eval can be easily aligned to dev of the writing process
nature of assignments can give space for students to work with topics of their own academic interest- in their own disciplines

Assignment One
Reflective essay: 4-5 page paper based on a technological product or interface or service that they have interacted with. (First time with Facebook. What was not intuitive?)

Related reading: “My Financial Career” by Stephen Peacock, a short story- confused with opening a bank account

Assignment Two
During the assignments, students will be asked to analyze a digital document.

She spent not long on this.

Assignment Three
Research project.
Audience analysis
Explore spaces: library exploration for annotated bib assignment
Main paper/project

This is an interesting idea. Library exploration… physical usability.

That’s what the First Colony/wheelchair essay is about. Maybe I should write it that way. Seems like usability is interdisciplinary.

“Strategy Plane” ch 3 in Jesse Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience
Shannon Ford’s “Creating Quality Personas”
Walter Ong;s “The Writer’s Audience is Always a Fiction”
DB Park’s “The Meanings of Audience”

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