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Week 8: Usability, Usability, Usability

Week 7 was incredibly busy and stressful for all of us. Somehow, you managed to submit your Zen Garden projects and study for our first exam. I’m sure it must feel good to have both of these hurdles behind you. As I said in class after the midterm, I found it incredibly invigorating to watch all of you working on the coding portion of your exams. In the short span of seven weeks, you have come an incredibly long way. I hope you can take some pleasure in knowing that you have learned something very few people know how to do. As the semester progresses, your coding skills will continue to improve, but at this point, you have a solid foundation for anything that comes your way in the world of web design.

In Week 8, we will slow things down a bit and focus solely on usability. By now, each of you should have received an email from me with some feedback about your proposed site for the Usability Report. If you haven’t submitted a proposal, or if you haven’t heard back from me already, please get in touch with me ASAP.

On Tuesday, we will review the Usability.gov website, which you should explore in-depth before you come to class. In particular, you should carefully read through the Step-by-Step Usability Guide. Begin drafting your testing protocols and bring what you’ve got to class on Tuesday. By Thursday, you should have a final draft of your usability protocol, ready to test on one of your classmates. We’ll spend most of the day on Thursday working out the kinks in your tests. After class on Thursday, you’ll be free to begin testing real subjects.

One last administrative note: Friday of Week 8 marks the midpoint of the semester, and midterm grades are due that day. You midterm grade will be based primarily on the first two assignments and the midterm test, but your participation in class, your contributions to the class website, and your personal blog will also influence your grade. If you haven’t been submitting sites for the Links page or posting regular entries to your blog, now would be a great time to start.

I’ll see you in class on Tuesday. If you have any questions before then, just let me know.

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