week 3: intro to design and usability

A bit of background since I am starting at week 3 and did not write about the previous weeks. I am halfway through my Intro to Design and Usability course at Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). P2PU “is an open community that enables learning with and from each other” all the courses are free and online.

A couple reasons why I decided to take this course:

  • Currently unemployed so have a bit of time on my hands
  • Love to learn
  • Already got my MBA and spent a nice chunk of change
  • Wanted to add a new skill set to my resume

To give people an idea of the popularity of the course over a hundred people applied, yes there was an application process, only about 25 or 30 people were accepted into this course.  I feel lucky to have been accepted.  Click current courses to see a complete list of what is offered.  If you want to find out about future courses join the announcement list.

Back to Intro to Design and Usability.  Week 1: Why is Design Important?
We were asked to look at Craigslist and useit both created over 10 years ago and to consider their design.  Would we redesign these sites or leave them alone? Because I have used Craigslist almost since the beginning I would not change a thing, and the consistency from city to city makes it easy for the user to navigate through.

Week 2: Web vs. Print
In addition to online articles we also read about the various graphic file types – jpeg, gif, png, svg – I had never really thought about the mathematical properties of each. One of our assignments was to run a color blindness test on one good site and one bad. I used CheckMyColours and the results for my good example, Mashable and bad example, docuweeks (assisted with marketing 1 of the films) were pretty similar.

Mashable

  • Testing done on 1256 elements
  • Luminosity Contrast Ratio: 53 failures
  • Brightness difference: 52 failures
  • Color difference: 151 failures
  • DocuWeeks

  • Testing done on 698 elements
  • Luminosity Contrast Ratio: 55 failures
  • Brightness difference: 55 failures
  • Color difference: 236 failures
  • Week 3:  User Behaviour

    I do not know if it is because it is the halfway point or because most of the information in the readings is new, unlike the previous weeks where most of the readings were concepts I had come across or what was presented was more intuitive.  Guess once you add a real life human being into design things go awry.  While very intense it is also really fun to learn about eye-tracking (I once partook in an very brief eye-tracking study), Z-Pattern, etc.

    Our assignment to design for the average user (see article) was a bit difficult, since it has been awhile since I was an actual average user.  It is definitely important to place oneself in the shoes of the average user because we were all there once and many are still at that point.

    We also had the opportunity to play with the markup tool and showcase what parts of a web page caught our attention or were ignored.  Here is one example of the tool in action.

    The last online class I took was in 2005 or so and that was strictly go to a website look at the assignments email the instructor receive feedback…rinse and repeat.  This class is very engaging, the instructor and a couple of moderators host virtual office hours that were set up according to the best times the class entered into a virtual calendar.  In addition, there are optional weekly presentations on BigBlueButton and many other resources to interact with classmates and the instructor.

    I am still learning a lot and hopefully by the end of the course I will be able to improve on the design of this website.

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