Chapter 12 describes why evaluation is important, what we should evaluate, where to evaluate, and when to evaluate. It also teaches different approaches and methods that can be used. It is important to evaluate so that we know if our users can use and enjoy our product. It also helps to evaluate because we can find problems earlier in the production process, making them easier to fix. Different companies that have diverse user groups and motivations will ask very different questions when deciding what to evaluate. Chapter 12 teaches us that “aesthetic, emotional, engaging, and motivating qualities are important too” (588). Where and when we evaluate depends on what we’re designing. We learned there are three approaches: Usability testing is important near the end of the design process, making sure there’s different structure and it responds well to the user. Field studies are carried out in more natural environments to see how people would naturally use the product. Analytical evaluation involves heuristic evaluation where knowledge of users is implied and cognitive walkthroughs try to simulate how the user would fix the problem. You can also combine those approaches.
Chapter 14 focuses on usability testing and field studies. Usability testing wants to make your product usable. We are given an example of how the large website, MedlinePlus, uses usability testing and heuristic evaluation. The designer will sometimes make hypotheses about how they think the user will actually user the interface. Field studies are not conducted in controlled environments and want to see how the user will user their product in their daily lives. They can take anywhere from a short time to a very long period of time. Case study examples are also given in the chapter.
I think that it is very important to evaluate the product we’re designing because it gives us a change to step back and see things we may not have realized. Watching the user actually interact with the product will give you insights that you may not have thought of otherwise. I feel like breaking the process down into steps makes it a lot easier to organize your plans. When evaluating the Medline example, they had specific goals and questions. I think there goal of trying to figure out usability problems was a very good one because they can see what problems the user initially turns into, and then fixe those problems. When selecting participants, they knew they wanted people with a medical background, so I think it was a good idea to place recruitment posters in the reception area of two medical practices. They also could have put one in their break room. Developing tasks and performing the tests are also important. It’s smart they chose to read off scripts in the beginning so that all participants would know the same information. Evaluation is definitely a very important part of design, and following the steps allows us to organize our thoughts and game plan.