Assignment 7: Field Trip Analysis

For my group, group C, we were asked to visit the University Information Technology Services (UITS) Usability Lab. On the way there, I really was not quite sure what to expect from this field trip. I honestly had no clue what the UITS Usability Lab did. Once I arrived, I learned that they were the lab that tested user experience for all products produced by UITS (including but not limited to OnCourse). In the lab there was an observation room and a testing room. The two rooms were separated by a door and a one- way mirror. In the tester room, the user would sit down and follow a number of commands. In the observation room, the observer would watch a real time monitor displaying what is presented on the tester’s screen along with a complex application designed to document and display every aspect of the human and computer interaction (every click, movement, times etc). The observers would then review the data and make recommendations to the programmers about how to make the entire sofware or just one process within the software more efficent and effective.

It seems to me having a lab like this one is essential in any application design process. Being able to analyze the user’s interaction with the computer to accomplish a task is vital in efficient and effective application design. My group’s idea is to incorporate mobile technology with Google Maps to create a more successful mobile mapping/ navigation application. A strength with using a Usability Lab would be that we would be able to observe how long it takes users to find their destinations using differnt search methods. We would also be able to observe how responsive the user is with our navigation technology. However, a challenge we may face is mobile integration. The usability lab is connected to a desktop PC, not a data phone. Also, the desktop’s location is fixed whereas a mobile phone’s location is constantly changing. Having a Usability Lab would be vital, but the Usability Lab found in UITS would not accomplish the job.

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