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SUNY Old Westbury User Interface and Task Analysis Discussion Paper

  • Analyze user problems to inform user-centered design solutions


The IT department at MYU (MY University) is considering a new student portal. The current portal has been in use for a number of years, and learners are encountering numerous issues regarding usability. The university has decided to start fresh. Therefore, it has conducted a task analysis of what students have to do to register for a class within the current portal. As a usability engineer, you have been asked to analyze the issues that exist within the user interface and task analysis, then write a report to be shared with university officials. Within this report, you will provide recommendations and create user personas. Additionally, you have been asked to create a paper prototype that addresses issues identified within the task analysis and conduct an observation of someone using your prototype.

A woman looking at a laptop screen and taking notes


In order to create your 2- to 3-page report, you will have to experience the registration process using the demonstration system and Student Portal Task Analysis provided in the Supporting Materials section. Your project also involves an in-person observation of someone using the paper prototype you create in response to the issues you identify within the student portal. Plan accordingly; you will need time to recruit your subject, complete the observation, and document the experience.

Within your report, you must:

  • Identify user issues within the task analysis that impact usability
  • Provide written recommendations, informed by user-centered design, that could be implemented to improve usability. Your recommendations should address:
    • Effectiveness
    • Efficiency
    • Utility
    • Learnability
    • Memorability
  • Create three user personas based on the user profiles and task analysis. These personas will represent information regarding user needs (register for class, complete and turn in homework, access portals appropriate to major, complete assigned readings, petition to graduate), experiences, and behaviors when interacting with the student portal. For each persona, identify the user’s:
    • Age range
    • Familiarity or comfort level with technology
    • Time of access (e.g., early morning, late at night)
    • Method of access (e.g., PC, phone)

Additionally, you must:

  • Construct a paper prototype that resolves issues found in the task analysis. The paper prototype is a paper representation of the design that shows the tasks and subtasks the user must accomplish to complete the intended goal. Users are able to “interact” by pointing to a representation of a button, menu, or other options available through the interface. The designer (you) would present another paper representation showing the screen corresponding to the chosen option. Your prototype must address:
    • Navigation issues that users encounter
    • Language issues within the portal
    • Issues that users cannot recover from in the current portal
    • The needs of all three personas
  • Conduct an observation of someone using your paper prototype. You may recruit a coworker, family member, or friend. You will need to conduct this observation in person. During this observation, you will provide specific guidance to lead the user through the prototype while documenting their experience and your observations using the Prototype Observation Template provided in the Supporting Materials section. Plan accordingly; you will need time to recruit your subject, complete the observation, and document the experience.


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