Individual Assignment: Interaction Flow
and Heuristic Evaluation
213, Spring 2001
Due on Thursday, March 7, 2002
The goal of this assignment is to acquire some familiarity with
interaction flows and the
heuristic evaluation process.
This assignment is individual work. You may discuss the ideas and issues
of the assignment with others, but you are expected to do your own work and
turn in your own writeup.
One of the many search services available at the California
Digital Library site is the SearchLight metadata search
Your job is to do an analysis of this site.
To simplify matters, focus on what is reachable from either Science/Engineering or Social
Sciences/Humanities. Also, don't worry on going beyond the
search results page -- you don't need to follow hyperlinks from
the results page (unless you want to go into this amount of detail).
(If you'd like to do this assignment on a different interface, that
is fine; just get it approved with Marti first via email.)
Draw an Interaction Flow
First write one or two paragraphs describing what the intended functionality of
this interface is (what it is supposed to allow the user to do).
Then, using DENIM's storyboarding facility, Garrett's flow diagrams, or
some other formalism of your choice, draw the interaction flow for
this interface. (You don't need to show the links that emanate from
every dataset. A few representative ones is fine.)
Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation:
Perform a heuristic evaluation on this interface.
heuristic evaluation of this interface. Follow the steps described in class
and in Nielsen Chapter 5. In your writeup, describe at least five
usability problems. It is better if you find five distinct violations,
rather than several instances of the same guideline being violated.
Label each violation with an HE rule number using Nielsen's heuiristics
(reproduced below). (If you want to use a different set of guidelines, you
may, but be sure to include a copy of them in your writeup). More
specifically, for each problem, show the following:
- Which guideline is violated.
- Why (briefly -- no more than a few sentences) you think this guideline
is violated (you can use screen shots if necessary).
- A severity rating for the violation.
- A suggested solution for this problem.
To turn in:
Turn in a hardcopy in class. It is preferable that you also make an
online version in case we want to link to it from the suggested solutions
- Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on,
through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
- Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and
concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow
real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical
- User control and freedom
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly
marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go
through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
- Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations,
or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
- Error prevention
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which
prevents a problem from occurring in the first place.
- Recognition rather than recall
Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have
to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another.
Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable
- Flexibility and efficiency of use
Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the
interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both
inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent
- Aesthetic and minimalist design
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely
needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the
relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes),
precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
- Help and documentation
Even though it is better if the system can be used without
documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any
such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task,
list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
Upcoming due dates:
- Thurs Mar 7: This assignment
- Tues Mar 12: Midterm
- Thur Mar 14: Project Flow Chart, Low-fi Prototype, and Test Results