Assignment 3: Heuristic UI evaluation and redesign

Change log: 

  • 25 Sept: Added a paragraph that warns about over-specification in the problem formulation stage, and improved the page layout.
  • 27 Sept: In the Announcements page, answered to three clarifying answers about the scoping part.

This assignment will give you practical experience on the use of design/usability heuristics for UI evaluation and UI design. You will be analysing the UI of timeanddate.com, which is a website that provides different time-related little tools and services.

Screenshot of timeanddate.com

Screenshot of timeanddate.com's landing page.


Your task is twofold: 

1) using heuristics, evaluate the usability problems of the website, and 

2) sketch a solution, also using the heuristics.

Organize your report into these sections:

1. Problem formulation

Before heuristics can be used, you need an understanding about the context with respect to which the UI should be evaluated. Therefore, use the PACT (people, activities, contexts, technologies) framework to define in more detail the important characteristics of people, the activities, contexts and technologies that relate to the use of timeanddate.com. That is, what are the people like that use it, what activities they are carrying out when visiting the website, and so on. Present each PACT aspect separately and describe how that will help you frame your subsequent analysis. 

You don't need to overspecify your scope. I.e., don't define, for example, that with respect to people (P), you are only going to focus on left-handed teenagers; that would not make any sense. But you need to create a picture of what your evaluation is about, and here it is useful to think what aspects of P, A, C and T are relevant to the evaluation and design tasks in this assignment.

2. Usability evaluation 

From the lecture slides, choose either Norman’s “7 principles” or Shneiderman’s “8 golden rules” as your list of heuristics. Explain why you choose one or the other. Using your chosen heuristics, evaluate the frontpage of timeanddate.com. Present your observations for each heuristic as a sub-section. In each subsection, present your observations and describe how critical the problem is.

In doing the evaluation, visit the pages that open by clicking the links, to see where each link leads the user to. But for the purposes of limiting the size of the exercise, do not start analysing those pages in detail.

3. UI improvement principles

Choose the most relevant heuristic of the previous section’s evaluation. Focusing on that heuristic, and on the primary activity that you framed in your problem formulation (section 1), think what an improved UI of timeanddate.com could be like: how it would be organized and what its interaction could be like. You don’t need to draw anything, but you can, if that helps you communicate your improvement’s idea.