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Usability, Conceptual Models, and Mental Models: 3 Assignments

Assignment 1: Evaluating Usability and User Experience

I have 3 Assignments in this order. Please read carefully. No need to write References. Last order was good, but the language was very simple. please level up the writing language.


ASSIGNMENT 1 This assignment is intended for you to put into practice what you have read about in this chapter. Specifically, the objective is to enable you to define usability and user experience goals and to transform these and other design principles into specific questions to help evaluate an interactive product.


Find an everyday handheld device, e.g., remote control, digital camera, cell phone and examine how it has been designed, paying particular attention to how the user is meant to interact with it.

(a) From your first impressions, write down what first comes to mind as to what is good and bad about the way device works.

(b) Give a description of the user experience resulting from interacting with it.

(c) Based on your reading of this chapter and any other material you have come across, compile a set of usability and user experience goals that you think will be most relevant in evaluating the device. Decide which are the most important ones and explain why.

(d) Translate each of your set of usability and user experience goals into two or three specific questions. Then use them to assess how well your device fares.

(e) Repeat (c) and (d) using the design principles outlined in this chapter.

(f) Finally, discuss possible improvements to the interface based on the answers obtained for (d) and (e). Your homework should be typed, in 12pt font, double line spaced, and no longer than two sides of letter paper.


ASSIGNMENT 2 The aim of this assignment is for you to think about the appropriateness of different kinds of conceptual models that have been designed for similar physical and digital information artifacts.


(a) Compare the ways the following information artifacts are organized:

• a personal pocket-sized calendar/diary (one week to a page);

• a wall calendar (one month to a page, usually with a picture/photo);

• a wall planner (displaying the whole year). What are the main concepts and metaphors that have been used for each (think about the way time is conceptualized for each of them)?


(b) Using Johnson and Henderson's (2002) framework, describe the conceptual models that underlie the design of

• an electronic personal calendar found on a personal organizer or handheld computer;

Assignment 2: Analyzing Conceptual Models

• a shared calendar found on the web. How do they differ and what are the main benefits compared with the equivalent physical artifacts? What new functionality has been provided? What interface metaphors have been used?


Do you think new users will have problems understanding how these kinds of interactive calendars work? What aspects of the conceptual model might be confusing? Your homework should be typed, in 12pt font, double line spaced, and no longer than two sides of letter paper.


ASSIGNMENT 3 The aim of this assignment is for you to elicit mental models from people. In particular, the goal is for you to understand the nature of people's knowledge about an interactive product in terms of how to use it and how it works.


(a) First, elicit your own mental model. Write down how you think a cash machine (ATM) works. Then answer the following questions (abbreviated from Payne, 1991):

• How much money are you allowed to take out?

• If you took this out and then went to another machine and tried to withdraw the same amount, what would happen?

• What is on your card?

• How is the information used?

• What happens if you enter the wrong number?

• Why are there pauses between the steps of a transaction?

• How long are they?

• What happens if you type ahead during the pauses?

• What happens to the card in the machine?

• Why does it stay inside the machine?

• Do you count the money? Why? Next, ask two other people the same set of questions.


(b) Now analyze your answers. Do you get the same or different explanations? What do the findings indicate? How accurate are people's mental models of the way ATMs work? How transparent are the ATM systems they are talking about?


(c) Next, try to interpret your findings with respect to the design of the system. Are any interface features revealed as being particularly problematic? What design recommendations do these suggest?


(d) Finally, how might you design a better conceptual model that would allow users to develop a better mental model of ATMs (assuming this is a desirable goal)?


This exercise is based on an extensive study carried out by Steve Payne on people's mental models of ATMs. He found that people do have mental models of ATMs, frequently resorting to analogies to explain how they work. Moreover, he found that people's explanations were highly variable and based on ad hoc reasoning. Your homework should be typed, in 12pt font, double line spaced, and no longer than two sides of letter paper. 

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