05-830, User Interface Software, Spring, 2003

Homework #1

Evaluate the Usability of a User Interface Tool or Toolkit using Neilsen's Heuristic Analysis

10% of grade. Jan 13-Jan 21

User Interface tools are generally designed to be used by programmers, but programmers are people too! Pick a user interface tool or toolkit. It doesn't have to be an interactive tool -- you can evaluate a library or framework. For example, so candidate tools are: Visual Basic, MacroMedia's Director, MacroMedia DreamWeaver, Apple HyperCard, Java Swing, Microsoft Visual C++, Microsoft MFC, Metrowerks Codewarrior, PalmOS toolkit, etc.

Hopefully, everyone in the class can pick a different toolkit to evaluate

Write a heuristic evaluation of the tool using Neilsen's Ten Usability Heuristics. Note that the list of heuristics on the web site are slightly different than those in his book. To avoid confusion, please use only the ones that Nielsen lists on his web site. Your report should discuss both problems and things done well. You should include pictures or code or documentation snippets that illustrate each of your points. Each point should be annotated with the particular guidelines that are being violated or being followed. If violated, you might suggest a fix. You should try to come up at least 10 points that illustrate at least 5 different guidelines. I am looking for insight, subtlety and depth (thus saying "the system doesn't have good color choices because it doesn't use color" is pretty trivial and won't count for much).

Prepare a ten (10) minute presentation of your evaluation to be presented in class on Jan 21. Please make sure your presentation is only 10 minutes (so you should practice!) so we can fit everyone's in during class. Prepare PowerPoint slides or a live demonstration to illustrate your points to the class and instructor.

If you are not familiar with Heuristic Analysis, read about it in Neilsen's text, chapter 5, and/or from the following resources:

Here is a tentative assignment of class members to tools, as discussed in the first class:

Student Tool
Jake CodeWarrior Constructor for Palm
John Visual Basic
Andy Apple Interface Builder for Mac
Johnny Forte for Java Swing
Gopi Newton Script Editors
Barak Visual C++

Back to Homework Overview
Back to 05-830 main page