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Assignment 2 - Riddhi Mittal

Page history last edited by Riddhi 10 years, 3 months ago

User Observation (part a): Choose some place where you can watch a good number of people interacting with a designed product or service. Hang out for at least an hour to watch the interactions. What is the general process of interaction? Sketch or diagram what it is that people are doing. Are there errors that you observe in how people interact with the product or service? Indicate these errors in your sketch or diagram (or a separate diagram, if necessary!)


I watched people try to print documents from the first floor of Meyer Library. From my experience with printing from the dorm computer cluster, I had expected the process to be decently intuitive, easy and quick. It was anything but! 


The typical process (along with the errors) the first time user of the Meyer library printer went through -

- Go to computer next to the printer and stare at its screen.

- Realize that computer only shows the submitted print jobs. It does not let you submit a print job from itself.

- Go back to own computer and click Print. Realize they don't know how to print to the Meyer library printer.

- Then realize they need to Print from a Meyer library computer.

- Go to a Meyer library computer, sign in, and realize that they need their document on this computer first.

- Go to their own computer, and email themselves the document to be printed.

- Go the Meyer library computer, open Internet Explorer, their email account, and download the document.

- Then hit print, and select the Meyer library printer from the list.

- Then go to the computer next to the printer, hit refresh but not see their print job.

- Then realize they need to go to printing.stanford.edu to release the print job. Go back to the Meyer computer and release the job.

- Go to the computer next to the printer and finally see their job.

- The job still doesn't print. They wait for a while, confused.

- Then they realize they is a card scanner sitting next to the computer and its mouse.

- Think it requires the StanfordCardPlan just like old times and feel frustrated.

- Maybe realize that they could try swiping their Stanford ID card.

- The card scanner has no indication whatsoever as to what way to the swipe the card in.

- Took people at least 5-8 tries on average.

- Finally, be able to print their document. Feel relieved.


Below is a diagram of the interaction process (without the errors) -



User Observation (part b): Choose a task to perform with a product or service (for example, programming a Tivo) and ask at least 3 people if they would mind if you watched them perform that task. Ask them to think aloud as they perform the task. What is it that people do? What do they look at, in what order? Do they make errors? How might these be prevented? Photograph, diagram and sketch your work.


The Task - connect the large display panels on the Meyer first floor desks to your computer. 


Let's take a closer look at the other components present on the table apart from the display. There are four main ones -

- The white box

- The video cable

- The USB cable

- The firewire cable


For the sake of not naming people here -

1. Person A -

     1. Try to power on the display.

          1. Try and look for a power button on it.

          2. Didn't find one => (was looking only on the back of the display, because that is where the iMacs have their power button)

          3. Trace where the cables connecting to the display originate and end.

     2. Confused as to what the white box did.

          1. Asked if it was a Mac-mini.

          2. Tried to power it on.

     3. Didn't recognize all cables.

          1. Plugges in USB cable (which was most familiar) into computer. 

          2. When that didn't do anything, gave up.


2. Person B -

     1. Try to power on the display.

          1. Found the power button on the side of the display. Turned it on.

     2. Didn't know what the white box was. Didn't care.

     3. Plugged in the USB cable. Nothing happened.

     4. Tried the firewire cable.

     5. Knew that the video cable was some kind of DVI that was to be connected to the computer.

          1. Owned the new aluminum Macbook Pro 13'' (with MiniDisplay Port instead of mini-DVI. Did not know this)

          2. Went to second floor Meyer and asked them for the "right cable" to connect the  HD display panels with his Macbook Pro 13''.

          3. Came back with right cable and was successful.


3. Person C -

     1. Try to power on the display.

          1. Search for it on the back of the display, because the iMac in the cluster has those on the back.

          2. When doesn't find it there, searches Google for the power button on the display, and finds it on the side in this picture.

     2. Does not know what white box is. So scans it to find text on it to read. Finds this. Thus, knows it is a power adapter.

     3. Knew that the video cable is supposed to be plugged in to the computer. 

          1. Does not know what kind of video cable that is. Googles for the kind of video cable that comes with such Apple display panels.

          2. Finds out that it is called a dual-link DVI connector. Googles for images for this cable name to make sure it is indeed that cable.

          3. Is sure that the connector is Dual-Link DVI-D.

      4. Googles for "Apple Macbook aluminum 13'' dvi connector" and finds out that he has a MiniDisplay Port.

      5. Googles for "mini display port to dual link dvi-d connector" and finds this

          1. Now he knows such a cable exists.

      6. Goes to the second floor of Meyer and asks for this cable. Gets it, comes back and is able to connect computer to display.


Common Reasons for Errors -

- Apple has different kinds of cables for different kinds of Macbook computers and display panels.

- The power adapter looks like a big mysterious white box.

- The power button on the display panel is very small and hard to find. It is in the different place than on the iMac desktop computers, making it hard for even people with Mac experience to find it.

- The presence of the USB cable makes it hard. People are most familiar with it, and think they're done with the task when they connect that to their computer instead of connecting the DVI cable.

- They don't realize at first that they will need an additional DVI to MiniDisplay Port adapter. They don't find any female connector on their computer that would connect to the dual-link DVI cable and give up.

- Meyer doesn't have any helpful "how-to" sheets next to one of these panels.

- Some people don't know they can go to the second floor Tech Desk of Meyer for help.

Comments (1)

Eric Kent said

at 6:11 pm on May 6, 2010

Very good job, especially breaking down the errors for the HD display power adapter. What do you think the causes of all of those errors while trying to print? Is there a lack of affordances? Does the system conflict with the user's model? Something else? A combination of these?

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