Closing In on the End of Summer Semester

It’s been a while since I last updated – things have been moving very quickly.

Here’s how we’ve passed the last few weeks:

Week 6:

I prepared the first drafts of these documents then asked for feedback. I passed on responsibility for several of them to another teammate, which went well until I realized that the team had just entered an endless feedback loop. I think it would have helped these documents get to a more “final” state if we had specified either a final decision-maker for each one or a date that they were going to be finished. Having taken on a leadership role in terms of guiding the user testing and creating the documents, though, I kind of ended up as the one with final say over everything, which is a lot of responsibility – I didn’t feel comfortable handing off responsibility, but I had an email exchange with Kyle that really helped clear up what I should and shouldn’t be responsible for. Things went much more smoothly after that.

Week 7:

  • Finalized testing documents
  • Contacted and confirmed with Kyle’s recruited participants
    • 1 expert tester, Aaron Schwartz
    • 7 users registered for or interested in the course
  • Pilot user testing session with adviser Linda Braun

A lot of this week was spent doing administrative tasks like contacting and confirming with participants, as well as ironing out how we were going to use Google Hangouts to facilitate. One teammate also stepped up and said she was prepared to moderate several tests, which was a relief! We agreed that the best approach to moderation was to make the session feel like a conversation about the site rather than a formal process, and the pilot test went very well conducted this way.

Week 8:

  • 6 user testing sessions with users via Google Hangouts on Air (1 cancelled)
    • Several technology issues – for future sessions, I created a Best Practices document
  • Site walkthrough with expert tester Aaron Schmidt of Walking Paper

After the first few sessions, we had a sense of what some of the red flags were – navigating back and forth between the course site and WordPress dashboard functionality being the primary, and a handful of small functionality or minor visual issues as well. We also got great commentary on the look and feel from both expert testers during the pilot test and the walkthrough. Google Hangouts turned out to be a great tool for facilitating user sessions using screensharing, although a number of participants had technical issues we couldn’t anticipate – outdated plugins without the admin rights to install new ones, malfunctioning microphone – you name it.

Going into Week 9:

  • I put together a User Testing Data spreadsheet, where we’ll enter our notes on the user testing sessions. I asked teammates to commit to entering data by Sunday evening.
  • We’ll use that data to write our Recommendations Report. I asked teammates to commit to having a draft of their pieces of the results and recommendations by Wednesday, so we can all review, and then we’ll submit those pieces by Sunday night. Other pieces, like the related research, we will hand in on Sunday if we’ve had time to complete them, otherwise they’ll be submitted at the end of the semester along with our handoff report.
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