Principles in Patterns (PiP) : Heuristic Evaluation of Course and Class Approval Online Pilot (C-CAP)

Macgregor, George (2011) Principles in Patterns (PiP) : Heuristic Evaluation of Course and Class Approval Online Pilot (C-CAP). [Report]

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    The PiP Evaluation Plan documents four distinct evaluative strands, the first of which entails an evaluation of the PiP system pilot (WP7:37). Phase 1 of this evaluative strand focuses on the heuristic evaluation of the PiP Course and Class Approval Online Pilot system (C-CAP). Heuristic evaluation is an established usability inspection and testing technique and is most commonly deployed in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, e.g. to test user interface designs, technology systems testing, etc. The success of heuristic evaluation in detecting 'major' and 'minor' usability problems is well documented, but its principal limitation is its inability to capture data on all possible usability problems. For this reason heuristic evaluation is often used as a precursor to user testing, e.g. so that user testing focuses on deeper system issues rather than on those that can easily be debugged. Heuristic evaluation nevertheless remains an important usability inspection technique and research continues to demonstrate its success in detecting usability problems which would otherwise evade detection in user testing sessions. For this reason experts maintain that heuristic evaluation should be used to complement user testing. This is reflected in the PiP Evaluation Plan, which proposes protocol analysis, stimulated recall and pre- and post-test questionnaire instruments to comprise user testing (see WP7:37 phases 2, 3 and 4 of PiP Evaluation Plan). This brief report summarises the methodology deployed, presents the results of the heuristic evaluation and proposes solutions or recommendations to address the heuristic violations that were found to exist in the C-CAP system. It is anticipated that some solutions will be implemented within the lifetime of the project. This is consistent with the incremental systems design methodology that PiP has adopted.

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