422 - Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation
Any product--whether a website, a technological system, or an electronically mediated service--benefits from evaluation before, during, and after the development cycle. Too often, the people who use a product cannot find what they want or accomplish what they need to do. Products are more successful when they are developed through a process that identifies how the products will be used, elicits input from potential users, and watches how the product function in real time with real users. This course provides a hands--on introduction to methods used throughout the entire evaluation process--from identifying the goals of the product, picturing who will use it, engaging users through a variety of formative evaluation techniques, and confirming a product's function through usability testing and summative evaluation. Specific methods include personas and scenarios, competitive analysis, observation, surveys, interviews, data analysis, heuristic evaluation, usability testing, and task analysis. Students will work on group projects that apply these techniques to real products in use or development.