The Outreachy internship requires that interns maintain a blog, writing at least every other week. This shouldn't be a problem for the usability project. For the first few weeks, I'll essentially give a research topic for Diana, Ciarrai and Renata to look into and write about on their blogs. I've structured the topics so that we'll build up to building our usability tests.
I'll also make a copy of my emails as blog posts on my Open Source Software & Usability blog, so we can use the comments as a sort of discussion forum. If you follow my blog, feel free to participate and comment! Expect a new post every Sunday or Monday.
For week 1, we're going to start with two topics:
1. What is usability?
Some questions that might help you think about this week's topic: What does "usability" mean to you? Can you find a definition of "usability"? Some researchers in this area make a distinction between "big U" Usability and "small u" usability - why is that, and how are they different? How does "usability" differ from "User Experience" (UX)? What are we trying to get out of "usability"?
(You don't have to answer all of those questions in your post, but it may help to pick one or two and write about those.)
I've included a few links to references that you might consider in discussing this topic. There are lots of places with information about usability, so feel free to find other resources if you prefer.
- Current Issues of Usability Characteristics and Usability Testing (Ayobami, Hector, and Hammed, 2012)
- Usability Testing Demystified (Chisnell, 2009)
- Usability Evaluation Basics (Usability.gov)
- The Art of Unix Usability (Raymond and Landley, 2004)
As you learn about usability, also think about what is "good" usability to you, and what is "poor" usability. Is usability something that's universal? In your experience, which open source software programs have good usability? Which have poor usability?
These are great questions to start off. I find it's a good idea to create this "baseline" for first impressions about usability. We will expand on this as we get further along in the internship.
2. How to test usability?
There are many ways to examine the usability of a program, more than the few ideas presented in this week's articles. How do you test the usability of a program? What other ideas do you suggest? Would you use different methods for a small program vs a larger program, or the same?
I've included a few links to references that you might consider in discussing this topic. What other references can you find?
- 5 Types Of Usability Tests (Sauro, 2015)
- Usability.gov > Methods (Usability.gov)
- 11 ways to test usability (from Preston; Hall, 2014)
Feel free to use the comments section here as a kind of discussion forum.