Sunday, April 02, 2006

A site redesign project

These days it's becoming a common task to redesign existing web sites.

I couldn't see anywhere in the current syllabus that this was being addressed, so I've decided to munge it into the modules I'll be teaching here.

For our subject, we'll take TAFE's own Web Design toolbox. If you don't have a copy you'll have to drop me a line so I can send you the CD.

This resource was created in 2002, and in my opinion is ripe for an update. We'll take it in tiny little steps and see how far we can go.

To start off we'll do a mini usability test to see how suitable the toolbox is for achieving the 'Create a Mark Up Language Document' learning outcomes.

First: download these usability test forms:
Post-Session Survey (PDF)
Observation Form (PDF)

Second: find a victim volunteer, and sit them down in front of a computer running the toolbox.

Third: have them run through some simple exercises and watch carefully for events that make them stop and think - these are the opportunities we'll be exploiting for improving the interface. As you observe, fill in the observation form.

Finally: after the exercise, have your subject fill in a post-session survey. If you're doing this exercise in class swap roles half way through so you both experience the process as a tester and observer.

Here are some sample exercises you might set your subject using the module learning outcomes:

  1. Open the toolbox and navigate to the section called 'Write basic HTML'
  2. Navigate to the orientation section and find what link will tell you how to use the toolbox.
  3. Try the link. Did it tell you enough to confidently use the toolbox?
  4. Return to the 'write basic html' section.
  5. Can you find what competencies you're expected to master in this module?
Half time, swap roles if you're doing this exercise with another student and then complete the following tasks:
  1. Can you find the section in the WebDevMag that explains how to add hyperlinks to a document? Is there enough detail here for you to understand the anchor tag?
  2. Can you find the spider.gif mentioned on page 3 of the WebDevMag?
  3. Close the WebDevMag window.
  4. Find out from the chief programmer if there's any way to change the spacing between paragraphs.
  5. Go to the 'Read other resources about basic HTML programming' section and visit the site: 'Barebones Guide to HTML'
For bonus marks, run through the section: 'Test your knowledge of basic HTML programming' and note any problems with the questions or interface.

By now you should have a good idea about how the toolbox works, and what parts of the interface design you might want to change. It's time for some brainstorming and planning...

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