Assignment 3 – Heuristic Evaluation of SCORE

Junjun, Saswathi, Angela, Edward

1. Most Severe Problems

Login errors

When attempting to log in, users quite frequently get redirected to an error page saying that they are “not authorized to log into PeopleSoft”. This may also happen even when the username and password are correct, and before 2am. This is a very annoying and severe error (we rated it a 3).
This violates the following heuristics:

  • Heuristic 9: help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors: “Not authorized” is both unhelpful and seemingly incorrect (students should be authorized to log in), and does not propose and form of solution. The error message should at least be more informative (was it a bad username/password combination? Is the time invalid for the particular user?); it should also not occur when the username/password are correct.
  • Heuristic 7: flexibilty and efficiency of use: The user must then go back to the original login page after receiving this error; it would be much more efficient to display error messages on the original login page, so that the user can easily try logging in again.

Class Registration

Users must search for courses to enroll in by course number to find a specific course. This information is not available easily through SCORE
This violates the following heuristic:

  • Heuristic 6: recognition rather than recall: the course numbers must be looked up, as no one remembers them. Users should be able to search courses by keywords and words in the course titles, or have SCORE integrated with ICE or even the Registrar’s page.

2. Problems Recognized Because of Nielsen’s Heuristics

We noticed a problem with consistency in the navigation interfaces – tabs, drop-down menus, and radio buttons are all used at different times for navigation. We only noticed this as a distinct problem by learning about Nielsen’s heuristics. Thus, H4 was a useful heuristic.

Also, we did not directly notice the lack of help and documentation as a problem. Since we all have used SCORE a lot, we already know what to click and what all the cryptic things mean. However, we realized (and remembered) how little sense it made for a first-time user after reading over the list of heuristics. Thus, H10 was a useful heuristic.

3. Non-Nielsen Usability Problems

Since the heuristics seem very broad, most of our problems fit into them (and several problems seem to fit more than one heuristic).

One problem that didn’t quite fit was the login error (“You are not authorized by PeopleSoft”) described above. While the error message isn’t very useful, the main problem seems to be an error of functionality. The user should be able to log in, but they cannot.

We might add a heuristic called “consistent functionality”: The system should behave predictably and consistently.

4. Useful Class Discussion Questions

  1. Are any of the heuristics inherently more severe than the others? Explain why.
  2. Is there a line between usability flaws and functional flaws? How terrible can a UI be before the application is no longer functional?
  3. Here are a list of several usability problems. What heuristic violation would you categorize them as, and why?
    • automatic logout without warning
    • no file previews available
    • faulty spell check
    • etc.
  4. Give examples of severity level 4 violations for each heuristic.

5. Solo Heuristic Evaluation Links