i. Most severe problems:
-There is little consistency and high redundancy with navigation options. Score presents you with an array of different links, tabs, dropdown menus, buttons, and expandables as navigate options. Some two navigation options lead to the same page. We even found a page that had two buttons that led to the same page. Other pages are exclusively opened through a single navigation option. Some links open pages while others open pop-ups. The meaning of various buttons was frequently unclear, as the designers of SCORE would often fall back on such options as “OK” and “Cancel” when more expressive options were appropriate. The result is an extremely confusing experience due to violation of H4, consistency and standards, and frequent cases of nonessential, redundant features due to violation of H8, aesthetic and minimalist design.
-It is very hard to find what you want in Score. This is because, in addition to issues with navigation options as previously mentioned, some features are often hidden or placed in very unintuitive places. This is terrible design and a violation of H7, which calls for designing with efficiency of use in mind. There are also frequent cases of mismatch between the users’ language and Score’s chosen vocabulary. It, for example chooses terms such as “quintile ranking” and “BIP,” thus a violation of H2. This problem is magnified with the lack of any useful help and documentation which is a violation of H10. Ultimately, SCORE relies on its users to remember how to navigate through its unintuitive interface, thus violating H6.
-Place features in intuitive places. It would be much easier to navigate Score if cases like GPA being in “course history” instead of “grades” did not happen. This would improve the website based on H7, efficiency of use.
-Change the text of various buttons in SCORE to make their functionality more immediately obvious. This would improve the website based on H1, visibility of system status, as well as H4, consistency and standards.
-Warn the user that the system will automatically log out of SCORE before it does so. Include a timer which counts down to the logout. This would improve the website based on H1, visibility of system status.
-Change the interface to fill the browser screen. This change should make SCORE much easier for the user to read and navigate. This would improve the website based on H8, aesthetic and minimalist design.
ii. Problems made easier to find through Nielsen’s heuristics:
-Would not have even thought of looking for help or documentation if it was not for Nielsen’s heuristics since usually interfaces are good enough to survive without this.
-Would not have thought of looking for mismatches between user’s language and system’s language either since terms that I don’t understand seem to be an everyday occurrence. It also wouldn’t have occurred to me that button labels need to be more expressive than “OK” and “Cancel.”
-Would not have occurred to me to critique the website for its lack of minimalist design. I see confusing interfaces all the time, but I am taught to justify their complicated nature by expecting that it is an unavoidable side-effect of complicated functionality. For example, people who use GIMP likely ignore the poor interface because they know that GIMP is very powerful and rich in features.
iii. Problems that are not included in Nielsen’s heuristics:
-Availability is an important system heuristic that Nielson does not cover. Score is not available from 2AM to 7AM and often has certain pages returning a “This page is no longer available” message. Log in problems are also notoriously common with Score.
iv. Discussion Questions:
-Can somebody make the perfect interface just by following these Nielsen’s heuristics, or is there something else that is important?
-What is the priority ranking of each of Nielsen’s heuristics?
-What would Nielsen make of systems and interfaces which intentionally hide expert-level features and implementation details from the user? Think of command-line tools for databases with GUIs.
-Provide an example violation of a heuristic and ask the student to categorize the violation.
-Give three suggestions for how to improve the interface seen below.