Task analysis is an important part of the specification phase of design. It revolves around the notion of modelling the users view of a task and not objective task structures. There have been a variety of task analysis techniques that have been developed by researchers. Some are very complicated, complex and very time consuming. Examples include; Task Action Grammer (Payne 1985), and Task Analysis For Knowledge Descriptions (Johnson et al 1985). HTA however is a more appealing technique to a majority of developers as it is much more simpler to apply, and is a lot less time consuming.Exercise three involved collecting and compiling a set of requirements for an online diary system, which included functional, data, environmental, user and usability requirements.
Configuring a set of requirements deals mainly with understanding needs. It does not just show what is required but also helps analysing situations. The result of the whole process does not just show requirements of a new system, but can also help determine problems with any current system. Requirements also address the actual purpose of the intended system and deal with what it is supposed to do, instead of dealing with how it is going to be implemented.
There are different types of requirements; data requirements deal with the data that is required and the actual structure of the system. Issues dealt with in data requirements include; how should the different types of data be represented?, what form is the data taking?, how much data flows through the system?, and also deals with shared data. Environmental requirements help deal with defining how the system should be used in a user support environment and a physical environment.
Functional requirements deal with what the system is capable of doing. This must basically describe a function or process that the system must support. It can determine what the system will do and when it will do it. It can also help in answering when and how the system could be enhanced or modified. Along with being an iterative process, this requirement helps in determining the functional specification and constraints, it also separates what the user does and what the system actually does.
Functional and data requirements do not really deal with the needs of users. This is where usability requirements come into play. These requirements are concerned with user satisfaction as well as the overall performance. The main features it deals with are; attitude, ease of use, learnability and flexibility. The main purpose of user requirements are to obtain a deeper understanding of the whole community of intended users. This involves understanding who they are, what tasks they will be performing and what their expectations are.
Exercises four and five included creating a storyboard of the website and then creating a vertical prototype which could then be evaluated via user observation. Storyboarding is just another form of prototyping. Storyboards are basically sketches of the system and consist of different parts of the system. They can be very creative and can also be designed by using complex graphics programs. Storyboards can help in understanding what different commands actually do as well as tracing the progress from one part of the screen to another. This method is considered to be a type of low fidelity prototyping and can provide early feedback on the usability of information. For designers this can be very valuable in determining early reactions to the design before too much time and resources are invested into the actual writing and coding.
Prototypes may not always have all the functions that will be in the actual system, but are developed to look like finished products, and should contain enough to test at least some part of the design. Test participants or sample users can then be used to test out a prototype. Within this user observation, things to look out for include what the user concludes about the systems design and performance, the users comments, reactions and task performance all aid designers in determining what to change or keep about the final design.
Functional and usability criteria can be fulfilled using this method of user observation, as you could retest the design and modify it until you are satisfied. The last two steps of prototyping and evaluation follow some basic steps; develop a simulation or prototype of the design, perform a user observation or usability study of the prototype, and then to attempt to overcome any conflating issues.
Gained from a website; providing a step by step diagram of the UCD process: On concluding these five exercises, I managed to gain a much better understanding of the UCD process and its importance. UCD helps to lower development cost. This is achieved through it increasing the focus and efficiency, as well as spotting design flaws early on. UCD also avoids unexpected and unwanted future expenses, as well as almost ensuring the finished products value to users.