Researching Usability

AquaBrowserUX Projected Timeline, Workplan & Project Methodology

Posted on: May 19, 2010


The project is organised in the following work packages (WPs):

WP1 Management & Coordination Deliverables:


D1.1 Start Up PM (Project Month) 1: project setup, providing Project Plan (all activities), project website/blogs.

D1.2 Completion PM5: synthesising a summative case study based on the project findings, JISC reporting.

WP2 User Research, Usefulness (Objective 1 and 2):


D2.1 User Research PM1 & 2: undertake contextual inquiry, persona development, field study.

D2.2 Reporting PM3

WP3 Usability Testing (Objective 3):


D3.1 Setup PM3: recruit users and setup test.

D3.2 Testing PM4.

D3.3 Reporting PM4.

See the timetable below for more information.


Project Methodologies Used:

WP2 User Research , Usefulness

Contextual Enquiry

A key methodology used in the project is the user research which involves a field study undertaking contextual inquiry (Cooper, Reimann & Cronin 2007), a form of user centred design. It is related to ethnographic study of users in their natural habitats, involving real-use scenarios.

The method provides broader understandings of how systems fit into working environments and find out the common users behaviours and patterns of use. It also complements other qualitative methods which are also being employed in the project including surveys and interviews.

Details of the approach and methods used in the user research are detailed and updated regularly on the project wiki.

Qualitative Personas with Quantitative Validation (Mulder &Yaar, 2007)

Personas are a realistic character sketch representing one segment of an audience. Each persona is an archetype serving as a surrogate for an entire group of real people. The help to bring research to life while also informing the recruitment of participants for the usability testing in WP3.

Qualitative research will be conducted for the project through interviews initially and users segmented based on the findings. Quantitative research will then be conducted (time permitting) to validate the segments. This is normally done through a survey which is intended to be conducted online. A persona will then be created from each segment.

WP3 Usability Testing

Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it with representative users. In the test, these users will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes. The goal is to identify any usability problems, collect quantitative data  on participants’ performance (e.g., time on task, error rates), and determine participant’s satisfaction with the product.

Usability testing of Edinburgh University’s AquaBrowser will be conducted with representative users and will focus on the efficacy of the resource discovery user interfaces including the faceted navigation and Discover animated cloud.


Cooper, A., Reimann, R & Cronin, D (2007). About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Wiley Publishing Inc.

Mulder, S., Yaar, Z., (2007). The User Is Always Right, A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web, New Riders

2 Responses to "AquaBrowserUX Projected Timeline, Workplan & Project Methodology"

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