HCI Practical Exercises 2017

The exercises will be published just before their announcement date in class.

The grade for the course is determined by a series of exercises (group work) and a short multiple choice test (individual work). For the group work part, each member of the group is usually given the same number of points.

I sometimes need to make changes to an exercise, to the number of points awarded, or to the meeting appointments, so make sure that you check back regularly and read the course newsgroup.

To pass the course, you must achieve 50% or more of the total points for the course and also get at least two questions out of ten correct in the multiple choice test. I do not fix an exact points-to-grade mapping until we have finished marking everything.

You must take the multiple choice test and get at least two questions correct in order to pass the course. If you fail to take the multiple choice test or get only 0 or 1 questions correct, you will fail the entire course, regardless of your points for the other exercises.

There will be one opportunity to repeat the test. The results of the most recent test replace those of an earlier test.

The Scenario

Your group will play the role of user interface consultants who have been contracted to evaluate a web site. The idea is to identify as many potential usability problems as possible and feed this input into the next design phase.

During the practical exercises, your tutor will play the role of your client. Your client has heard about usability, but does not know exactly what heuristic evaluations and thinking aloud tests are.

You will present your work at each of three meetings with your client (tutor): M1, M2, and M3. You will hand in your work in advance of the meetings using our online submission system, Sapphire. Check the times of the meeting slots for your group by following the links in the table below.

Further details:


Exercise Title Type Announce Hand-In Present Points Percent
1 Heuristic Evaluation Plan (HE Plan) group Tue 21 Mar 2017 lecture Wed 29 Mar 2017 17:30 M1 (M1 Slots) 38 6.4
2.1 Heuristic Evaluation (Log File) individual Tue 21 Mar 2017 lecture Mon 24 Apr 2017 17:30 20 3.3
2.2 Heuristic Evaluation Report (HE Report) group Tue 21 Mar 2017 lecture Wed 26 Apr 2017 17:30 M2 (M2 Slots) 106 17.7
3 Thinking Aloud Test Plan (TA Plan) group Tue 04 Apr 2017 lecture Wed 26 Apr 2017 18:30 M2 (M2 Slots) 61 10.2
4.1 Thinking Aloud Test (TA Report) group Tue 04 Apr 2017 lecture Wed 31 May 2017 17:30 M3 (M3 Slots) 195 32.6
4.2 Thinking Aloud Test (TA Videos) group Tue 04 Apr 2017 lecture M3 (M3 Slots) 78 13.0
5 Multiple Choice Test (MC) individual Fri 09 Jun 2017 (MC Slots)
Wed 05 Jul 2017 (MCrep Slots)
100 16.7
598 100.0

The number of points may change slightly here or there, but the rough proportions will stay the same.

The logistics of organising the rooms and meeting slots mean that it is impossible to start swapping slots with other groups and shifting things around. If you have a really good reason why most of the group cannot make it to your designated slot, please email me.

To get a flavour of what you will be doing, you can look at some practical reports from previous semesters. Here is a more recent report from 2017 describing a Heuristic Evaluation of Enigmail, which includes short video clips to illustrate some of the findings.

Do not copy the above reports to use as templates. These are not perfect examples of what I want you to do this semester. The reports from previous years are included here "as is", i.e. as they were handed in. They contain mistakes and omissions and I have not edited them to be perfect examples. I also change and update my report templates from year to year.

Language Policy

User tests should generally be carried out in the native language of the test users (or at least a language they are proficient in). For this course, choose test users who speak either English or German and stick to one language for the tests.

You may write your reports either in English or in German. Even if you run your tests, say, in German, you may choose to write your report in English, if you wish.

If you write your reports in German, then use umlauts (ü) rather than appending an e (ue). Unicode and UTF-8 give you all the characters you need inside Polyglot HTML5.

The questions in the multiple choice test are in English only.

Copyright and Licence Policy

I ask you to place the papers and/or reports which you produce and hand in as part of this course under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Let me know if you do not wish to do so.

Policy for Late Submissions

You will hand in most of your work using our online submission and grading system called Sapphire.

The following policy applies to late submissions:

Unless you have a very good reason supported by appropriate documentation (doctor's letter, etc.).

Policy for Late or Missing Groups at Meetings

Do not be late for your client meetings! Groups who are late make the tutors wait and cause knock-on effects for other groups. I reserve the right to deduct points from groups who are substantially late for appointments.

Should your group not turn up at the client meeting at all (unless you have a very good reason supported by appropriate documentation), you will be given 0 points for those exercises.

Policy for Missing Group Members at Meetings

It is acceptable for one member of your group to be missing at each of your appointments, as long as the rest of the group is present and is willing to carry the missing group member.

Policy for Inactive Group Members

It sometimes happens that one group member does not actively participate and most (or all) of the work is done by the other group members. If this happens in your group and you feel that you are carrying an inactive group member, let your tutor know and only write the names of the active group members on the reports you hand in.

Policy if the Web Site Changes

The web sites being evaluated are public web sites not under our control. Occasionally, it does happen that a web site makes significant changes in the middle of the HE or TA exercise. This situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, if and when it occurs.