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What We Learned from Participants
Underestimated task completion time

  • Lack of a robust "testable" prototype
  • Experience
  • Lack of Standards (too hard to find)
  • Better Tools (use "stickies" when applicable)
  • Time standards that are built into tool!

So, we learned a great deal about the design process in addition to the participants taking away some design experience. The workshop organizers did not expect to turn the workshop into a "laboratory" on design, it just turned out our observations were very interesting.

As with estimating staffing plans for building software, we feel the design groups lacked a realistic prototype to allow them to make estimates of how long it would take a user to complete the task if the system was implemented. Using the paper prototype approach, it was unrealistic of the workshop organizers to expect the groups to estimate task completion time effectively.

If a tool existed to estimate time to complete a task using a large repository of known task times, then by prototyping the design, flow, and revision points in this software program we could accurately assess task completion times.

From previous experience with time estimations for military applications and modeling/simulation programs, it is realistic to build this for applications but only if task completion time is vital (i.e.,. military, transport, real-time production environments). This would be a complicated tool to build and would likely require a company serious about building statistical models of user interaction on the web. Of course, by the time someone does this, the web will have migrated to mostly Java applications, which would be easier to model with some existing time measurement databases.

Nevertheless one should be considerate of how server time, download time, and type of browser, etc. will affect usability.

An example of a simple quick interfaces Edmunds car web site (i.e, It does not contain fancy graphics and high-bandwidth applets, but gets the job done by having a wealth of information, organized in a logical manner. The information is well represented in a heirarchical arangement organized by types of vehicles and years. We will see one the designs later that looks at a different model for arranging this type of information.

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Comments: Happily Received!
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Updated: 01.20.1998