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Module CS4826: HCI - HUMAN COMPUTER INTERACTION

Lecturer Luigi! Coil"i


A##ig$et %: INSPECTION O& A S'STEM (ASE) ON
USA(ILIT' HEURISTICS
Studet# P!trici! Mur*+, -./.060
Ru1 &lood -.48-%2
To$ O3)oell -.-2%2%
To design an easy-to-use interface, pay attention to what users do, not only what they
say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior.
Jakob Nielsen
Itroductio
For this project we were asked to identify a system and explore its interaction
qualities based on usability heuristics. This method is known as Heuri#tic
E4!lu!tio. For this we will be using 5!6o7 Niel#e3# %- U#!7ilit, Heuri#tic#.
All three group members currently use iTunes as their primary digital media player.
One member has been using iTunes for 2 years another member using
approximately ! year and the final member of the team has been using the
software for " months. This was a big factor in our decision to do our heuristic
e#aluation on iTunes.
The system we choose to explore is the apple software package $iTunes % &ersion
'(.
Product )et!il# !d &e!ture#
iTunes is a free application for )ac and *+. ,t plays all a users digital music and
#ideo. ,t can also sync content to an i*od i*hone and Apple T&. ,t is also an
entertainment superstore that stays open 2"-.. iTunes puts a users entire music
and #ideo collection a mere click away gi#ing the user an all/access pass to
thousands of hours of digital entertainment. 0sers can browse organi1e and play
digital media from your )ac or *+.
8or6lo!d
0pon choosing iTunes for this project we held a discussion about the structure and
plan for the project. 2e then indi#idually went away and noted our personal
3euristic 4#aluation of iTunes using 5akob 6ielsen7s !8 0sability 3euristics before
meeting as a group again and assembled our results together. From this we
analy1ed and documented our findings.
Heuri#tic E4!lu!tio
%9 :ISI(ILIT' O& S'STEM STATUS
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on through appropriate
feedback within reasonable time.
79isplay area7 % what a user is playing-selected. *op/up menu. +onnections % +9
9&9 i*od
iTunes current status can easily be read. ,n its initial state the :0, is still with the
play button in the top left corner clearly #isible. 2hen selecting a tack to play the
track becomes clearly highlighted. 2hen the chosen track is played the play button
changes to become a pause button. A small speaker icon then appears beside the
track that is being played. The display bar at the top of the :0, changes to display
the name artist album of the track. There is a status bar representing the timeline
of the track and how much has been played. The display bar also shows the time
elapsed and time remaining in the track. 2hen burning +9s it clearly displays the
name of the +9 being burnt the amount of time remaining in the burn and the
speed the +9 is being burnt at. O#erall the #isibility of the system status is always
clearly #isible. ,t is easy to both read and change the status of the programme.
At the bottom of the interface it tells you how many songs there are in the window
you are currently in e.g. library party playlist etc. 3ow many hours ; minutes there
are of music and how much memory it takes up.
At the bottom of the interface the user can check how many albums tracks total
time and how much memory is currently used to store the media. This feature can
be clicked on to display added information. This is another feature which does not
ha#e a tooltip and is not readily recogni1able as an actual feature.
29 MATCH (ET8EEN S'STEM AN) THE REAL 8ORL)
The system should speak the users7 language with words phrases and concepts familiar to the
user rather than system/oriented terms. Follow real/world con#entions making information appear
in a natural and logical order.
iTunes is an easily understood programme. *laying and skipping through tracks
and albums can be easily done. The play-pause next track and pre#ious track
buttons use uni#ersal icons which are easily recogni1able. These are icons which
can be found on nearly e#ery music player. The #olume slider create playlist
shuffle repeat and show-hide artwork functions are also controlled using easily
recogni1able icons. At the top of the :0, the file edit controls #iew ad#anced
and help drop down menus are present as per all standard software programmes
and software. )ost computer users understand the functions of the file edit #iew
and help menus as they are present in many computer programmes. The #iew
search and library to the left hand side of the :0, use a combination of icons and
easily understood terminology. ,t is this combination of icons and terminology which
makes iTunes familiar and easy to use for the user.
29 USER CONTROL AN) &REE)OM
0sers often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked <emergency exit< to
lea#e the unwanted state without ha#ing to go through an extended dialogue. =upport undo and
redo.
Although iTunes pro#ide a great amount of user control and freedom it has some
issues that need to be addressed. Although supporting the undo feature it does not
undo when you clear a song from your library. ,f you accidently clear a song from
your library it can be frustrating because you may ha#e to search for the source file
and this can be time consuming. >ou may also lose the track permanently. , could
not find any use for the undo feature. +hanging from an unwanted state is pretty
easy. Also the ?undo@ feature does not perform if a user accidently re/orders a track
in a playlist to an incorrect position.
+hanging from an unwanted state was quite easy and efficient. Tracks could easily
be changed or the music stopped with minimal hassle and knowledge.
O#erall we found iTunes was #ery user friendly. )ost user controls were easily
performed. +reating playlists playing music and burning your own +9s was all
achie#ed with great ease and freedom.
49 CONSISTENC' AN) STAN)AR)S
0sers should not ha#e to wonder whether different words situations or actions mean the same
thing. Follow platform con#entions.
2e found that when a user right clicks on a menu in a playlist or album they are
gi#enAamongst many other optionsB the option to copy or delete trackAsB. 3owe#er
when the user goes to paste the selected trackAsB into another playlist the right
click menu does not offer a ?paste@ option. The ?paste@ option has to be enabled
through the ?edit@ pull down menu. This ob#iously is not consistent with platform
con#entions. 2hat we ha#e found as users of ,Tunes is that the application
encourages the ?click@ and ?drag@ option in these situations.
There are also some inconsistencies between buttons and the file menu for
example when a user is in a playlist window the burn disc button is at the end of
the screen which enables you to burn a playlist onto a disc. 3owe#er in the file
menu to perform the same action you need to click $burn playlist to disc(
/9 ERROR PRE:ENTION
4#en better than good error messages is a careful design which pre#ents a problem from occurring
in the first place
2ith iTunes the primary error faced by users is the accidental deletion of a
track-album-playlists that the user wants to keep. iTunes pre#ents this by gi#ing the
user two chances to confirm or deny their actions. For example when a user tries to
delete a track a message box pops up asking them whether they are sure they
want to remo#e the selected track or not. This pre#ents the user from accidentally
deleting a track. 2hen the user confirms that they want to delete the track by
clicking the remo#e button a second message box pops up asking whether the
user wants the track to put into trash or keep it in the iTunes music folder. This
further pre#ents a user from deleting a track fore#er.
9ialog Cox ! 9ialog Cox 2
Also when adding a track to a playlist if the selected track is already in the
destined playlist iTunes will ask the user if they want to duplicate the track. This
pre#ents unnecessary memory usage.
Another method of error pre#ention that iTunes has is when a user is importing a
+9 into iTunes there is a cancel 7x7 button in the display bar which cancels the
importing straight away.
69 RECO;NITION RATHER THAN RECALL
)ake objects actions and options #isible. The user should not ha#e to remember information from
one part of the dialogue to another. ,nstructions for use of the system should be #isible or easily
retrie#able whene#er appropriate.
The iTunes :0, is primarily fitted with icons and symbols that are as already
discussed uni#ersally recogni1ed symbols. iTunes also pro#ides 7Tooltips7 when a
user lea#es their cursor ho#er o#er a button to get a brief description of its functionD
3owe#er not all buttons on the interface ha#e 7Tooltips7 which in turn forces the
user to experiment and acti#ate these buttons to disco#er their function.

These 7Cuttons7 do not show $Tooltips(
2hen adding multiple tracks to a playlist there is an indicator which shows the
number of tracks being added and also shows whether the tracks ha#e permission
to be mo#ed to the playlist.
E Tracks are be added to the playlist
Also some of these buttons-icons are not instantly recogni1able as buttons with
functions due to their colour and si1e within the :0,. Cut due to the small amount
of buttons on the :0, % !. in total at the start up interface % users of the system
should be aware of their functions after a few interactions with iTunes.
.9 &LE<I(ILIT' AN) E&&ICIENC' O& USE
Accelerators / unseen by the no#ice user / may often speed up the interaction for the expert user
such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor
frequent actions.
,n iTunes there is a multitude of keyboard shortcuts a#ailable to the user these can
be accessed #ia the ?3elp@ pop down menu. )astering the use of these shortcuts
would mean the difference between being a no#ice to an expert user. As with the
majority of uni#ersally recogni1ed icons in iTunes a lot of the keyboard shortcuts
are uni#ersal as well. For exampleD command % A F select all songs command %
G-+-& F cut-copy-paste and spacebar F play-stop.
Another accelerator in iTunes can be used when the user is looking for a certain
artist-album. 2hen in grid or list #iew the user can easily find an album-artist by
pressing the letter on the keyboard that is the first letter of the artist they are
looking for. The #iew will than skip forward-backward in the list of albums-artists
and will show the albums were the artists begin with that letter and all the albums
that follow in that list.
89 AESTHETIC AN) MINIMALIST )ESI;N
9ialogues should not contain information which is irrele#ant or rarely needed. 4#ery extra unit of
information in a dialogue competes with the rele#ant units of information and diminishes their
relati#e #isibility.
As with most Apple based products the basic aesthetics and design of the iTunes
application interface is minimalist for example using simple gray graphics and
fewer buttons for the primary playing controls.
Along with this the interface can be minimi1ed to the ?iTunes mini player@. The mini
player is a scaled down #ersion of the main interface that has the library hidden
and only contains the basic controls and a smaller display bar.
iTunes )ini *layer
09 HELP USERS RECO;NI=E> )IA;NOSE> AN) RECO:ER &ROM ERRORS
4rror messages should be expressed in plain language Ano codesB precisely indicate the problem
and constructi#ely suggest a solution.
2hile e#aluating the software for this project and our personal usage to date all
three users of the team encountered no errors. 2e did howe#er for research
purposes look into documented 7error reports7 with the software. Our findings were
that error messages were expressed in code and that finding a solution was not
ob#ious. This is e#ident from many discussions witnessed on different 2eb Forums
like httpD--www.cnet.com and httpD--www.geekstogo.com-forum-iTunes/problem/startup/
t'22H!.html and also at the official Apple =upport 2ebpage
httpD--support.apple.com-kb-T=2E!I.
%-9 HELP AN) )OCUMENTATION
4#en though it is better if the system can be used without documentation it may be necessary to
pro#ide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search focused on the
user7s task list concrete steps to be carried out and not be too large.
The 3elp function within iTunes was found to be #ery useful and simple to use
without the unnecessary requirement to be online to acti#ate. 2e found the tooltips
#ery helpful and the iTunes help menu easy to na#igate and sol#ed all of the
problems and queries we encountered.
Se4erit, T!7le
After compiling our heuristic e#aluation we decided to create a se#erity rating table.
2e ga#e each heuristic a se#erity rating from ! to I. ! means no changes were
needed and the design works consistent and well with no usability problems at all.
I indicates major problems with the usability of the design which needs immediate
fix.
Heuri#tic
No9
)e#cri*tio O7#er4!tio#
Se4erit,
R!tig
Sugge#tio
%
&,=,C,J,T> OF =>=T4) =TAT0=
2e were always aware of the
systems status
! Ce consistent
2
)AT+3 C4T2446 =>=T4) A69
T34 K4AJ 2OKJ9
,cons and terminology easily
understood
2
3a#e tooltips for all
functions
2
0=4K +O6TKOJ A69 FK449O) 0ndo commands does not work L Fix undo command
4
+O6=,=T46+> A69 =TA69AK9=
*aste was not a#ailable when right
clicking
2
)ake paste
a#ailable while right
clicking
/
4KKOK *K4&46T,O6 Almost no errors good warnings ! Ce consistent
6
K4+O:6,T,O6 KAT34K T3A6
K4+AJJ
Tooltips #ery helpful but not present
for all functions
2
3a#e tooltips for all
functions
.
FJ4G,C,J,T> A69 4FF,+,46+> OF
0=4
4fficient and easy to use software ! Ce consistent
8
A4=T34T,+ A69 ),6,)AJ,=T
94=,:6
Aesthetically pleasing design ! Ce consistent
0
34J* 0=4K= K4+O:6,M4
9,A:6O=4 A69 K4+O&4K FKO)
4KKOK=
6o errors encountered ! Ce consistent
%-
34J* A69 9O+0)46TAT,O6 &ery helpful for our problems ! Ce consistent
Coclu#io