A Call For Usability Ideas

For my graduate school class, I must work with a group to evaluate a web site or an information system (or compare multiple ones) for usability issues. Any ideas?

So far, my group has talked about the following:

Certainly we can think outside the box and look at the usability of non-web systems (e.g., Bank of America ATM vs. Chevy Chase ATM), but it might be best to focus on web-based products. Your thoughts?

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Yummy!! This sounds like a fun project. There is usability all around us. Picking something, at least for me, would be extremely hard. I’ll tell you one approach, and living and working in the greater Washington area has great impact on this idea, deconstruct something federal. I’m actually going to start doing a weekly blog post on “.gov Deconstruction.” There is so much wrong with federal government web sites, it makes me want to yak.

Maybe compare the private and public sectors, how each has gown in the last five years respectively (if at all) and how they each lack or have outstanding qualities in usability.

Just a thought…

Comparing federal and private sites could get political, particularly since I want to keep my vocational options open, but that’s an idea. I happen to be a contractor with the feds, and once the webmaster of a certain agency found out about the program I am in (I’m not currently working in a web-tech-related position), she asked for my usability input for their upcoming redesign. Too text-intensive, anyone? Perhaps my group could provide an analysis of the federal site I speak of?

I hear you about getting too political, but somebody has to do it. ;) Breaking down the aforementioned site would be a good project. There are definitely some usability issues to be addressed and breaking the content out a little more.

P.S. – I’ll get back to your email as soon as I can. I just moved and my Mac has been down for 6 days.

I’ve asked the webmaster of the agency if she would be okay with the project. I suspect she will be fine with it. The only hitch was that I asked her if I could let the team see “oversight committee” documentation on the redesign project, such as the requirements documentation, initial wireframes, etc. That might be more of a sticking point but it’s really unnecessary for the group if we are, in fact, simply analyzing the current web presence.

Thanks for your advice and good luck with the move post-mortem!

What about compromising and comparing the useability of banking sites? :-) Seriously, that is one of the areas of our common experience that needs work. Banking – even eBanking – is still based upon “useablility ideas” from the 1800s. There is a lot of room to revolutionize the way that we interact with our money, and save ourselves from risk.