Archive for December, 2008

Testing

Website Testing Plan

A testing plan for any website or new media product should really be split into multiple layers. First and foremost, the website should be tested on its main function and ideal path. For example, an e-commerce model should be tested on the ability to a) find the desired product b) add the product to the basket c) finalise payment, and perhaps d) have the product dispatched to the customer. After these factors are tested, it then makes sense to test the lower-level functions and aesthetic continuity. For this reason, the first port of call for testing will be the blog application.

Testers

I hope to be able to gather some beta testers on a variety of different system configurations – a mix of PC and Mac users running older and new versions of operating systems together with a decent spread of browsers. However, in the pre-production stages, this may be a little problematic seeing as Ruby on Rails must be set-up on the users’ machines. I will certainly be getting a selection of users of different abilities to test the system on my own machine using various browsers; of which I currently have installed: Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer running Windows Vista. I will also be testing on an iMac running Safari and Firefox with OS X 10.5.5. The benefit of having users test the system in front of me is that I will be able to observe the way the users interact with the site and how long it takes them to accustom themselves to the layout and functionality.

With this in mind, it is important that the intrinsic factors are put on trial first – these being those relevant to the product itself. Extrinsic factors then would be those relating to the system configurations on which the product is being tested.

Intrinsic Factors:

  • does the site work?
  • do the functions work? (again with the functionality, because it is so basic)
  • do the links work?
  • are the files present and accounted for?
  • are the graphics MIME types correct? (I used to think that this couldn’t be screwed up)

Extrinsic Factors:

Once the intrinsic factors are squared away, then start on the extrinsic points:

  • cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility
  • clients with cookies disabled
  • clients with Javascript disabled
  • monitor resolution
  • browser sizing
  • connection speed differences

(Philosophe.com)

Feedback & Analysis

I will be designing a questionnaire-style form for users to fill-in after they have used the system which will firstly ask a few basic questions about usability: for example;

  • Were they able to create a comment one of the posts?
  • Were authoring controls hidden from unauthorised users?
  • Did all links lead to the correct pages?
  • Did the gallery function as the user expected?
  • Etc…

I will also then include a less-structured section that asks for users’ opinions on the product broken-up into separate functions such as blog, gallery, contact page, etc. The last part of the testing feedback form will be a general opinion section that allows users to comment on the look and feel of the site.

Ideas for development.

An idea worthy of development in reference to my websites usability could be that of a search function, allowing readers to quickly locate news on an article that may well have been uploaded. Search functions are common tools found on most, nearly all music news websites, such as:

http://www.xlr8r.com
http://www.lambgoat.com
http://www.chemical-records.co.uk

I feel by incorporating this function into my site, helps follow industry conventions and professionalism, benefiting users whom may be wishing to search quickly due to lack of time, places to be, etc…

To achieve this idea, I will need to research how a search function is first of created, looking and understanding Dreamweaver to the best of my ability. Through secondary research on the internet, plus tutorials in Dreamweaver, I should hopefully have this idea successfully in-place prior to the deadline of the production.

Testing

I’ve been fortunate enough to find more than enough willing participants for my testing stage of my project.  The demand and anticipation for my web app is much hugher than I had previously recognised!  I am currently in the stages of creating the layout of the mobile web pages for the web app, and am also waiting to hear back from Nick over at Dead Format regarding his PHP code and how he uses it.  Once he gets back to me I will be able to get to work on how I can impliment the data in a moble web environment.

Myself and Scott have had a brief consultation today and we are faily confident that I am on time considering that I hear from Nick soon enough and I can see how the PHP coding he uses works.  In the mean time I will continue to layout my pages and to fill in my log book, as well as begin on my critical evaluation.

Merry Christmas!

Employability factor…

As I have previously discussed, my project for this module consists of various new areas that clearly demonstrate an enhanced learning of my personal design skills and capabilities. I wish to draw upon trends in the new media industries and the skills required by potential employers, therefore increasing my employment possibilities after graduation. By taking an approach as to what could be done differently, could I do this particular job differently, does it fill a gap…ensures I am keeping positive and enthusiastic about my work.

My idea, a website based on the latest news in urban music culture (specifically electronic dance music), has been created in-order to offer targeted audiences regular updates of all the latest news and events occurring within these scenes. I feel by creating a simplistic website that is easy, minimal and clear to follow, enables all readers to easily understand the content on screen.

I researched my targeted audience prior to the production of the website, gaining all the necessary information that is required, ensuring my designs meet the user’s needs comfortably. My motivation and interests for the audiences needs are to inform and promote new music and artists that they may not currently be aware of. This will help increase an underground producer’s fan base, having their music heard worldwide.

The average age group of my target audience will be from 16+, of both genders and all ethnicities. Their occupations could be in almost any field, however predominantly students and other musicians/deejay’s currently involved in this particular scene. The family may have either a higher, middle or lower class background, with an average income ranging from less than £12,000 a year. A technical profile of my targeted demographics may refer to early adopters and early majority. The internet use can be both PC and MAC, with broadband or dial-up services, baring in mind the simplicity of the site.

Testing Plan

When I have created my beta I will need to follow a testing plan to ensure that it created a strong flash portfolio for my client. I will need to test that it works correctly and that it satisfies the needs of the end user and my client. I will also be using Jacob Nielsen’s ‘6 quality components’ as an aid to helping me with my testing.

These 6 quality components are:

Learnability
Efficiency
Memorability
Errors
Satisfaction
Utility

I have created a 3 step process to follow to prepare me for my testing after the beta has been created. These steps are:

Step 1: Test the CD-ROM myself

I will be checking the CD-ROM to make sure each page; button and other functions work as they should. This will avoid these errors appearing when the sample tests the CD-ROM.

Step 2: Instructions & Questionnaire

The next step will be to create a set of instructions for the testing sample to follow when testing the CD-ROM. Then when the user has finished testing the CD-ROM they will need to fill out a questionnaire that I will create in as part of this second step. When creating the questionnaire I need to take into account that I am not there to observe, therefore I will need to have open-ended as well as closed questions. This will help me to see if a few people in the sample found areas harder then other as they have the room to state this in the questionnaire.

Step 3: Sample Testing (Target Audience)

Find a group of 10 people to test the CD-ROM portfolio. These will need to be a representative sample of my target audience. However, it will be hard to get hold of 10 media professionals to look at the CD-ROM so I will be showing my work to people of a similar age and location.

There are some contacts that I have made that fit into this target audience. I will be giving them the CD-ROM to look at and a questionnaire to fill in once completed. If I am unable to provide them will the CD-ROM, I will send them the finished Flash file via e-mail along with instructions and the questionnaire.