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Design of Multimedia Applications (Web Sites and CD-ROMs)

Franca Garzotto , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Paolo Paolini , Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Session: Design and Evaluation of Cultural Multimedia (day 1)

The objective of this course is to provide participants with systematic, model-based methods for designing and evaluating multimedia applications in cultural domains. This will be achieved by presenting some methodologies for multimedia design and evaluation, and by discussing many examples in demos of commercial CD-ROMs and web sites. Key components of the workshop are hands-on sessions, where participants will design their own application, starting with material provided by the instructors, or evaluate a system with the proposed techniques.

Until a few years ago, developers of multimedia applications paid little attention to design. Today, the role of design cannot be neglected, since the quality of the development process and the resulting products are largely affected by the quality of design. Thus, design and evaluation are strongly interrelated, and we need to standardize both and make them more cost-effective.

The course is organized in two full-day sections. The first day addresses the problem of how to systematically DESIGN on-line and off-line multimedia cultural applications. In addition, some crucial issues concerning the multimedia application development process will be discussed. The second day addresses EVALUATION problems, with a special focus on usability, which represents a significant aspect of the overall quality of any multimedia application. We will show that good design principles and concepts help analyze the quality of an application in a systematic way, and introduce a novel technology, named SUE, for usability evaluation.

The approach to design and evaluation presented in this course is model-based, since we will use a reference hypermedia model (HDM - Hypermedia Design Model) for two goals: (1) to identify the various phases in the design process and to provide the basics for specifying the design output, and (2)to identify precisely the "entities" or "objects" that are the subject of evaluation, and will be considered in our SUE methodology.

The attendant will "learn by examples" and "learn by doing". In fact, all the concepts introduced in the course will be exemplified by discussing a number of case studies in the museum domain. Furthermore, we will propose one "real life" exercise on application design and one on evaluation, which the participants will perform by working together in small groups.

At the end of this course, participants will learn how to approach the process of multimedia application design more systematically and be able to discuss their precise requirements and design choices. Moreover, they will be able to look more critically at existing products, to rationalize the good (or bad) aspects of design choices, to detect usability problems, and to formulate potential improvements in precise terms.

Note: participation in both days is strongly recommended. Still, the first day is self-standing. The second day assumes some experience with multimedia design, and some basic knowledge of the HDM model (which will be presented in the first section of the tutorial).