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Evaluation of Hypermedia Productions

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

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

Morning: Framework for Evaluating Hypermedia Applications

This course focuses on how to identify usability problems and design weaknesses of hypermedia applications, presenting a model based evaluation methodology and exemplifying it by means of examples (from museum CD-ROM's and web sites.) The basic ideas of this methodology are: i) inspection, i.e., evaluation performed by expert evaluators only without user involvement, is the most cost-effective way to evaluate an hypermedia application - with respect to user testing, it is less expensive and more analytical and exhaustive; ii) to perform inspection efficiently, it is necessary to have a set of design concepts (i.e., a common design model). This first half-day on hypermedia evaluation will introduce the overall "model-based" approach to hypermedia inspection, and will present a set of guidelines for performing inspection in a systematic way. These guidelines - called "abstract tasks" are "patterns" of inspection activities that describe which actions must be taken by the inspector to discover potential inconsistencies, usability defects, and design weaknesses. Understanding abstract tasks and performing inspection efficiently requires the knowledge of the basic concepts of a design model, which will also be presented in the course.

Afternoon: Practicum in Hypermedia Evaluation

The purpose of this second half day is to put the above evaluation methodology in practice, by having the participants actually inspecting one or more real museum applications (on CDROM or Web). People will be organized in groups of 2-3 persons; each group will receive the complete set of more than 40 inspection patterns ("abstract tasks") and one or more applications to inspect. They will be asked to apply the abstract tasks to the case-studies and to produce an evaluation report on each inspected applications. This half day will end with a discussion of the various usability problems and design weaknesses discovered by the participants.