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iNTU Usability Testing Project


While living abroad, a colleague and I decided to test our the webportal for Nanyang Technological University in Singapore - www.intu.ntu.edu.sg. It was our first usability testing project, and while the project was far from perfect, it provided invaluable insight into the user research process as well as an opportunity to implement human-centred design principles in a real world context.

Tools:

Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Mockingbird, R, ggplot2, user testing

The Problem

Starting a new semester at NTU required students to navigate the iNTU webportal to complete many mandatory tasks to prepare for the upcoming term. Students have to complete tasks such as registering for courses, or using the portal to navigate to our course information on an external site. Having no familiarity of the website, we found the interface to be incredibly confusing and convoluted, and experienced tremendous bouts of frustration trying to complete these simple tasks.

User Profile: NTU Students

Our target demographic were NTU students, focusing on the motivation driving their navigation of an academic webportal such as iNTU. We considered what tasks would be most important to NTU students - using a webportal to search for information or registering for courses for example. We aimed to make the website simple and functional for an NTU student regardless of their duration of studies at NTU.

Methodology

We recruited three participants with varying familiarity to iNTU - none (1), intermediate (2), and advanced (3). We recorded all of our participants completing the tests using video software. The software we used included: Quicktime screen capture video recordings, video recordings with a Canon EOS 7D, and Adobe Premiere Pro. After capturing the tests on video, we went back through the recordings to record their paths taken to get to the target (goal), and recorded the number of clicks each path took. 

iNTU Interface

Compartment A = The column containing the most popular links on the portal, including STARS, STARS Planner, Degree Audit, etc..

Compartment B = Contains tabs labeled Library, StudentLink, NTULearn, and Channel.

Compartment C = Graphical display of various functions such as news updates and the campus map.

Compartment D = Open, customizable space where users can select functions to display and how to organize them.

TASK I: Course registration

Purpose: at the start of the semester, every student needs to be able to register for their courses.

Results

Compared to our ideal path of execution of one click to complete this task, we can see that the unfamiliar user (participant 1) has a hard time navigating the site (10 clicks). This elucidates the problem that some functions on iNTU are extremely unintuitive for new students.

Recommendations

Our suggestions to simplify the path to course registration. 

TASK II: Search function

Purpose: the nature of a webportal is connecting students to resources. Students should be able to use a general search functions to bring them to their target. 

Results

Our ideal path of execution was 2 clicks, and two participants took almost 7 times that many clicks (14). One person had to terminate the task. This is indicative of a very poorly designed search function.

Recommendations

Follow design convention and place a search bar at the top right corner of the page.

TASK III: Find a grade

Purpose: Throughout the semester, students will want to access a grade. Students should be connected to their evaluations through iNTU. 

Results

There were fewer prominent problems with task 3, but we highlighted one small addition to the toolbar that could easily reduce the cognitive load on users when looking for grades.

Recommendations

TASK IV: University withdrawal

Purpose: We used the target of university withdrawal to observe how users navigate the administrative submenus of the website. 

Results

Fewer problems were observed in task 4 however, participants did express confusion when trying to navigate the visually convoluted placement of submenus in iNTU. 

Original interface of iNTU StudentLink menu page.

Mock-up implementing suggestions to graphically display the submenus.

iNTU: Re-imagined

Final mock-up integrating human-centred design principles to optimize graphical layout of iNTU homepage interface.

Using Format