Friday, April 10, 2009

M364 Block 1, Unit 3, Activity 5

This activity builds upon Activity 6.4 on page 182 of the Set Book. Compare the two electronic calendar designs using the following usability and user experience goals:
  • Efficiency: In particular, which design enables the user to find a given date most quickly?
  • Learnability: which design will be easiest to learn?
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Enjoyable.
Which design do you prefer, and why?
Efficiency: The desktop design appears to be very inefficient for finding dates since you have to "leaf through" the diary, so the time required to locate a date page is proportional to its distance from the currently opened date. The phone version requires keystrokes instead of mouse clicks but since you're entering a date the number of keystrokes is not large, and does not increase with calendar distance. The desktop diary is probably more efficient for viewing dates within the same week, the phone diary is probably more efficient for navigating to more distant dates.

Learnability: The desktop diary is probably easier to learn, especially given its limited date navigation and graphical rendering, but the simplicity of the phone diary makes it no harder to learn than necessary.

Aesthetically pleasing: The desktop diary is able to use a clean, helpful graphical rendering which offers hints about its further functionality (tabs for the notes and address book sections). The phone diary is written for a visually restricted environment, which means that any comparison is almost as much a comparison of the environments as of the designs. So I would say that the desktop design is more aesthetically pleasing, while noting that this more helpfully addresses the question "Which design would a user prefer?" than "Could the phone design be made more pleasing?"

Enjoyable: The cross-referencing possibilities of the desktop design might generate some enjoyment. Assuming we can click on "John" in an appointment, get taken to his address page, and then see all his appointments (in the same way that we can see all people listed for an appointment), this cross-referencing, together with the ability to read notes from previous meetings, might give a certain bookish enjoyment. The phone design offers less prospect of discovery, so I think scores even closer to a neutral zero.

Assuming that both designs are equally available (for example, that I have gone out and bought an iPhone) I would prefer the desktop design for its greater efficiency when dealing with nearby dates, its slightly greater enjoyability and its better aesthetics,  though I might find its lower efficiency for distant dates frustrating.

No comments: