draft and peer review

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(Ps: the part one need to be done before 9 p.m. on March 17, and other parts can be finished in 7 days. Could you finish the part one and send to me first.)

Overview

For this assignment, you will be working to create a report that incorporates elements of instruction and usability concepts and approaches.

Technical writing often requires a usability testing phase where companies test a product or a set of instructions with target consumers/users in order to revise for a better product. For example, the www.usabiliy.gov (Links to an external site.) website speaks to the need for consistent standards in effective design, particularly for websites. In fact, you may have come across a website or software that you thought was very difficult to use (MyMiami may be a good example). Perhaps you’ve also tried to follow a set of instructions for a task and have been frustrated when the instructions were confusing or unclear. This can be due to issues of usability and the lack of good testing practices that should have helped improve the usability outcome. This assignment will ask you to demonstrate effective instruction and usability concepts.

Assignment Parameters

This assignment includes two parts:

  1. Instructions Manual (1-3 pages, including images)
  2. Usability Report (2-3 pages single-spaced—between 800-1200 words)

Part One: Instructions Manual

Choose a website or social media site such as Facebook, MyMiami, Twitter, another website you have used before, or a task that must be done on a computer program. I would recommend choosing a website or task for a user that is not intuitive. This way your readers will need to depend on your instructions rather than easily figuring out the task without your instructions.

Use Anderson’s Chapter 27: “Writing Reader-Centered Instructions,” and the www.usability.gov (Links to an external site.) website to plan and create an Instructions Manual of no more than three pages long (the shorter the better), that helps a target user navigate and complete a particular task on your chosen website or program. The user should be new to the site and, therefore, the user will need precise and useful instructions to know how to navigate the site or complete a particular task. This can mean that the Instructions Manual may need context and description in addition to instruction writing. It may be useful for you to ask, “What does a new user need to know for these instructions to be helpful?”

Examples:

  • Instructions for how to do a specialized task on a social media page.
  • Instructions for completing a particular task on MyMiami homepage.
  • Instructions for paying a bill online for a cable or utility company.
  • Instructions for creating a particular page on a website like Wix or WordPress.

TIP: Since you will need to test the instructions on users, you should also consider who your possible testers will be. This may influence your choice of what instructions to write, since your target users should not be familiar with the task/website—thus the need for them to use instructions.

Part Two: Usability Testing and Reporting

Write a short report (two or three pages—between 800 and 1200 words—single-spaced, proper formatting and sections) using the approaches stated below:

  • Get ahold of at least three representative users such as a parent, grandparent, friend, or Miami student who may not know how to use the website you’ve chosen to write instructions for.
  • Ask the users to perform the representative tasks with the Instructions you have created in Part One.
  • Using the most applicable testing methods from usability.gov and the Anderson textbook, record users’ experiences, where they succeed, and where they have difficulties completing the task. For example, you may ask the user to talk through the demonstration by “thinking out loud” their thoughts/processes as they are performing the task if this is an appropriate test.

**Remember that the most important things you’re looking for in testing your instructions is figuring out how your instructions could be improved, and how your instructions might be effective.

Using the approaches above,

  • Write a report that provides descriptive experience on the user experience, calling particular attention to the ease and difficulties that the users encountered when following your instructions manual.
  • Include a section that suggests revisions to your original Instructions Manual.
  • Use the conventions of formal report writing to create your Instructions and for the Usability Report. Refer to Anderson’s textbook and the usability.gov (Links to an external site.)site to help you create a readable, useful report.

When you create your usability report, you might find the following page on usability.gov to be helpful:

As listed on usability.gov, your usability report should include the following sections:

  • Background Summary/Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Test Results
  • Findings & Recommendations.

Here is a template for a usability short report from the www.usability.gov (Links to an external site.) website:

https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/resources/templates/report-template-usability-test-short.html (Links to an external site.)

NOTE: You do not need to use all of the components that this template provides, but it is a useful guide for how to organize and design your own report. You might notice that the template’s organization/headings differ slightly from what’s listed on the usability.gov website: Reporting Usability Test Results.

Criteria Summary

  • The project demonstrated writing that adapts the conventions of the instructions genre to specific readers who must perform a specific task.
  • The project provides clear details and explanation that will enable the reader to act effectively and efficiently.
  • The project demonstrates good design principles, relevant, effective graphic(s), and selections of details to include or exclude.
  • Given usability testing, students will be able to create a useful report that provides useful and detailed information about the test and suggestions for revising the Instructions Manual.
  • The project has correct, clear, and precise statements. It is error-free and easy to read and follow.

Step-by-step Summary of Project 3: Instructions and Usability Report

Step

1

Read the project instructions so that you have a good understanding of what the project involves and what all the requirements are. If you have questions, ask your instructor.

Step

2

Choose a task on the computer that you would like to write instructions for. Do the task yourself, paying attention to the different steps involved.

Step

3

Write instructions on how to do the task. Remember to separate the instructions into numbered steps. Include images as visual aids for your readers.

Step

4

Revise and polish your instructions, including the wording of the instructions, and the design. Remember to apply the principles of visual design discussed in the course materials.

Step

5

Make a plan for testing your instructions. Using the class materials on testing for usability, identify the most appropriate methods for testing, such as concurrent or retrospective think aloud or concurrent or retrospective probing.

Step

6

Test your instructions on at least 3 or 4 target users. Remember to follow your plan for testing users, staying consistent with your methodology.

Step

7

Analyze the data you collected. Compare the results of your participants, looking for successes, failures, differences, and similarities. Identify areas where your instructions could be better and recommendations you have for improving the instructions.

Step

8

Write a usability report about your results and recommendations. Remember to follow the structure identified in the project instructions. You might find the template provided to be helpful.

Step

9

Revise and polish your usability report. Make sure you have included enough detail and that everything is presented clearly for your reader. You might read it aloud to help you identify errors.

Step

10

Submit your final draft of Project 3. Remember to include both elements of the project: the instructions you wrote and tested, and the usability report.

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Now that you’re done with Project 3, I’d like you to take a few minutes to write a short reflection on your project. Why the reflection? (1) Stopping to reflect can help you absorb what you’ve learned. (2) Your reflection on the project gives me some insight into your thinking and experience with the project, which is helpful for me when I grade your work.

In your reflection, I’d like you to address the following questions:

  1. What do you think you learned from doing the assignment?
  2. Looking over your final draft, what do you think is the most effective part of it? Explain.
  3. Looking over your final draft, what parts were most difficult? Are there parts where you struggled?
  4. What do you think could still be improved with your final draft?
  5. Describe your writing process. How did you approach completing and writing the assignment step by step?

These questions are really meant to be prompts, so it doesn’t really matter what order you go in. Feel free to include other thoughts about the project as well.

Your reflection should be 300 or more words in length overall.

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