Academic Affairs Web Team

  • Academic Affairs Web Team

User Experience

What We Do

D.U.D.E. (Development of User-Centered Design & Experience) is a highly skilled team dedicated to achieving the harmony that can be struck between design and usability. As its very core, D.U.D.E.’s mission is to ensure that websites and web applications meet only the highest standards, utilizing various techniques and testing methods to do so. Coming from a diverse academic background whose foundation is rooted in Human Factors, the far-ranging expertise of D.U.D.E aims to deliver the best User Experience possible. From initial concept, to prototype design, all the way to testing and evaluation, the D.U.D.E. group is involved in every stage of the process to ensure that the needs of both users and stakeholders are met. Listed below are just some of the methods the group employs in order to achieve these results, custom-tailoring a program suited for every client's specific needs.

 

Our Process

 

Phase I: User Analysis

Surveys and Questionnaires

In order to fully anticipate and fulfill the needs of our clients, D.U.D.E. constructs variable surveys and questionnaires to target the most important aspects of a product. Only by asking the right questions can desired results be obtained, and one of D.U.D.E’s primary skills is making certain such optimal questions are raised.
 

Focus Groups

In this version of the survey, users meet and interact directly with D.U.D.E. staff in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of a product. Whereas surveys and questionnaires deal with a broader audience, focus groups are designed to be more personal, therefore allowing us to better understand their experience.
 

Task Analysis

Every product or application begins and ends with a series of tasks. The true measure of a user’s satisfaction is in how difficult or easy these tasks are to perform. Whether we are simply looking at how a user opens a web browser, or how intuitive they feel a particular system’s data entry is, D.U.D.E strives to properly analyze these nuances to make their experience as comfortable as possible.
 

Task Flows

The process of how a task works is just as important as the task itself. It should be no surprise that the more complex a task is the harder the task is to perform. It is one of D.U.D.E’s responsibilities, then, to ensure that proper task flows are maintained so as to leave the product polished and refined.
 

Heuristic Evaluations

D.U.D.E. is not simply concerned with how products work in the present, but how they can be improved for future versions as well. In the same way that we strive to ensure that current products and applications are usable, we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon other features in the future.
 

Stakeholder’s Needs

As important as the user is in our testing, we always keep in mind the interests of our stakeholder’s. Although we conduct numerous surveys and focus groups, one of our primary concerns is that the stakeholder’s vision for their product is not compromised. To this end, we are dedicated to making sure our stakeholder’s needs are always met.
 

Personas

A form of testing which entails creating artificial users, personas aid in the development and design process of a product by ensuring that no stone is left unturned. Even if a particular persona is not a targeted user, we here at D.U.D.E are always trying to make products as dynamic and as usable as possible.
 

User Diaries

D.U.D.E. is also equipped to send products out into real-world environments by using test participants in order to fully test its capabilities. By incorporating User Diaries, D.U.D.E. is able to comprehensively quantify and analyze a product’s usability outside of controlled environments by analyzing participants’ journal entries.

Phase II: Interaction Design

Wireframing

A function of our process here at D.U.D.E. involves creating mock-ups for a proposed project or product. In doing so we are able to meet the needs of our stakeholders and are also able to anticipate any issues later down the line. Mock-ups range from low-fidelity sketches to detailed assets of a product depending on client needs.
 

Information Architecture

In a similar way to wireframing, another aspect of D.U.D.E’s expertise is in creating sitemaps and blueprints of products. More so than simply laying out how a product will look and feel, information architecture involves how information is found or used in a product.
 

Depth vs. Breadth

The danger in any form of design is developing too deep or too wide. An example of the former is in requiring too many steps in a particular task, making it unnecessarily complex. An example of breadth is having navigation that is unclear due to having numerous options that are all very similar. At D.U.D.E. we are always working towards cleaning up such design errors.
 

Participatory Design

One of the ways in which we ensure success here at D.U.D.E. is to reinvite past users to see if their original problems with a product have been addressed. This type of testing is very useful if only for the fact that it allows us to pinpoint exactly what is being improved upon. However, the downfall of this method is that users familiar with the product can also lend personal biases to experiments by performing certain tasks too easily.
 

Card Sorting

A method of categorizing and organizing information, card sorting allows D.U.D.E. to remove extraneous information from a system. Similar to developing taxonomy, if two similar pieces of information can be grouped together in a logical fashion, D.U.D.E. makes it a point to do so in order to simplify the user’s experience.

Phase III: Test & Evaluation

Usability Testing

When a product is ready to be released, usability testing is conducted in order to track whether or not the requirements of that product are even met. Then, the D.U.D.E. team proposes questions: Is the client satisfied with the current version of it? Is the user satisfied as well? Furthermore, usability testing relies on determining whether or not a product meets a user’s needs (note difference between needs and wants). Does it, for example, achieve its intended goals?
 

A&B Testing

This is an alternate form of testing which involves showcasing multiple versions, of a product in order to determine which is most successful. One method involves using the same user to test all available versions of a product. Alternatively, tests can be conducted with several participants who are unaware of the other versions in order to produce a purer, unbiased result. Both methods have their merit, and D.U.D.E. evaluates the use of each on a case-by-case basis.