Usability improvements to the e-Science Central SDK

Lessons Learned

Although the project has been a success there were a number of issues that made the project more difficult than originally perceived. These can be broken down into the following broad categories: HCI techniques, personal time and technical.

HCI Techniques: Although we did have a HCI expert on the advisory side for this project this person was overloaded with other tasks and was only able to provide minimal input into the project. This meant that certain techniques such as personas; Focus groups or task-based evaluation was only discovered at a late stage in the project.

Personal time: It turned out to be far harder than expected to obtain time with researchers using e-SC than expected. The original plan had been to hold a workshop in which users could provide input as to how we could improve the SDK. However, as it was almost impossible to get all people together in the same place at the same time we eventually had to change this to one-on-one discussions with users of different abilities. In future work we would seek to hold one-to-one interviews to develop personas rather than attempt a full workshop.

Technical: A number of technical issues caused problems during the project. The variation between Web Browsers plagued us during the project meaning that significant amounts of time were used to ensure that layouts and styles worked across platforms. On completion the wizard tool dropping the user into the expert view at the end, which was not the original intention. Users, however, saw this as a benefit, and as such we decided to keep this as part of the design.

In general we feel that this project not only allowed us to develop a better SDK for e-SC but also helped us to discover the merits and techniques required for improving usability and learnability. Something that we will now be applying over the rest of e-SC.

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