HCI Practical Exercises 2019

The grade for the course is determined by a series of exercises, involving both individual work and group work. For the group work parts, each member of the group is usually given the same number of points. The exercises are not optional. I expect you to make a serious attempt at each exercise and to contribute to the work of your group for each exercise (unless you have a very good reason backed up by appropriate documentation, such as a doctor's letter). Otherwise, I reserve the right to consider you to be no longer participating in the course.

I sometimes need to make changes to an exercise, to the number of points awarded, or to the meeting appointments, so make sure that you check back regularly and read the course newsgroup.

To pass the course, you must achieve 50% or more of the total points for the course and also get at least two questions out of ten correct in the multiple choice test. I do not fix an exact points-to-grade mapping until we have finished marking everything.

You must take the multiple choice test and get at least two questions correct in order to pass the course. If you fail to take the multiple choice test or get only 0 or 1 questions correct, you will fail the entire course, regardless of your points for the other exercises. There is a second opportunity to take the multiple choice test (MC2). The results of the most recent test replace those of an earlier test.

The Scenario

Your group will play the role of user interface consultants who have been contracted to evaluate a web site. The idea is to identify as many potential usability problems as possible and feed this input into the next design phase.

During the practical exercises, your tutor will play the role of your client. Your client has heard about usability, but does not know exactly what heuristic evaluations and thinking aloud tests are.

You will present your work at each of three meetings with your client (tutor): M1, M2, and M3. You will hand in your work in advance of the meetings using our online submission system, Sapphire. Check the times of the meeting slots for your group by following the links in the table below.

Further details:


Exercise Title Type Announce Hand-In Present Slots Points Percent
1 Heuristic Evaluation Plan (HE Plan) group Tue 19 Mar 2019 lecture Wed 27 Mar 2019 17:30 M1 M1 Slots 40 6.2
2a Heuristic Evaluation (Individual Evaluations) individual Tue 19 Mar 2019 lecture Wed 10 Apr 2019 17:30 50 7.7
2b Heuristic Evaluation Report (HE Report) group Tue 19 Mar 2019 lecture Mon 29 Apr 2019 17:30 M2 M2 Slots 112 17.3
3 Thinking Aloud Test Plan (TA Plan) group Tue 02 Apr 2019 lecture Mon 29 Apr 2019 18:30 M2 M2 Slots 59 9.1
4a Thinking Aloud Test (TA Report) group Tue 02 Apr 2019 lecture Wed 05 Jun 2019 17:30 M3 M3 Slots 194 30.0
4b Thinking Aloud Test (TA Videos) group Tue 02 Apr 2019 lecture at M3 M3 M3 Slots 91 14.1
5 Multiple Choice Test individual Tue 18 Jun 2019 (MC1 Slots)
Wed 03 Jul 2019 (MC2 Slots)
100 15.5
646 100.0

The number of points may change slightly here or there, but the rough proportions will stay the same.

The logistics of organising the rooms and meeting slots mean that it is impossible to start swapping slots with other groups and shifting things around. If you have a really good reason why most of the group cannot make it to your designated slot, please email me.

To get a flavour of what you will be doing, you can look at some practical reports from previous semesters. Two more recent reports from 2017 describe a Heuristic Evaluation and a Thinking Aloud Test of Enigmail, and include short video clips illustrating some of the findings.

Do not copy the above reports to use as templates. These are not perfect examples of what I want you to do this semester. The reports from previous years are included here largely "as is", i.e. as they were handed in. They contain mistakes and omissions and I have not edited them to be perfect examples. I also change and update my report templates every year.

Language Policy

User tests should generally be carried out in the native language of the test users (or at least a language they are proficient in). For this course, choose test users who speak either English or German and stick to one language for the tests.

You may write your reports either in English or in German. Even if you run your tests, say, in German, you may choose to write your report in English. If you do write your report in a different language to your user tests, then you will have to translate the corresponding interviews and quotations into the language of the report. Choose one language for all of your plans and reports and stick to it.

For German words with umlauts, use the UTF-8 Unicode character (ä, ö, ü) rather than than appending an e (ae, oe, ue).

For your presentations, it is OK to have slides in one language (English or German) and to talk in the other language (English or German).

The questions in the multiple choice test are in English only.

Copyright and Licence Policy

I ask you to place the reports which you produce and hand in as part of this course under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. The footer of the report templates contains the corresponding sentence "This work is placed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence."

If you do not wish to do so, then simply delete that sentence from the footer of the report.

Policy for Late Submissions

You will hand in most of your work using our online submission and grading system called Sapphire.

The following policy applies to late submissions:

Unless you have a very good reason supported by appropriate documentation (doctor's letter, etc.).

Policy for Late or Missing Groups at Meetings

Do not be late for your client meetings! Groups who are late make the tutors wait and cause knock-on effects for other groups. I reserve the right to deduct points from groups who are substantially late for appointments.

Should your group not turn up at the client meeting at all (unless you have a very good reason supported by appropriate documentation), you will be given 0 points for those exercises.

Policy for Missing Group Members at Meetings

It is acceptable for one member of your group to be missing at each of your appointments, as long as the rest of the group is present and is willing to carry the missing group member.

Policy for Inactive Group Members

It sometimes happens that one group member does not actively participate and most (or all) of the work is done by the other group members. If this happens in your group and you feel that you are carrying an inactive group member, let your tutor know and only write the names of the active group members on the reports you hand in.

Policy if the Web Site Changes

The web sites being evaluated are public web sites not under our control. Occasionally, it does happen that a web site makes significant changes in the middle of the HE or TA exercise. This situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, if and when it occurs.