Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

The new WikiStudent is now live

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

The new WikiStudent, for Unisa students, went live a couple of weeks ago. The URL:

We need Unisa students to become editors to help fill in the content - see the new site for how to join.

This blog is no longer being updated. You can browse the archives if you’re interested in how WikiStudent was re-built.

I meet a future tester

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Today I met my new neighbour who, it turns out, I had bumped into in 2004 at the post office where she was sending off a Unisa assignment!

We actually recognised each other, even though we’d only met once 5 years ago. I remember how it happened: She was posting a Unisa assignment, I approached her and told her she could submit them electronically (which she didn’t know), and I showed her how to log on to SOL (Students On Line it was called in those days, not myUnisa!) and of course I also told her about my Unisa website (called COSINE, not WikiStudent, in those days).

So, the upshot is, she’s agreed to do some usability testing for me :-)  She’s already graduated, but her input will still be valuable because I need testers who know how Unisa works and what students want.

Tester # 1 views a module page

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I love this tester - he’s very talkative and “thinks out loud” when looking at the pages I show him, which is exactly why I’m doing this “live” user testing. You learn some things that you don’t learn by emailing someone and asking for feedback electronically.

Here’s the page he looked at (COS340A)


COS 340-A

And here’s what I learnt:


  1. He understood the picture of the teapot graphic (i.e. that it was related to the subject COS340A), even though he is studying languages, not computer graphics.
  2. He liked the idea of taking a quiz about a subject.
  3. He noticed all the [edit] buttons along the right-hand side of the page and wasn’t afraid to click on them.


  1. He didn’t notice the tabs at the top of the page, so I had to point them out.
  2. He thought the “discussion” tab was where you could e.g. complain about the lecturers. (It’s actually where you discuss the content and layout of the page, not a discussion forum!)
  3. I asked him to try sell a textbook and he had no clue how to insert his name and book into a table. The wiki markup for tables with all those pipe symbols (||) is not intuitive!


  1. He said he would want to print the page, and clicked on the “printable version” link.
  2. He thought that the assignment due dates calendar wasn’t necessary because myUnisa has this info.
  3. He said “where are the other students?”. He wanted to see names on the page, of other people taking the course.

So, I’m off to make some changes to the layout of Unisa module pages…

To quote from page 134 of Don’t make me think:

Testing one user is 100 percent better than testing none. Testing always works, and even the worst test with the wrong user will show you important things you can do to improve your site.

Very true!

Tester # 1!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

This morning I asked a Unisa student (someone I work with, doing his honours in linguistics) to have a look at the home page and give his impressions.

The following pic is what he saw (please excuse the spacing and stuff… this is only a skeleton draft!)
Home page

Here’s what Tester # 1 said:

* He liked the satellite map and wanted to zoom in even more, and go to the library :-D

* He had to think a bit about what the “Recent edits” links were about, and didn’t know what the image of the textbook was. Reason: these were modules he wasn’t taking and it was a textbook he didn’t recognise. After a few seconds he recognised the Unisa module code format and correctly guessed what was going on.

* He liked the idea of the poll, but didn’t even read the question. Don’t worry, I’ll choose another design with a larger font.

* Surprise: He thought the category tag cloud should appear higher up, not at the bottom of the page, because you had to scroll in order to see it. He said that seeing the subject names (Computer science, Law… Linguistics!) made it more obvious what the site was about, so I’ve gone ahead and put it smack bang in the middle of the page, as you can see. I think I originally thought of putting it at the bottom because that’s where tag clouds are often found on websites. It’s so good to get an outsider’s opinion!