Assignment 3: Instructions and Usability Testing (Process Description/Procedure)

Using ordinary materials such as paper, colored pencils, paperclips, tape, etc., make an object. It can be any sort of object, but it must be original (i.e., no paper airplanes, origami, or any other object you can find instructions for elsewhere). You must make this object yourself. There will be a prize for the most creative object 🙂

While you are making the object, take notes on how you do it. You may want to take a video of yourself making the project, and/or take photos along the way as visual reminders of the procedure.

1. Transform your notes into a 1-2 pages set of instructions that can be easily understood and followed by others. The instructions should only use words; do not include any images in this first draft. Directions to recreate your original object must be at least 10 steps, and should not take more than 30 minutes for another person to do. Remember to make your procedure: numbered, ordered correctly, comprehensive, clear (use “action” command verbs to instruct your users what to do), accurate, and appropriate for your audience/purpose.

I suggest you also “test” your instructions before turning them in, re-creating your object a second time from your set of instructions, and making any necessary adjustments to the instructions along the way.

2. Upload the instructions to Dropbox (labeled correctly, and in the appropriate folder) and bring four printed copies of the instructions to class. Also, take a photograph of your object have it accessible in class (either in your e-mail or in your private Dropbox account/folder).

Also, come to class on W 10/15 with the materials necessary to make the object twice (so two sets of materials) grouped together–such as a bag or box; make sure to bring all of the materials, including scissors, tape, ruler, glue, etc. if you used them to make the object. You will test the quality of your procedure in class by watching a classmate use your instructions and material. In turn, you will help test his or her procedure. It is crucial that you arrive to class on time and with the assignment complete (and all your materials with you). We will begin the testing right at the start of class. If you do not come to Tuesday’s class prepared/on time, you will receive no credit for Assignment 3.

3. Read material and look at samples.

4. Use the test results and my guidelines–discussed in class on Wednesday 10/15–to revise the procedure into a formatted document with:

  • Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Reflection (1-2 pages, single-spaced, addressed to me), reflecting on what you learned during in-class usability testing (observation) and interview, and how you revised the instructions (or object) accordingly. You should also reflect on your experience of being a “user” (making someone else’s object), and how this has helped your understanding of both creating instructions and of usability testing.
  • Revised Instructions (this should include the materials need, skill set, and time), which should include graphics (and a photo of the completed object)
  • The original instructions

This final version is due on W 10/22, submit to Dropbox (labeled correctly, in the appropriate folder) before class begins and bring one printed copy of the entire revised document to class (in a portfolio folder with all prior drafts, peer review, etc.)

Assignment 3 is worth 10% of your overall course grade.