Buff Advisor Usability
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Description
Buff Advisor has multiple uses for WTAMU students, it provides them quick access to not only financial aid and getting registered for classes but also provides multiples links to many different location throughout the WTAMU website. Students would be able to buy books and make payments via credit/debit card, also be able to edit personal information and check transcripts and GPA. Buff Advisor would be able to send you via a quick link to housing, buff gold card, student e-mail and other locations where the entire location would change. .

Usability Identification
With so many different locations available at Buff Advisor there are many opportunities for the system to kick you out when exploring other locations, making you have to use the navigation button to go back and possibly having to log-in multiple times to get anything done. Buff Advisor has made the usability easy by allowing your browser to open up other locations in different tabs which will keep you logged in and still have quick access to Buff Advisor.

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A seminar lab photo used to simulate what testing would have looked like for Buff Advisor. Source: Carleton University

Testing

Much user testing is simply aimed at generating qualitative insights that are communicated through lists of usability problems and highlights videos showing striking cases of user frustration. Such insights are sufficient for most practical usability engineering applications where the goal is the improvement of a user interface through iterative design.

Buff Advisor has been the same for the past few years, so updated testing may not be present. Although, when first launched, Buff Advisor should have gotten a few months of good thorough testing by the original developers. After that, we believe it may have been tested by several random students who browsed the interface and then graded how easy it was to navigate through it. When the randomly selected students are testing the environment, they should have been taking notes as to what they liked/disliked in Buff Advisor, as well as notifying developers of any bugs/issues discovered in the testing phase.

Personal Testing
On a personal look at the usability of Buff Advisor, it is best to say that it gets the job done. While being very straightforward and essentially easy to use there do exist a couple of usability inconsistencies that arise as annoyances but do nothing to hamper the job completion. The key one that I shall point out is the fact that on different pages the dates are listed in different orders. E.G. On the schedule and statement page they list the most recent date whereas on the class schedule they list the most recent semester last. While this does nothing to inhibit usability it can arise as an annoyance when on the page often and expecting menus to have consistency.

Past, Current, and Future Users
With the technology world expanding and being able to do many different things on the internet many schools, large/small companies are pushing the web to do all activities as if one was in the store or at school face to face with someone. The problem is that many users young and old may have difficulty navigating around to be able to accomplish their tasks because what is easy for one individual may be complicated for many. Any new additions, expansions and upgrades to the software have to be tested by many in order to maintain the usability of any well developed interface.

Screen Shots

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Buff Advisor Main Page
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Buff Advisor Login Page
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Buff Advisor Student Menu

Older Versions

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Screen capture from wayback machine, this was Buff Advisor in 2002

Ethnographic Observation
Buff Advisor would rely heavily on ethnographic observation. To use this design method one would take the role of a student. By doing this it gives us an insight as to what goals students need to accomplish and what tools those students need to attain them. This approach would be quick and cost effective. We would also do a field study with current students to gain their perspective. We would interview them in their setting to get an understanding of what tools they need as a student. With all the gathered information we will put together a website that provides all the tools a student needs as well as a friendly interface to interact with them.

Prototype

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Buff Advisor Home Page Prototype
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Buff Advisor Main Student Page Prototype

References
http://www.useit.com/papers/uselabs.html

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