Affordances and User-Created Artifacts

A great example of user created artifacts that I noticed this week is the labeling of a mixing board. Mixing boards allow for different sound sources to be modified then combined to a central output. This is extremely helpful, if you have multiple mike sources on stage and would like to dynamically change their sensitivity throughout a performance or talk.

This is a standard mixing board. Notice how all the sliders look the same and there is no default place for labeling inputs.

Although the slider design affords pushing and pulling, it nevertheless looks identical regarding of the input source. Therefore, AV people often will have to hand label each input using tape. This user-created artifact is easy to implement while allowing unlimited flexibility for the next job where the inputs might change.

An example of hand written labels for the mixing board’s inputs. These are commonly known as scribble strips.

Evaluation of the SmartPark system

Conducted by Sruthi Iyer and Siroberto Scerbo on April 24, 2013

Executive Summary

The SmartPark system improves conventional university parking services by identify unoccupied parking spaces around campus through continuous automated monitoring;  and provide users with information on time-sensitive parking restrictions for occupied spaces via mobile-friendly web services. The goal is to managing the parking experience at Virginia Tech by providing permit holders a rapid and a less stressful parking experience.

We performed a formative evaluation on a high level prototype using standard usability heuristics to determine areas that needed to be addressed. From this evaluation, we found over twelve different problems for both the mobile and kiosk versions of the software and arranged the findings in a cost-importance table. In total, we found five high priority items for the kiosk and another five high priority items for the mobile version.


This evaluation is of the SmartPark system high level prototypes for both the mobile app and standalone kiosk. The SmartPark system improves conventional university parking services by identify unoccupied parking spaces around campus through continuous automated monitoring;  and provide users with information on time-sensitive parking restrictions for occupied spaces via mobile-friendly web services. The goal is to managing the parking experience at Virginia Tech by providing permit holders a rapid and a less stressful parking experience. It is ment to be used by all Virginia Tech permit holders–student, faculty, staff, etc.–at specified kiosks or on a mobile device.

For this evaluation we were provided a series of tasks representative of common user work tasks for this system. As this is a formative evaluation not all aspects of the prototype were working, so we evaluated logging in, finding current parking spaces, adding time to a metered spot, and finding where to park and what the associated rules for that lot are.



This evaluation was conducted by two usability engineering students, one female and one male, in computer science. Both participants have technical expertise in coding, and experience using heuristic methods for evaluation.


As mentioned previously, we were given tasks by our client that represented frequent work tasks for users. Below are the tasks broken up by system:


  • Register as a new user into the system
  • Login
    • Login by scanning your ID
    • Login as a visitor
    • Login as a student
  • Figure out where you are parked.
  • You are parked in a metered spot, add 45 minutes to your meter
  • Print out a map of where you are parked
  • Find where you can read about how to appeal a citation
  • Find out where you can park if you’re a commuter, graduate, or resident parker
  • Find out where near Durham hall you can park

Mobile App

  • Register as a new user into the system with a commuter graduate permit
  • Login as a Virginia Tech student user
  • Figure out where you are parked
  • Find out the parking rules of the spot you are parked in
  • Add 45 minutes to your metered spot
  • Figure out what lots you can park in
  • Find a location by an address
  • Find out where you currently are on campus (not your car).
  • Find the open spots near a building whose name you know, but whose location you don’t know.

Evaluation Design

For this evaluation we performed each task in succession, using a usability heuristic evaluation to determine areas that need to be addressed. Once we had a sufficient number of problems we ranked them and created a cost-importance table.


Here is the final cost-importance table derived from our evaluation.

Problem Group Problem Imp Solution Cost Priority Ratio Priority Rank Cumulative Cost
Kiosk Can’t login as student or visitor M Have option of scanning or logging in as student/visitor 4 M 1 4
Search for location enters infinite loop. No way to enter home screen M Fix bugs with respect to what each button does 4 M 2 8
System allows person to register without selecting permit type 5 Don’t have the “Register” button until all fields have been entered 1 5000 3 9
“Search for Location” and “Where can I park” sound like options that perform similar tasks 5 Clear descriptions of what each task does 2 2500 4 11
After making payment, goes to screen with general information and comes back to payment screen. Don’t know if I paid successfully or not 5 Give a payment confirmation screen with continue button to take to home screen and separate button to view General Information 3 1667 5 14
Cross button not clearly visible on “View Map of Campus” 1 Have Back button 1 1000 6 15
Smart App On entering this email id and password, clicking on Continue doesn’t redirect to any other screen M Take back to home page/main menu 2 M 1 2
Can’t reach screen to make payment on the meter M Give payment options for after parking is done 5 M 2 7
In “Where can I park” option, shows red crosses and green ticks. I don’t need to see where I can’t park 5 Only show where one can park 3 1667 3 10
In “Where can I park” option, one can click on red crosses and not green ticks. Confused as to where I can park 5 Don’t show any marks of where one can’t park 3 1667 4 13
When I click on a location in “Where can I park” asks for email and password though already signed in 5 Take back to home page/main menu 5 1000 5 18
After selecting “Search for Location” and “Current Location” after that, there is a Continue/Cancel option 1 No need for such an option. Just take to screen showing the current location after this button has been clicked on 1 1000 6 19
Within “View map of campus” first there is a Back button then a Home button in different areas of the screens 3 Make Back button or Home button consistent across all screens and in the same location on the screen 5 600 7 24
On “Your Car Info” there is a small magnifying glass icon which indicates a zooming feature on the map but actually opens a search bar. I don’t need a search bar for looking at “My car info” 1 Remove this icon or have a zoom in feature 3 333 8 27

Sketching an Emotional Usage Experience of a Mobile Device

There are two ways that I personally interact with my cellphone that produces an emotional response. The first is adding symbols to a contact to denote a special connotation.

This the contact card for my girlfriend Kate.

This the contact card for my girlfriend Kate.

An example of this is the heart shape for my girlfriend Kate. Since my phone currently doesn’t support symbols, I created it with the less than character and the number 3. This symbol brings me great joy whenever I look at my phone for a missed call or a text message on the home screen.

Text message from Kate.

Text message from Kate.

I often notice the symbol first and immediately know that the message is from her, making it more special. Another way that I personalize her message, which is great for not having to look at the screen, is customizing her ring tone and text message tone and vibration pattern.

Custom tones and vibration patterns for both calls and text

Custom tones and vibration patterns for both calls and text

I often will send her a text before something important, like a talk or presentation. During the presentation, I receive her text message (which I know because of the vibration pattern), and a feel a sense of calm and reassurance.  This emotional response wouldn’t be as strong if I didn’t know who was actually text messaging me.

Persona – DJ Rocksteady

The product is a digital club that provides a real-time music sharing. Similar to a physical club, there are different “rooms” or genres that users can enter and either be DJs or listeners. DJs provide music for the room, from the turntable library, and get rated per song by the listeners. If the room likes the DJ’s choice, he / she continues to play from their queue, if not, the song cuts out and the next DJ starts. This means that all music provided is chosen by a person, rather than an algorithm. Listeners, in addition to voting, can post comments that display above their avatar in the room. This helps make connections to new users and potentially create conversations with people who share similar tastes in music. However, it also allows for a richer interaction by providing character customization and a visual indicator of how popular a room is. In addition to these visual comments, there is also a public and private chatting service available between all users.

User characteristsics

Some of the users characteristics I expect to see for this product are:

  • enjoys music
  • range of music knowledge
  • average person
  • unsatisfied with current radio applications (pandora, spotify, etc)
  • like social aspects of music
  • wants to listen with a group a friends who may not be collocated
  • wants to meet people with similar music tastes
  • aspires to a be a DJ
  • a wide range of ages and lifestyles

The persona – DJ Rocksteady

Kevin linden is a 14 year old freshman in high school living in a small rural community. He participates in the school band, and has recently become interested in recording and mixing music. He often shares his creations and mashups with friends and the world via YouTube.

Looking to take his craft to the next level he has started soliciting his viewers for feedback. Unfortunately, he isn’t able to get much through the largely unrelated comments on his YouTube channel. Another option would be to try his hand at playing his music for live audiences, but he doesn’t have many choices in his small town and is too young for most clubs / bars. The nearest opportunity is a bowling alley over an hour away, but without a drivers license he feels bad pestering his parents to drive him and his friends back and forth.

Design process

To come up with the persona of Kevin, I looked for a situation in which turntable would really make the persona happy and could showcase something unique compared to other competing products. I also wanted a persona that was relatable to the design team. Kevin is just a kid with a dream to make it big–which is an idea that most people can relate to, especially designers.

Developing Kevin

I started developing Kevin by first brainstorming potential users, I thought of the different roles and the people that would fill them. From there, I looked at the different user characteristics and determined which ones I found most impactful and unique to turntable.

I ultimately choose Kevin, because he hit many different characteristics that differentiated turntable from other music sharing services such as spotify or pandora–which shows the need for this type of service.

Project 2: Contextual Inquiry and Contextual Analysis

Team #2
Community Jukebox (Formally Art Jukebox)
Client – CHCI Community

This project was to perform a contextual inquiry so we can understand existing client work and information sharing strategies. We performed interviews and observations of different user roles within the CHCI and produced a WAAD from the work activity notes derived from our raw contextual notes.

Sruthi Iyer, Sheriff Jolaoso, and Siroberto Scerbo
CS/ISE 5714 – Spring 2013

Table of Contents

Concept and Scope of Community Jukebox

Concept Statement

Community Jukebox (CJ) is a distributed presentation system, that will be installed in the CRC. Patrons will engage and interact with each other by contributing different media, from the web or their own collections,which CJ will display. The CRC will have a “network” of display thats will enable multiple individuals to enjoy the same content. Much like a jukebox, users will make their request for content and the system will schedule the media that it will display. However, for CJ, the requests are made via web-enabled devices. Audience members can vote / indicate they like certain content which will have affect on current and future scheduling. Community jukebox builds community while providing patrons an opportunity to entertain themselves and each other.

Tailoring the Scope

The initial project proposal was formulated with the Virginia Tech student community as a whole so it was meant to develop a sense a community among the dining halls however when the task was to identify the different user classes, it made more sense to narrow the scope of the project to a smaller, more tightly knit community which is why the Jukebox is now going to be designed only for the CHCI at the Knowledge Works 2 building of the CRC where  students, faculty and administration people constitute the community.

Interviews with Client Representatives

Prepping for the Interview

We had an initial set of questions for the students who visited the dining halls but after altering the scope of the project, the questions had to be modified to suit the community within the CHCI instead. Many questions were also added as the scope started taking a well-defined coherent shape. So we prepared to interview people representing each user class we identified within the CHCI community. The questions were themselves categorized into 3 sections that would elicit different responses from the interviewed community members. The questions were decided upon keeping in mind that the interviewed members would not be able to gauge what kind of system we intend to design. They would only be told that our project involved building community within the CHCI.

Determining Who to Interview

Our scope further defined the client representatives for the project to be people who frequented CHCI. This included graduate students with desks in CHCI, faculty with offices in CHCI, and the administrative office staff located in CHCI. Our specific interviewees were:

Sharon Kinder-Potter

Graduate Program Coordinator
Office in KWII/CHCI
Sharon is in her second year as graduate program coordinator. Some of her duties include disseminating information to students and faculty via email and sending and receiving information from the graduate department and computer science department.

Sharon Chu

Third year Ph.D. student in HCI
Workspace in KWII/CHCI
Sharon is a third year Ph.D. student working with Dr. Quek. Her research is in the role of the technological medium in children’s creative process in the context of creative storytelling.

Ankit Ahuja

2nd year Masters student in HCI
Workspace in KWII/CHCI
Ankit is a second year Masters student working with Dr. Perez-Quinones. His research is in personal information management.

Dr. Andrea Kavanaugh

Senior Research Assistant, Associate Professor
Office in KWII/CHCI
Dr. Kavanaugh has been an associate professor in CHCI since 2002, working in the area of social computing, including communication behavior and effects, and development communication (communication and information technology use and effects in developing countries). Current research funded by the National Science Foundation includes “Participation on the Town Square in the Era of Web 2.0″ ( and “Digital Library Network for Crisis, Tragedy and Recovery” (

We felt that interviewing these four people would provide enough depth, for we had covered all basis of the type of people who commonly occupy the CHCI, and we have defined these people as our users.

Our Initial Interview Questions

  1. Do you feel close to the community?
  2. Do you currently do anything to get to know the people in the community better?
  3. Do you normally work/eat with a group or by yourself?
  4. What is an activity that you feel would facilitate conversation or getting to know people better?
  5. Do you feel a sense of community while you are here? Why or why not?
  6. What things would make you feel closer to the people here?
  7. Would you like to make a more personal connection to this community?
  8. Do you share information between groups?
  9. What type of information?
  10. What different groups do you share this information with?
  11. Would you be comfortable having others see any of this information?
  12. How do you currently share this information?
  13. Do you use reddit / slashdot / or another aggregator community or forum?
  14. What do you like about that aggregator community or forum?

Initial Contact with Client Representatives

Sharon Kinder-Potter interview

In interviewing Mrs. Kinder-Potter, we found she was very amiable and we learned about how she felt about the CHCI community as well as how she shared information amongst different groups of people. She was avid in expressing that she enjoyed the open house event held at the CHCI, where she was able to communicate with students and faculty and know more about what’s going on in the department and felt that this would facilitate more of a community vibe in the CHCI. She also stated that a good way for people to get to know one another in the CHCI would be to just be more friendly and outgoing.

In terms of information sharing, we found that she disseminates and receives information from many sources. Most information she sends out is to students about upcoming events and deadlines for forms. She also finds that she sends information intra-office sometimes, forwarding social information like funny images. She feels that there is some social information that can be shared with some and not with others though, so she is cautious in social information dissemination.

Ankit Ahuja Interview

Ankit was excited about being an interviewee, and was very helpful in determining a student’s perspective of the CHCI. He felt that currently the CHCI is a fragmented community and with most students not working in the building difficult to interact. The majority of the people he knew where either in his lab or introduced to him through other friends. Nevertheless he felt a personal connection with the CHCI community, especially the students he talks to more often.

As a social media user, Ankit shares a lot of information publicly through Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  For sharing with fellow students he mostly shares through listservs, although he would like a dedicated channel for posting to the entire CHCI.

Sharon Chu Interview

Sharon was very interested in participating in the interview when she heard that it was a project for fostering and building community within the CHCI. She was very willing to help and answer all the questions she was asked during the interview. She also hopes that we get to build the system we are designing

Dr. Kavanaugh Interview

Dr. Kavanaugh was very gracious to give us time to interview her for a faculty perspective. She has been a member of the CHCI since inception and has seen many changes to the community. The majority of her interaction with other CHCI members is through social events, seminars, and referrals from colleagues / students.

Her information sharing habits are like the other client representatives–mostly text through emails via listservs. Most of the information she sends isn’t necessarily private and could benefit other recipients by providing different avenues for research.


Collecting Raw Contextual Data

The manner in which we acquired raw contextual data was in two main forms–interviews and photos. In the interviews we were able to record audio, and for some of our interviews video, while taking notes and asking questions. This was an effective raw contextual data acquisition process because we were able to revisit the notes in context with the actual interview recording on the spot. An example of one of our interviews is below:

Photos of the current CHCI office space were the second form of contextual data we. The main purpose of doing this was to see how information was being disseminated and where information could be located for mass dissemination. The photos also allowed us to see the office space where our clients worked, so that our provided solution could be cultivated for the CHCI. Below are samples of some photos that we took of the CHCI space:

Sample Task Data

From our interviews, we learned that the majority of information is sharing through emails.  Here is a selection of emails from different work roles:


[Gradstudents] Reminder: CSRC Career Fair TODAY

Libby Bradford <>
to cs-undg, cs-interest, bburg-gradstud.



You are cordially invited to attend the CSRC Spring Career Fair today, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Commonwealth Ballroom of Squires Student Center.

Please mark your calendar and don’t miss this exciting event. This is a career fair just for CS students, and is a wonderful opportunity to make connections with our corporate partners that can lead to full-time employment after graduation or to internships and co-ops during your time at Virginia Tech. These companies are here because they want to hire our students, so please take advantage of this opportunity.


Please come in business casual attire with plenty of copies of your resume in hand. Light refreshments will be served from 4:00 and 6:00.


I’ve posted helpful suggestions for preparing for the event at You can also find company information at this page. You can also download a PDF file of all company information and the booth layout to take with you to the career fair.


Companies not planning to attend: Cisco, Near Infinity, Pariveda Solutions, PDRi, Qualcomm, Readyforce, Solers, Sphere of Influence, and Zeta Associates.


Student check in will be just outside the Commonwealth Ballroom. Make sure to attend the event, pick up your name tag, and drop your name tag back by the check-in desk as you leave. The CSRC will be using those returned name tags to select door prizes.


If you’ve been to the career fair before, you may remember a huge pile of coats and backpacks near the door. The pile of coats and backpacks constitutes a fire hazard and we must use a separate room for coat and backpack check, per Squires Student Center. CSRC coat and backpack check is located in the Williamsburg Room (around the corner from the Commonwealth Ballroom.)

We look forward to seeing you at the event!
Ms. Bradford
Libby G. Bradford
Director of External Relations and Undergraduate


[Gradstudents] Fwd: Intel On Campus February 18-19, 2013 – Flyers Attached

Eric Ragan <>
to bburg-gradstud.


Intel info session for PhD students Monday at 7:30
Free food

Lavery Hall 330


See attached flyers for more info.

———- Forwarded message ———-

Hi All,
I am attaching two flyers. One is specifically for our tech talk to PhD students and the other is our snapshot of events we will be participating in during our visit next week.


I appreciate your help in distributing these flyers out to the students.


I hope to see you next week!!

Tohbi Thomas
Campus Relations Manager
Texas A&M, UCLA, Virginia Tech
US College Team, Intel Corporation


2 attachments — Download all attachments
Spring 2013 VT LTD Tech Talk flyer students final.docx


[Gradstudents] plans of study
Manuel A Perez-Quinones <>
to gradstudents



I sent a note yesterday to students “missing” their plan of study.


Note that I got your names from a report from the university. So, if
you have turned in the plan of study in our department this semester,
then you are ok. It takes 2-3 weeks for all the approvals to navigate
the system.


No need to go bother Sharon if you already turned it in.

If however, you turned your PoS last semester or earlier and received
a note from me, then let me know.




PS those of you in my UE class can sit back and enjoy the ironies of
this mess… :)


Manuel A. Perez-Quinones, DSc

Raw Data Notes

Here is a sample of some of the raw data we collect from the interviews.

Interview with Dr. Kavanaugh

  1. Do you feel close to the CHCI community? (combine w/ Q6.)
    1. Yes, personal and professional depending on the indivuals
  2. Do you currently do anything to get to know the people in the CHCI community better?
    1. Receptions, talk with the faculty.
    2. Attending talks.
    3. Refereall from other peoples
      1. based on skills or interests
    4. no social interaction with office people
      1. DiDi – moare interaaction by staying in touch
      2. more professional with the font office
    5. students – more working directly with
      1. gatherings at her house – more casual environment
  3. What would be some ways for you to get to know people in the CHCI community better? (combine w/Q7, ask after Q7)
    1. lunch with students
      1. faculty could join
      2. no agenda – or prescribed discussion
      3. more casual settings
      4. once a month or twice
      5. based on legacy
    2. use website
      1. give more information
      2. more news and announcements
    3. visualization of faculty and students
      1. who is what lab, who si working with who
      2. papers that would be written
      3. generated from existing content
    4. affiliated faculty who are not in this building
      1. easily digestible information is key

Interview with Sharon Chu

Sharon Chu's Interview

Building the WAAD

The process of building the WAAD started with each of us creating work activity notes based on our raw contextual data, mainly the interviews. Afterwards, we came together and began to cluster our work activity notes with post-its.

We found that we had a few small clusters with about 2-5 work activity notes, and a couple of large clusters with about 7-10 work activity notes. We then attempted to label the clusters while reconfiguring where to place some work activity notes. Once this was done, we found that we had eight clusters: information sources, types of information shared within CHCI, types of information shared outside of CHCI, privacy of shared information, visualization of accessed information, filtering of accessed information, colocation and community, and where information is shared to.

These clusters were then put into groups describing an overarching fact about them. That grouping is as followed:

  • Information: information sources, types of information shared within CHCI, and types of information shared outside of CHCI
  • Sharing: privacy of shared information and where information is shared
  • Information Access: visualization of accessed information and filtering of accessed information
  • Co-location: co-location and community

Definition of Major Work Roles

These are the work roles we defined for the system:

  • CHCI students – CHCI students are graduate students who have office and/or laboratory space in the CHCI.
  • CHCI faculty – CHCI faculty is composed of professors in that have office and/or laboratory space in the CHCI.
  • CHCI administrative staff – CHCI administrative staff is composed of the staff that works in the front office in the CHCI. Some of this staff is composed of general computer science program faculty.

The entities that interact with the system from the outside are:

  • Graduate department – The graduate department is the department that oversees all graduate school activity at Virginia Tech.
  • Computer Science department – The computer science department is the department that oversees all computer science-related academic activity at Virginia Tech.
  • “Outside world” – any other external sources of information that provide information to users in the boundary of our system.

Lastly, the machine role that services the system is:

  • Listserv – the conduit of sending and receiving information to several users.