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.

Introduction

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.

 Method

Participants

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.

Tasks

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:

Kioske

  • 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.

Results

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

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