Since the early eighties, four areas of software design research have emerged from the literature: User-centered, scenario-based, participatory, and usability. The user-centered approach places the design focus on the end user rather than on the technological aspects of system artifacts (Norman & Draper, 1986); scenario-based design provides initial user requirements for system design, as well as the system development lifecycle (Holbrook, 1990; Carroll and Rosson, 1991); participatory design includes users throughout many aspects of the design process (Kyng, 1991, Kyng, 1995; Muller, M.J., Tudor, L.G., Wildman, D.M., White, E.A., Root, R.A., Dayton, T., Carr, R., Diekmann, B., and Dystra-Erickson, E., 1995); and, the empirical usability design utilizes an evaluation technique, which is said to be the most effective testing method. However, it is expensive because it requires working prototypes.
Without user participation, designers often only speculate about the system's interface design. Ultimately, scenario-based design includes user participation in the design process (Nielsen, 1993) and is believed to increase interface success through valuable user insight. Based on these positive advantages of scenario-based design, this study will consist of scenarios that will form the foundation for the design rationale and redesign of a system's interface.
By incorporating usability testing and scenario generation techniques into the formative evaluation process, serious interface problems that surface can be remedied prior to system implementation. The usability testing will identify the site's strengths and weaknesses in the following areas: Interface design, navigation, successful completion of tasks, common errors, and user evaluation on usability and aesthetics of the site. Student tasks should be enhanced through clear, routine navigation and easy resource retrieval. Preliminary findings of the usability testing and the scenario evaluations will reveal strengths and weaknesses in the interface design and direct the redesign rationale considerations.
World wide web technologies provide tools for the communication of information. Navigation design is imperative to the usability of any system. One important aspect of navigation is that it simplifies the site by making everything fit into as few pages of content as possible and still provide a simple scheme. Content, clarity and presentation are extremely important, when rethinking the organizational structures of the web site, since all of these hinge on navigation. The following is a metaphor for navigation. Imagine you are going to use an elevator. How do you get on the elevator? How do you get off of the elevator? How do you know when you have left the building? How do you get back in the building? How do you know where you are? What floor are you on? Where do you want to go? Once you're there, how do you get back? These are physical examples of a navigational problem.
Clearly structured sites guide the user from page to page through the use of simple, consistent, clear navigation tools. This seems obvious, but the World Wide Web is littered with sites that contain poor navigation tools. How many sites change the look and feel of navigation throughout the site? The users are never ...