Usability Evaluation for websites and computer based instruction

Usability Evaluation for websites and computer based instruction

The following is a guide for evaluating computer based instruction and websites. It can also be used for mobile and tablet based software. This will vary based on audience and objectives. Some criteria may or may not apply to all devices or instructional media types. This is a general evaluation and should be modified for every single project. Keep in mind I developed this with training/learning in mind.

Criteria Description Scale
N/A Comments
Working memory/Cognitive load Learners can hold 5-7 concepts in their working memory at one time. Does this content ask learners to work with more at one time (per screen/topic)? Thus screens should have limited text/bullet points.
Multimedia principles Images and text (or narration) that explain for one another are better for learning and communication then just one by itself
No extra details – only what is required Extra images, text, or colors distracts
Highlight important information Use of cues or color coding for important concepts
Objectives are clear What is the point?
Content is inline with objectives Does the site do what it says?
Assessment is inline with content Is there an assessment and does it asses each objective?
Flow Introduction, content, ending
Learning strategies Are learning strategies apparent and appropriate?
Learners apply/problem solve Are the learners actually learning more than factual information?
Sources To back up claims
Is there an assessment?
Assessment measures high level knowledge Does the assessment measure more than factual information?
Is there a satisfaction survey?
Fitt’s law Buttons should be big and close enough to prevent error
Colors/fonts/layout These should be standard throughout
No busy screens/backgrounds/fonts These distract learners
Colors Should NOT be more than 2-4 colors on screen
fonts Are fonts legible
layout Grid and organized
Simple and natural dialogue Speak the users’ language – informal is better than formal for learning
User friendly layout Are there directions on using the tutorial?
Rule of thirds Does the screen utilize them?
Provide feedback Feedback for navigation
Provide clearly marked exits Get to home screen/Exit program
Provide shortcuts Breadcrumbs
Reversal of actions Can you go back?
Errors Deal with errors in positive and helpful manner
Provide help and documentation Help button/documentation
Navigation Menu, next, back, help buttons – easy to find
Load time Does it load in a few seconds?
Develop for the output technology Resolution – is the resolution look correct or pixelated?, colors look right on screen, golden ratio/rectangle (organization and layout look correct)
Video Does it play well/take a while to load?
Audio Sound/voices volume, background noise, easy to understand
File formats Are they compatible with all hardware
508 Compliance Does it meet 508? i.e. alt tags
SCORM Compliance For an LMS


What is usability?

If I had to describe HCI is one word, it would be usability. Usability refers to the ease of use for the software/hardware.

So what is usability? Usability asks if the product, webpage, etc. is effective, efficient, and user friendly. Were the goals met? Are the users satisfied? Was cognitive load reduced where possible? Error free experience? Comfortable environment?

Thus usability is extremely important when designing anything. So how do you test usability? Well there are many types of tests that can be performed from experts evals, groups, users, etc. There are also many types of guideline charts out there in the research depending on what type of material you are testing (i.e., a webpage, mobile app, control scheme, etc.).