Gateways help solve the mysteries of the universe. For example, Galaxy Zoo enlisted non-scientists to help categorize astronomical images, whereas LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) captures signals from distant universes. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Usability consulting services with our faculty-supervised interns can make your gateway satisfying for your users

Why might I want usability evaluation services from SGCI?

Usability (or User Experience) consultants make sure that everything on your gateway is easy to find, understand, and use. The best gateways optimize their design and functionality based on the needs, requirements, and expectations of the gateway’s community.

Getting a thorough usability evaluation of a gateway can be time-consuming and expensive and requires expertise and an outsider perspective. SGCI offers usability evaluations and high-level guidance on enhancing the user experience of your gateway, provided by graduate students specializing in user experience design at Purdue University.

What will I get from a usability evaluation?

Each gateway is unique, and the specific methods and outcomes will vary from project to project. However, there is a suite of commonly used methods, and you can expect to receive reports based on a mix of the following:

  • Primary research in the form of interviews, observations, and/or surveys with representative users of your gateway

  • Secondary research in the form of data gathering and literature reviews

  • Expert evaluation of your gateway based on established design heuristics and/or usability guidelines

  • Usability testing on your gateway with representative users

  • Competitive analysis of similar products

  • And various other methods for understanding your users and identifying improvements for your gateway

Based on data gathered through these methods, you will receive feedback on gateway elements such as:

  • Visual design and layout

  • User interaction and navigation

  • Information organization and architecture

  • Design of specific features and functions

  • User community requirements

  • Accessibility

What makes a good project?

Usability consultants can evaluate and provide guidance on gateways at many stages of development—from early prototypes to mature products. The following are some examples of gateways that could benefit from usability consulting:

  • Any gateway that has been launched to the public or is freely downloadable

  • Password-protected websites or pre-launch/alpha/beta products are possible candidates as long as adequate access can be provided

  • Gateways that are undergoing active development, but have a stable release ready are also accepted, provided that the functionality is reasonably complete by the beginning of the internship.

  • If you are in the early stages of designing your gateway, user experience methods could help you get started on the right foot by identifying the needs, expectations, best designs, or workflows of your user community.

What do we need to do besides give basic access to the gateway?

To give you useful information, consultants need access to representative users for testing, surveys, and the like. Ideally, these would be your gateway’s actual users, but where that's impractical, realistic proxies and/or prospective users are needed. You will be responsible for recruiting users or providing access to user contact information, particularly in cases where the potential users are from a unique demographic or very specific domain area.

Consultants will also need regular access to you and your gateway team to best understand your needs, goals, and overall vision for your gateway.

If you have questions about whether your gateway is appropriate, don't hesitate to ask!

About working with our consultants

SGCI usability consultants come from the User Experience (UX) Design program at Purdue University. Purdue’s UX program provides rigorous user experience training to students interested in human-computer interaction and design.

The SGCI Incubator offers usability internships to multiple students each year, with evaluations typically starting in September, January, and May. Consultants will collaborate to provide valuable recommendations for your gateway (assuming you have the capacity to implement them, of course!). Consultants are supervised by Dr. Paul Parsons, Assistant Professor in Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University.

About Purdue’s User Experience (UX) Design Program

Purdue University offers majors in User Experience (UX) Design at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs are housed in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The UX undergraduate major, a ground-breaking program that is the first of its kind in the nation, began admitting students in 2015. It provides an integrated student experience designed around studio-based hands-on learning. The graduate UX program is part of the M.S. program in Computer Graphics Technology and is nationally ranked as a top-5 "best-value in UX Design" program in the U.S.

 

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