Quasi-Usability Essay Peer Review Group 1

This is where Peer Review Group 1 will share your links to your short essays about your experiences with the quasi-usability testing of the English department web site. Just post a link to the page on your wordpress site to share with others here.

Group 1 is: Scott B., Jaclyn Y., Louise B., Renee G., Amanda D.

30 Responses to Quasi-Usability Essay Peer Review Group 1

    • Jaclyn Y says:

      Hi, Scott!

      I love what you have here! Separating your topics into different sections was a great idea. I also like how well balanced the essay is. It makes the essay easy to read.

      As far as content is concerned, I think that you have everything that seems to be asked for in our “assignment sheet.”
      I really only have a couple of questions on tiny things in your essay that would really be for my own benefit:

      — I noticed that the titles of the two books were in quotation marks. I always thought that book titles are italics?

      — “My participation in the usability tests on the department site were influenced by both Krug and Redish’s books.” this sounded kind of funky to me? I think I’m thrown off because the subject is “participation” and the verb is “were.” I’m not sure if that sounds weird to anyone else, but it sounds kind of off to me?

      I could be totally off-the-mark on both of these nit-picky things. I just noticed that they seemed different.

      Thanks for sharing your essay with me!

    • LouiseWrites says:


      I like how you introduced the topic and separated the project into parts. This made it very simple for reader to separate their own ideas to see how they correlate with yours. Also your hat analogy is a really good example!

      In your “Influencing Perspectives” section, I think you would have benefited from including a few examples or comments about why you believe the site needed more usability trials, and what concerned you most about that way the site looked. What needed most attention in your opinion: The color scheme? Text size? etc…

      Within “Usability Scenarios”, I agree with you about the need to have information available mostly on the page before resorting to the contact information. However, I do believe that the contact info on the bottom of the page is most helpful for me because the most infuriating this aside from not finding information I want on a page is not finding information about who I can contact for that information.

      Overall, I enjoyed your well thought-out essay.

    • aderengo says:


      I thought your report was great! I think the flow is good, and I didn’t see any grammatical errors. Your set up of the sections was great, and made it an easy read.

      I like how you introduced the paper, especially with mentioning that we wore two hats during the process. I think that fact was important to mention.

      Your section on visual cues was great, and I liked the quote you used there from Krug. I wonder if you should add a comment on how you think the site could be improved visually. Is there something specific that you suggest? What did you feel was missing based on the readings we have done? Also maybe mention why you think that the current visual cues are a weakness for the EMU website?

      I hope this helps!

    • ReneeG says:


      First off, I really like what you have so far overall. I think you are well on your way to a having a great essay. I really like how you have it divided into different sections. It really helped with the organization and flow.

      I think that you did a really good job of referring to our readings and meeting the criteria for the assignment. All I can really suggest is to maybe expand even just a little further! But honestly, what you have is already really great. A few small things that the others have already mentioned in their reviews, but overall everything looks pretty good!

      Everything was very well thought out, and I enjoyed reading it.

    • Scott says:


      Your comparison of conducting frequent usability tests to editing papers in the writing center is an effective metaphor for me. (Should Writing Center be capitalized since it is a specific place?) The idea of drafting and getting feedback on the website/essay throughout the design/writing process is nice and easily understood. Bringing yourself and your job into the essay works.

      Your beginning paragraph almost sounds like a conclusion to your essay. I like how you suggest the department should do usability tests, so keep the text but I think moving it farther down in the essay would help. Perhaps begin with a description of what a usability test is would let the audience know more about the purpose of this essay.

      I’m just being nit-picky in these spots.
      – Third paragraph, second sentence in: Who is “we”? It might help if you describe who “we” is before you introduce them.
      – Consider adding the titles of Redish’s and Krug’s books to the text.
      – I would suggest possibly adding in a few quotes from Redish and Krug. You do a great job of explaining some of their ideas.
      – 7th paragraph: I don’t think you need a quote, but cite a page number in parenthesis. Consider adding page numbers in other sections where you explain or summarize each author’s’ ideas.
      – Near the end, the text font family changes. I’m not sure if that is on purpose or by accident, but consider changing all text to same font.

      Altogether I think you have a great start with this essay. I hope my suggests help you as you progress.

      • Jaclyn Y says:

        Thanks for the great feedback!

      • Jaclyn Y says:

        One thing I was not sure about was if I’m going off-topic when I started talking about the flaws in usability testing.

        I feel like I am going off on a tangent when I talk about making people feel comfortable in the University Writing Center, but maybe I’m not?

        Thanks for your help.

        • Scott says:

          You could shorten or condense that part. It sounds like an important connection between the Writing Center and usability testing.

          • Scott says:

            But if you do maybe draw a connection with when Krug talks about snacks and making people feel comfortable and willing to give feedback.

    • LouiseWrites says:


      I like your comparison between the writing center and the usability testing environment. It made me consider how my environment at home may have affected how I took the test. You mentioned how a testing environment might be somewhat daunting to the effect that the tester is more close-lipped and has less to offer due to the cold setting. In my case, taking the usability test at home on my kitchen table as I rush to do a list of things throughout my day probably wasn’t the most effective way for me to take the test either. Taking the test again I’d probably try to induce a stress free environment while still keeping my laid back approach. I’d like to hear ideas about an in-between.

      Overall, I liked your ideas. The only thing I would suggest would be to have all of the text in bold because the paragraph that wasn’t bold was somewhat of a strain to the eye. Maybe try to italicize?

    • aderengo says:


      I really liked how you compared the website to the writing center on campus. That helped put the project of the website into a different light and perspective for me. It definitely is true, because just like a paper websites need to go through revisions to be the best it can be for its users.

      I think talking about one of the scenarios would be important to add. It would add to your idea of treating a website like a paper and needing to look for different places to revise. What scenario did you think was the hardest, and why?

      I also saw that in your 5th paragraph, the second sentence, the beginning word “users” needs to be capitalized. You have two different font families and it was a bit distracting. I would suggest having it all the same.

      I hope this helps!

    • ReneeG says:


      I really enjoyed reading this. Having done usability testing with you before, I related to a lot what you were saying!

      I really liked your comparison of usability testing to the writing center. I think that that really helped put things into perspective. I felt that it was also a great personal touch for you to corporate into your essay.

      One thing I would suggest is to add in how you felt while doing the scenarios from the survey. I think they would be good points to add and could be beneficial for your essay.

      Overall, I think that you are off to a really good start and I enjoyed reading it!

    • Jaclyn Y says:

      Hi Renee!

      You have a good start here. I think it was a great idea to have your sister walk through the website. You were probably right when you said that it was easy for some of us because we are so used to the format of the website.

      It could be interesting to expand on the distinction between having an unbiased tester and having a biased tester. I think that is an interesting point you make, and I am left wondering more about how the dynamic changes when we have different testers.

      It could also be beneficial to connect the results of the survey to your ideas about design. I agree with you when you said that one of the most important things to consider when building a website is design. I wonder what Ginny would suggest to the English Department to build a better website. I also wonder what your suggestions are?

      It’s a great start. It is cool because you have a lot of options for this paper’s direction. I’m sure other people will have other suggestions too.


    • Scott says:


      You have great content here. Very promising. I agree with Jacklyn that the dynamic between an experienced and inexperienced user is interesting. I think maybe pulling more from your sister’s experience versus yours could be a main focus of your essay.

      Here is my nit-picky-ness:
      – Second to last paragraph: What are some of the aspects that help improve the site? Color, headings, font? What do the authors say about these things and what is your opinion?

      – Very last sentence: “rather than being the one conducting the test.” Why do you feel that way? I think you can develop more content around this idea. Discussing whatever it was for you that was challenging can help you move into more of the content from Krug and Redish. You have some good things working with Redish’s quotes. Consider adding more content from Krug

      – The list after the eighth paragraph, is this a direct quote from Redish. If so, consider either citing or rephrasing her ideas and citing where your summary came from.

      – I’m not sure the quotation marks for user and re-dos are necessary. Consider leaving them off.

      Great start. I think you have a distinct voice and opinion throughout your essay. Honing in on those aspects that create your personal usability testing experience can really polish your essay.

    • aderengo says:


      I really like what you have so far. I liked how you pointed out that since you use EMU webpages so much you have grown comfortable with them. Having your sister run through the scenario was a great idea because it showed the differences between being comfortable and not knowing the website at all. I agree with what everyone else is saying and looking more into the experienced versus inexperienced users.

      I think that some paragraphs are spaced differently with the line spacing. It was kind of distracting, but it could also be the way that my computer loaded it.

      I hope this helps!

    • LouiseWrites says:


      It’s good that you were able to stress the importance of the usability project but I would have liked more if you had some specifics to stress, such as what exactly gave you problems. You listed a few questions toward the end of your page, and I would like for you to expand on that. Did you find the different sites appealing? How exactly did you navigate the site? Fleshing out details like this would strengthen your argument.

    • Scott says:


      I think you have good bones here. You have well written ideas. Still, you need to add more meat to the bones. More content, specific examples will help the reader understand more of your perspective throughout the process: how you overcame your initial struggles, perhaps what you found surprisingly easy, what happened when you retook the poll, how did your answers change when you focused on the little things on the site, etc. All of this will help you hone in on the importance of usability testing.

      Second paragraph:
      Cite specific examples from Krug and Redish, either quotes or summaries of their ideas. How do these aspects of a site draw in the reader’s attention?

      Final paragraph:
      Consider adding in some of what Krug and Redish discuss in their books. And then give your perspective of understanding that information. I don’t think it’s possible to talk about everything. So it might be better to focus on a few things you noticed and expand on them.

      Definitely keep everything you have. These are just some of my suggestions to help add more to your essay. If you have any questions about what I’ve said here let me know. Great start!

    • aderengo says:


      I think you are off to a great start for the report. There are definitely places where you can add more information. I think hearing that you felt you had general comments originally was interesting. Why did you feel that? Was it from something you had read in one of the books? I’m also curious if your answers changed once you started retaking the poll.

      I’d like to hear about the scenario that you found to be the hardest, and why. I think it will also help with drawing connections from the two books.

      I hope this helps!

    • ReneeG says:


      I like that you made the point of stating how you are so comfortable with the EMU website that it was difficult for you to truly test the scenarios from the survey. I think that was a very important thing to mention, and is definitely something that I relate to.

      I think that you have a good foundation and just need to add more to it. Expand on your ideas, reference more of the readings, etc. But overall, good start!

    • Scott says:


      You have a nice start here. I think you have some great ideas working throughout the essay. I think what you could most benefit from is going over what you have written two, three, maybe four times. Perhaps read over all of what you have written to make sure there is a smoothness to the sentences, a flow that allows the reader to easily move through your ideas and insight. Also think about tense. When referencing people, choose whether to use second person (you) or third person (he/she) throughout the entire essay. Personally, third person may work better. But you will still use first person (“I”).

      Some specifics:
      -Think about rephrasing the third sentence in the first paragraph. There is somewhat awkward phrasing that makes the sentence difficult to read, though I get your meaning.

      – Second paragraph, second to last sentence: What does “typically” mean? “Typically” to one person may mean something completely different to another person when it comes to websites. Consider talking about the characteristics that make the website approachable to a certain audience (ie potential or current students).

      – Third paragraph, second sentence: “then majors then” doesn’t allow for ease of flow through the sentence. Consider revising.

      – Third paragraph, last sentence: First “and” change to “an”, make “job” plural, and I’m wondering what “it” signifies. But this section makes a great point about consistency throughout the website pages.

      You neatly reference Krug and Redish throughout the middle parts of the essay. It’s very effective when you explain the relationship between the author’s’ thoughts and your insight about usability testing. Good start throughout. Mostly focus on flow of the essay so your main points are the focus of what is going on here.

      • aderengo says:

        Thanks for the great feedback! The flow and tense of the report was something that I noticed when I read it again two days later, and is being worked on right now.

    • LouiseWrites says:

      I like how you referenced the class readings throughout, something I know I definitely should make an effort in including next time. I also liked that you included a comment comparing the graduate and undergraduate program based on the website. However, I wish that you included some details to back up this claim, such as what exactly was appealing in the undergraduate page that was lacking in the graduate page.

      The only suggestion I can think of is rearranging your quotes so they don’t seem to be plopped down, but instead maybe place them before your evidence as a way to introduce the next topic you are going to tackle. That way, you will make a claim, and then directly defend it.

      Overall this was very easy to read and I got the feeling of where exactly your frustrations lie with the website, which align with my frustrations as well.

    • ReneeG says:


      I like how you set this essay up. I like how you explained the readings we had done in class and how they related to what you were going to be discussing throughout the paper. You did a really good job of referencing the readings throughout basically your entire essay.

      I felt that your essay was pretty easy to read and that it had a nice flow to it. I think you are off to a great start and I really enjoyed reading it!

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