Quasi-Usability Essay Peer Review Group 3

This is where Peer Review Group 3 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 3 is: Rachel N., Deb B., Jeffrey M., Hania M., Kyle A.

19 Responses to Quasi-Usability Essay Peer Review Group 3

    • Debra says:

      Your first paragraph is a great overview of the project, succinct yet complete. When discussing the home page, you make an excellent connection to Krug’s “don’t make me think.” You described the situation for the user perfectly, and this is a point that I will refer back to in the future.

      Your descriptions of the three scenarios and your experience was good and flowed really well. It was all very easy to read, but included a good amount of detail.

      I believe you quoted Krug without including the title of the book. The only other suggestion I have is that perhaps your closing paragraph could use one more sentence to help the reader ease into their final thoughts. With just one sentence, it felt just a little abrupt. All in all, I think it’s a really strong piece of writing!

    • jmoss9 says:

      First, thank you for you thorough review of my essay.

      You already pointed out how our essays were similar and different, and I found the same to be true so there’s no need to repeat that.

      I found your opening paragraph to be particularly strong. When you mentioned the results of the survey showed that the English Department web site “seemed to average a passing grade percentage-wise,” I expected that your take was going to be that the site was adequate. Instead showing that a passing grade is not good enough was a strong position to take and gave a clear direction that the remainder of the essay would follow.

      Your essay’s connections to the class readings were very well done. I found your references to Redish and the connections to the web site to be accurate and well thought out. Perhaps you could expand on your mention of Krug’s “don’t make me think” mantra. You are dead on when you talk about the onus being on the reader to figure things out, but it can further cement your argument if you were to show exactly what you mean by saying the statement partially violates Krug’s concept. It would also make it clear to someone who hasn’t read the book.

      Mechanically, I found the essay to be very well written. I have only a few bits of advice to give to improve it. First, the text changes direction abruptly when you move along to describing the second and third scenarios the survey takers simulated during the usability tests. If you could add a transition sentence or two to end/beginning of those paragraphs, it could create a smoother flow and allow the reader to ease into the new topic.

      The second paragraph is quite lengthy and may add clarity overall if it is broken up into 2 or 3 paragraphs.

      Also, in the final paragraph maybe you should write a summary of how your suggestions would improve the web site so the essay does not end so abruptly.

      You probably already caught this, but in the second to last paragraph you repeat the word the: “…and the the Journal of Narrative Theory Editorial Assistant…”

      Overall, the essay was very well done.

      • rachel says:

        Geez, no actually I didn’t know that I repeated a line in the second to last paragraph. Not sure when it jumped in there. I can be one of the worst offenders when it comes to not re-reading through my work.

    • haniam1315 says:

      This essay was very thorough, and a deep analysis of every detail on the website. I think it was very well thought out, and you can tell you really put a lot into it. Each paragraph had a good explanation of the scenarios, and it was really nice to see examples as well.

      I like that you explained each scenario with a complete analysis of all the pros and cons, along with an example as to what would have been a better option, or how it should have been set up. Each one was organized, with proper references to the books as well.

      The only thing that might is to make a bit more of a flow between the paragraphs. There were some rather abrupt shifts, and I think it would be a bit of an easier read if they transitioned. The scenario paragraphs were okay, but the beginning and conclusion could fit together a little better.

      Overall, this is very well written and thought out, and I appreciate the thorough analysis. Good work!

    • Debra says:

      It was interesting how you connected a real-life experience to the usability testing we did. I think the points you made were very strong, and you used quotes from both Krug and Redish in a way that supported your points.

      I agree with you that there really is a lot of good information on the site, but it could use more visuals. I like how you quoted Redish’s point that illustrations need to have a purpose, which would be important for this site.

      I noticed a few very minor things. Your first mention of Redish doesn’t include the book title, and the sentence in paragraph eight that starts with “And then expanding” probably needs a verb. Overall, great job!

  1. rachel says:

    Comments for Deb B.

    One of the ways our essays were similar was that we gave a brief explanation of what each scenario consisted of and then talked about how our own experience usability experience. We differed in how we presented that information. You opted for putting the scenario info in headings, while I ended up putting the information at the beginning of each paragraph in the body of the essay. We also differed in how we incorporated our own usability experience with the rest of the essay. You opted to have your usability experiences be in their own sections separate from the other survey results and the connections to the readings, while my essay tended to incorporate all three together in sections separated for each scenario.

    One of the connections you make to the readings is how Redish’s concept of the “marketing moment” ties into how the lengthy page you found on careers from the site could be redesigned with the idea of how to market those careers to students.

    One of the passages I have a question about is where you are talking about your experience looking for financial aid resources for graduate students. You say at one point “I was able to find a list of master’s degrees, specific information about GAships and salary and benefits, and scholarships, but nothing about financial aid.” Your wording here implies that graduate assistantships and scholarships are not financial aid. Did you mean to say that the English Dept website didn’t use the words “financial aid” that would clue in a graduate student who was looking for those words in particular, or did you mean that the English Dept website might be served well to have a link that goes to the EMU’s financial aid website to supplement the info they have already?

    One mechanical thing I would mention is that your essay is formatted somewhat like a blog post than in a traditional essay format. The result at times was that some of your information (such as your experiences, your summary of you perceived of the website, and the survey responses) were a bit more spread out from each other than they otherwise might have been.

    • Debra says:

      Thanks for your comments! For some reason, I seem to remember in a recent writing class that using section headings was good for helping the reader understand what was coming up next. It will be interesting to see if we see any other essays where they are used.

      In your essay, I very much liked how you combined the testing, group comments and quotes all into one well-written smooth flow. I will take a fresh look at my draft to see if I can improve the flow by re-working my approach, and also tighten up my points a little.

      Your thoughts about financial aid is interesting. I know that the term financial aid includes loans, GAships and scholarships, but I was thinking of it in context of loans since the website didn’t mention that piece. Since the site does such a good job listing information about GAships and scholarships, it would be easy to add a third link to the financial aid website where the information about loans resides. I’ll take a look at that area and add some clarity.

    • jmoss9 says:


      Firstly, thank you for your review of my essay.

      Next, the biggest thing that jumped out at me was the headings and bullet points used made this seem more like a formal report or briefing than an essay. For me, it didn’t read like an essay because the headings impeded the flow. That is merely my experience, I don’t proclaim to know if this is “right or wrong” or necessarily something you should change, but just my experience.

      Your observations of what is working and what needs improving are well done. I found myself agreeing with your ideas. When you get to the “initial impression” section you should consider making some reference to the class readings to bolster your arguments. Your first reference to Redish comes nearly half way through the essay and that feels too late to me.

      Similarly, in the “Initial Impression,” “Wealth of Information,” “Other Stuff” and “Good Foundation” sections there are no references to the reading. Your points are valid, but they will become concrete if you can tie them in to the class reading.

      In the areas you do reference Redish (“Website Users” and “Creative Content”) you do a great job. Having more of these references will keep it from sounding like you are just stating your opinion.

      Also, I don’t want to harp on the format, but I felt like when you mention Scenario #1 and Scenario #3 in the middle of the essay I had to refer back to your description of them at the beginning. Perhaps the information you present would be better suited to be in the same section as what you describe while conducting the scenarios in the usability test.

      Overall, your essay is effective in that you present a lot of fantastic ideas to improve the English Department web site. Well done.

      • Debra says:

        Thanks for your suggestions! Since both you and Rachel made the same suggestion about my subheads, I have re-worked my draft into a more traditional essay form. I’ve also worked in quotes from both Krug and Redish.

        And that’s why the first version is called a “draft” :))

  2. rachel says:

    Comments for Jeffrey M.

    One of the things our essays had in common was how we referenced Redish more than Krug, although we pulled different Redish quotes for our essays. One of the things our essays did differently was that yours summarized the strengths and weaknesses of the website based off of the usability test, while mine described the scenarios of the usability test before going into the specific experiences for each.

    One of the connections you make to the readings is Redish’s assertion that users of websites want information that answers a question, helps them complete a task, is easy to find and easy to understand, is accurate, up to date, and credible. You tie in this aspect of Redish with how key elements of the English Dept’s website, such as the information on financial aid, would serve the users better if it was easier for the users to find it quicker. It also gives a nod to the outdated content items on the website that need to be removed or updated to have the users view the website as accurate, up to date, and credible.

    While nothing in your passages necessarily confused me, I am wondering if the final draft of your essay will incorporate a more formal introduction that goes over the usability test setup a little more, or if you were going for a more informal introduction?

    One mechanical thing I would mention is that, when making in-text citations for Redish, be sure to introduce Redish and the title of the book your corresponding quote will be from the first time you include a citation from Redish in your essay. Within the community of our course, everyone will know who and what you’re referring to when you cite, but it’s good to write as if the reader isn’t as versed in the subject.

  3. haniam1315 says:

    Here’s the link to my draft:


    Also, sorry for the delay (I was out of town and was promised wifi, but didn’t get it).


    • rachel says:

      Both of us touched on/specifically mentioned each of the three scenarios in our essays. Where we differed in that seemed to be how much detail we went into for what each scenario consisted of.

      A connection you made to Redish was her section on content strategy, and connecting how content is designed to how efficiently people can find what they need.

      As for passages that might be potentially confusing, the first sentences of the second and third scenario paragraphs don’t really specifically go into what the tasks of those scenarios were like you did for the first scenario. Someone who didn’t personally do the usability test survey (or didn’t have it still fresh in their mind) might have trouble knowing exactly what you’re referring to.

      In the third paragraph, where you mention how it doesn’t make sense that some programs have much more detailed explanations of courses and others simply have links to the course search page, this could be a good place to incorporate a connection to Redish’s assertion about consistency on page 54 of Letting Go of the Words.

  4. Debra says:

    I agree with you that breaking up some of the long sections into smaller chunks would help. It might be good to come up with one or two other suggestions that would help solve the problems you experienced, and then connect those to more quotes from Krug and Redish.

    Overall, I think your synopsis was good. You might want to double-check the proper way to cite the two authors. (I need to do that myself – not 100% I have it right!)

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