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HCI Interaction Design Methods project

In this project, we were asked to evaluate any existing website/application where we can conduct usability studies to identify the issues that are faced by the users. So we approached DroidHomes, an Indian startup allows users to fully automate their homes appliances using their application. Client provided us with the application, its user credentials and a setup room which we could use for testing out the application any time of the day. Client was eager to get our feedback in the UX/UI that existed at the time of the research.

Duration: August - December 2017

Members: Parth Patel, Niranjan Kshirsagar, Gauri Patekar

Role: Research on the pain points that currently exist in the application by various means of user testing and usability studies and report them back to the client along with suggestions for improvement.

User Study and Research

Cognitive Walkthrough:

  • To start with the evaluation. two user personas were created along with user scenarios, and based on that, each team member performed cognitive walkthrough of four representative tasks possible in the application. 

  • Each analyst recorded successes and failures, any other critical information, recommended changes to the user interface, and opportunities for improving the user interface if needed.

  • Then, we created a matrix indicating for each action step whether each analyst considered the step a success or failure.

  • Followed by detailed description of each issue identified during the analysis and a list of recommended changes and opportunities for improvement

Think Aloud test:

  • We conducted think aloud test with two participants who were representative users of the application. We provided them with two tasks that were used for cognitive walkthrough.

  • One of our team member was the moderator while I was the note taker.

  • All the issues that users faced were gathered and compared with the cognitive walkthrough results.

Heuristic Evaluation:

  • Each team member conducted an independent review of the product to identify at least five usability issues and recorded each issue on a Usability Aspect Report.

  • Then, as a team, we aggregated the UARs to create a collection of UARs for the team and assigned a severity rating to each of them with a justification for the rating.

  • And we also discussed possible solutions for all the UARs that were aggregated.


User 1: Alex Olsen

  • Age 35

  • Software engineer working in the corporate world

  • Hectic schedule which includes different shift timings

  • Must meet many project deadlines

  • Client location  

  • Lives far away from office

  • Work performance deteriorating

User 2: Emma Smith

  • Age 46

  • Amputee due to an accident

  • Hence, Unable to walk

  • Works from home

  • Lives alone

  • Switches are hard to reach when in wheelchair

Key Findings

All the test mentioned above helped us to find out the following problems:

  • Visual appearance of certain UI elements.

  • Inconsistencies in navigation elements on different screens.

  • Issues with the alarm feature.

  • Unidentifiable mood lamp buttons.

By evaluating the problems in detail, we came up with few solutions:

  • Provide a walkthrough of the application for users logging in to the application for the first time.

  • Redesign the navigation aspect of application.

  • Provide streamlined steps to use alarms

  • Highlight buttons clearly on the mood lamp screen.

Issues Found

Users had no idea that there exists a button in the bottom right corner of every room card until they were told so.

  • Titles in the navigation drawer was not the same as that on the top of respective screens

  • Main is the primary screen, and lies in the middle of the list

  • Alarm screen says 'Timers' instead.

  • Alarm times shown are that of Indian Standard Time, despite phone being in US' Eastern Time Zone.

  • Color of 'Add' button in the bottom is same as the other elements like toggle switch.

  • There is no way to select all switches of a room.

  • Difficult for users to disable geofencing feature from this screen

  • Switches have three states, ON, OFF, IGNORED. Users were confused on this screen while setting the alarm.

Issue with navigation:

Issue with alarm:

  • As seen in the video to the right, there is inconsistency in the navigation elements that are shown in screens.

    • While 'main' and 'alarm' screen have a hamburger icon to the top right,

    • 'Geofencing' screen has a close (X) button

    • 'Edit switches' has a back  (<) button

    • Whereas 'mood lamp' doesn't have a navigation button at all.

  • Another issue we found is that users cannot get into other screens from any screen except for the 'main' screen. During the think aloud tests, every user complained about not able to switch screens using the navigation drawer when not in the main screen.

  • As seen in the video to the right, the screen title says 'Timers' whereas the name given to the feature in navigation drawer is 'Alarms'.

  • Another issue shown is that users are given an overview of the days on which the alarm is going to get repeated in the future.

  • Then, the add button has the same blue color as rest of the screen making it difficult to spot when all of the screen is filled up with alarms.

  • Also, the three states of switches makes it hard for users to distinguish between the OFF and DISABLED states as they look identical and also have the same color.

  • Finally, after confirming to set the alarm, it gets set in the end of the list, making users to find the alarm that they just set incase an edit or deletion is required.

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