Monday, 13 February 2012

eRaUI meeting - 6th Feb 2012

Today all members of the eRaUI team met up to discuss progress, with a particular emphasis on work package 3 and work package 4 deliverables. In this meeting we concentrated primarily on the importance of usability within eRaUI. We have decided that enhancing usability within eRaUI is our top priority, and we intend to approach this by making use of the fresh perspectives gleaned from the recent JISC meeting in Birmingham. Yanguo and Sahithi (eRaUI project members) are both experts in usability and are able to apply their expertise to ensure that eRaUI encapsulates the essential principles required to facilitate usability.

One of the key approaches to enhancing usability will be via testing, which we intend to carry out as part of our work package 4 deliverables. We require a scanrio for testing, and will need to consider some different use cases for which we can test eRaUI effectively. In accordance with Sahithi's suggestion, we intend to create an experimental and control task, the latter for instance being conducted on the the NaCTeM website while the former is conducted using the eRaUI widget deployed upon the NaCTeM widget. By measuring the times taken to achieve a set task upon both versions of NaCTeM, we are able to measure benchmarks for usability and verify that our goals are being achieved.

We are also considering the idea of adding some new features to the widget interface of eRaUI which are specifically intended to enhance usability and acceessibility. For instance, this could take the form of a feature to address accessibility for people who are visually impaired. We are also keen to enhance existing features in such a way as to ensure that usability is maximized.

Monday, 23 January 2012

WP2 Meeting - 16th January 2012

Eamonn and Farhi met on 16th January 2012 to discuss WP2 progress within eRaUI. We can now see that we have achieved most of the goals which were enumerated in December. These are:

1) Set up of the web server - this has now been arranged although the migration is yet to take place.

2) Generation of heatmaps on the server side - this has now been achieved with the help of ACA systems software. Server side heatmap generation is better because it is more consistent across browsers, and far faster and more accurate than client-side rendering.

3) Thumbnail previews - these have been implemented also - with the help of ACA software. We have furthermore introduced interactive window panes.

Points 4 and 5 have also been achieved by means of introducing interactive window panes and previews.

We furthermore require and adminstrator-based synonym ontology, which will assist in the linking of Window Panes.

The current priority is to produce an introductory commented video of eRaUI in action, to demonstrate at the forthcoming JISC conference in Birmingham.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Work Package 3 - Scenarios for use of the eRaUI widget with Screenshots

As part of our work package 3 planning and deliverables we have draughted some scenarios which indicate ways in which certain user groups would interact with a website upon which eRaUI is embedded in certain ways. These scenarios can be seen here:

Work Package 4 Testing - Analysis

On 28th November we were able to use the help of 4 MSc computing students in order to help us with testing the current eRaUI prototype and gaining an insight into the efficacy of the navigational mechanisms and features which have thus far been implemented. While the testing generated quite a large volume of data - here are some of the key insights which have been gleaned from analysing this data:

  • Testers were 22.5% more likely to complete tasks within the specified 3min time frame when using the widget as opposed to using the version of the website without the widget. This would suggest that eRaUI is an effective aid in helping users to complete the tasks set out.

  • Some testers found that there were problems with certain features, particularly the free text search box and the live chat box.

  • Testers unanimously found the suggestion links to be a very helpful feature in terms of guiding them to the content or tools required to complete the tasks set out.

Work Package 2 Meeting - Wed 14th Dec 2011

On Wednesday 14th December 2011 Eamonn and Farhi met to discuss work package 2 deliverables, progress and targets. We discussed the following points:

  • 1 - Assimilation of current eRaUI systems with the university server. This has been partially completed, however problems remain due to the fact that the server has to be able to run certain custom softwares and functions which are not available / practicable on a server which is also used as a shared PHP hosting environment. We may need to consider utilising a dedicated or virtual Windows machine in order to facilitate the transfer of eRaUI to the university's equipment.

  • 2- Utilisation of ACA software. In order to generate heatmaps on the server side as jpg images (rather than the previous client-side rendering via javascript) it has been agreed that we shall have to purchase a copy of ACA Web ActiveX. Generating heatmaps as complete images on the server offers several advantages over client side generation.
  • 3- Implementation of Window Panes for presenting users with information. This has been partially implemented - previews of links are now generated and relayed to the user within boxes, making it simple for them to determine the nature of content before they click through to it.
  • 4- Further development of Window Panes - we would like to develop Window Panes further in such a way that users are presented with information related to search terms entered (matched via synonym ontology) and the related links are presented in a series of window panes which are then navigable in a way which is analogous to the mechanism of a typical windows-based operating system (e.g. panes can be closed, moved and resized).
  • 5- We also agreed that the search box needs to allow for the entry of free search text.

eRaUI User Scenarios

In designing, testing and developing eRaUI it is essential to consider certain use-case scenarios for interaction with eRaUI. There are two broad categories of scenario; that of website-visitor interaction and that of website-administrator interaction. The following screenshots encapsulate certain aspects of possible use-case scenarios for eRaUI.

First scenario - a user requires information from the NaCTeM website upon which we have embedded the eRaUI widget. The first screen presented to the user will be similar to the one below:

In this scenario, there is initially very little information available to eRaUI allowing the widget to configure itself to this particular user. However as the user continues to interact with the NaCTeM website, it is able to adapt certain aspects of the website to fit the perceived requirements of the user. For example:

In this screenshot, we can see that the user has been identified as a novice user, and certain menu options have been intelligently coloured in yellow so as to make them more visible. This reflects the fact that these options are more likely to be relevant to a novice user. Links which are unlikely to be relevant have been greyed out, and other aspects of the eRaUI widget have adapted to this perception of user type. In the screenshot below, we can see that the user has interacted with the search facility:

Auto-suggestion is used to present the user with links that are likely to be relevant given their perceived user-category. Furthermore, if the user hovers over a particular link on the eRaUI widget, then they are presented with a miniature preview of the content which they can view before navigating to the link:

The user can also interact with a live administrator using the 'live help' box. An example of this scenario is shown below:

There may be a scenario where a user is incorrectly identified as beloning to a particular user-category. In this case, the user can change their user category - for instance to 'Expert'. An example of such a change is indicated in the screenshot below:

The above scenarios indicate the interaction for a use-case where a user visits the NaCTeM website and interacts with the eRaUI widget and the interface which has been adapted by the widget. Another scenarios is that of a website owner who wishes to deploy eRaUI on his/her own website for the purposes of enabling users to find content more easily, or to facilitate the gatering of analytics in the form of heatmaps and recordings. An example of an administrator-interface recordings page is show below:

The user may also wish to view heatmaps indicating mouse interaction with the website upon which eRaUI is embedded. An example of such a scenario is shown in the heatmap below:

There are other possible use-cases which could arise for eRaUI, however those mentioned above give a broad idea of the possible ways in which users can interact with the software.

Friday, 2 December 2011

WP 2 Meeting - December 2nd 2011

On the 2nd December 2011 Farhi and Eamonn met to discuss progress within Work Package 2 and to discuss targets which have been achieved as well as set milestones for the upcoming weeks.

First of all, here are WP2 Work package deliverables which have been achieved already:

  1. Implementation of the eRaUI widget (Portable Content Search Widget) in such a way that it is portable and deployable upon any web application or interface. The widget enables content search which intelligently adapts to the content of the interface on which it is deployed.
  2. Implementation of click / mouse movement heat maps which provide rich analytics based upon users' interaction with the interface upon which eRaUI is deployed.
  3. Implementation of user Ontology, a catalogue of keywords and strings which are matched to weightings that indicate their relevance to the various user categories defined for the interface. The nearest neighbour algorithm is used in conjunction with this to determine the categories of new users.
  4. Text Mining which filters user selection from the e-Research tool services has been implemented at the point of data collection, which occurs in real-time.
  5. Implementation of the Machine Learning-Nearest Neighbour- algorithms within eRaUI - so as to match users' patterns of behaviour to categories as defined in the site category meta-dictionary.

The following WP2 deliverables have yet to be achieved; they have been enumerated below along with their respective deadlines:

  1. Breadth Search - featuring the use of window panes so as to allow users to preview other relevant e-Research tool services related to those he / she searched for. We intend to implement this before the middle of January 2012.
  2. Workflow Capabilities - We intend to implement a means by which we can guide users between content using workflow-based logic. We aim to have this completed by the middle of January 2012.

We also discussed the possibility of implementing a separate meta-explorer interface which would be separate from the eRaUI widget and based upon the data collected within the analytics and text-mining components of the software.