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This is an individual assignment that builds upon our discussions of usability and user-centered design, and the difficulties that designers have looking at things from the users’ perspective. It provides an opportunity for you, as an expert user of a particular website, to assess that site’s interface through the eyes of a novice user.
Select a (publicly available) web site that you use fairly often and know well. The actual site doesn’t matter, as long as it consists of several pages so you can observe potential navigation problems.
Find someone (a friend, roommate, relative, etc.) who has never seen or used this site before. Ask this person to explore the site while you observe their activities; you can ask them to complete a specific task if you want, or just let them do whatever they want.
Watch what happens as they explore the site. Try to figure out what they do, what they want to do, and how the two match up. Pay particular attention to what happens when things go wrong. Remember also to look for what they didn’t do, but that you might have expected they would do.
Write a blog post covering the following points, in this order, using subheadings to separate each point:
Identify the website you selected (including a screenshot), and briefly — and anonymously! — describe your user tester, their technical expertise in general, and their familiarity with this type of site in particular.
Describe your user’s actions… What did you observe? What did they do that you found unexpected? What problems did they as a novice user encounter that you, as an expert user, would not have encountered?
Focusing on the difference between expert and novice users, discuss how the interface helped or hindered the user in their activities from a user-centered design perspective, and explain how the site might better support novice users. Where appropriate, include embedded links to appropriate pages so that we can see the causes of the difficulties you observed.

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