Website Analysis Project

For reference in week two audience analysis: (Audrey & Rachel) (Aaron & Mariah) (Jared & Kate) (Gab & Riley) (David & Nathan)

This assignment is due on week 13.

Working on a small team, you will conduct a usability study and content analysis of a GVSU website and prepare a report for Dave Poortvliet, the GVSU web manager. You will prepare this report for display on the course website as well as your own course portfolio site.

Each team will be responsible for conducting necessary research, communicating professionally, and submitting the following deliverables in a timely fashion:

  • Initial Project Post with Project Proposal [includes a short description of the project and your goals relative to this project.]
  • Oral Presentation on Website Analysis [last three weeks of class]
  • Usability Script [early stages of assignment]
  • Revised written content for multiple pages of the website. Front page should be included and, depending on the content, something like three or four internal pages.
  • Full draft of your recommendation report--including references to usability tests. [Week 14]
  • Final Website Analysis Recommendation Report [Week 14]

Learning Objectives
During this project, you will learn about and gain experience with

  • Providing analysis based on what you have learned about website design in class and through your research into website genre analysis.
  • Testing and analyzing a website for usability and user expectations.
  • Understanding how a large content management system like GVSU maintains remains current and improves.
  • Collaborating and communicating with team members.
  • Writing a proposal, usability test script, and recommendation report. To learn a bit more about usability testing and see Krug walk through an actual usability test, click here and watch the video on the page.

Research and Client Contact
We will begin this project with a class visit from GVSU's chief web manager, Dave Poortvliet. Dave will provide a close-up look at the work that goes on behind the scenes of GVSU's extensive set of webpages and sub-sites. He'll explain a little bit about the content management system they developed, the makeup of his team, but primarily he will share with us the results of a multiple studies he conducted that led to changes in the GVSU website just three months ago.

His visit at the beginning of our project will help us to learn what goes into a large usability study like he conducted, but we'll also learn that one problem inherent in offering up such a large website is that with tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of changes that have to be committed over the year that maintaining high quality of content and organization is a constant struggle.

To help Dave and the University in this effort, you and your team is charged with taking on a small sub-section or micro-site within the larger GVSU site and analyzing and then creating a recommendation report that addresses ways to improve it.

Following initial contact with Dave, the team should

  • Study the sub-site to learn as much as possible about the site's purpose and audience(s)
  • Audit the content of the site and prioritize content.
  • Research the particular genre of that site (find similar sites of similar departments and programs at similar universities and do some informal comparative analysis ).
  • Set up a face-to-face interview where appropriate and helpful with the sub-site's key content creators and managers.

Project Proposal
Following initial contact with Dave and after receiving your site assignment, the team will post to the course home page describing the client sub-site as well as a formal proposal for their project. The proposal should be one single-spaced page and cover topics such as

  • The purpose of the website.
  • Audience for the website.
  • Quick analysis of issues you believe the site may have.
  • Your group plans for completing the project.

The audience for this initial proposal is your instructor, not your client.

The proposal should be submitted as a web page in your own Drupal site and copied over as a web page with the appropriate tag on the course website.

Oral Presentation on Website Analysis
After completing the proposal, teams will prepare a 10-15 minute oral presentation supplemented by several web pages of content (copied to each group member's site). Each presentation should contain

  • An overview of the client and their website.
  • Genre comparison research.
  • Design analysis.
  • Content analysis.
  • Content revision samples
  • Usability concerns

Each team member is responsible for researching, preparing, and participating in the presentation.

Usability Script and Testing
Each group will draft a usability script for their usability tests. The script will be posted as a regular page to your own Drupal website. On the day that the script is due, each group will do some testing of their usability script with fellow students in class.

After the workshop in class, the team should revise the script before conducting usability testing. The revised version of the script should be of a quality that it can be shared with the client and will be due with the Website Analysis Recommendation Report (include the revised script as an appendices that you can refer to in your report).

Each group is required to conduct usability tests on the website with at least three individuals.

Website Analysis Recommendation Report

The final document of the project will be a recommendation report based on the group's research and analysis. Recommendations should be based on the team's own content and design analysis of the website and the results of the usability test.

The primary audience for this recommendation report is your client, that is, the department or program that manages this set of sub-pages on the GVSU website. The team will submit the report for a grade and provide a print copy that we can offer to the client. This report will be posted as a blog page to the course website (copied to your Drupal site) and should follow best practices for report writing. The final version of this report should include the Final Version of the Usability Script (see above).

At minimum, the recommendation report should be organized using the following sections (you may add more and should certainly use subsections):

  • Introduction
  • Background of the site (audience and purpose, client goals, etc.)
  • Initial Analysis (observations of team members)
  • Content Analysis
  • Content Revision samples
    Design Analysis
  • Genre Analysis Comparison
  • Usability Testing Results
  • Recommendations
  • Conclusion

Peer Collaboration Evaluation Document
Each individual will complete and submit to the instructor a Peer Collaboration Evaluation Document. This document is NOT to be shared with fellow group members. It is due the same day as the Website Analysis Recommendation Report.

Grading will begin with the following categories:

  • Document appearance
    • Does the document look professional?
    • Is it easy to read?
    • Does it use clear heading and subheadings?
    • Does it contain graphics where necessary?
    • Where using inline CSS to format the document is useful, does it do so?
  • Quality of analysis
    • Does the document point out strengths and weaknesses in the site?
    • Does it appeal to "best practices," especially those suggested by Redish?
    • Does it organize and elaborate where the site has achieved (or failed to achieve) those best practices?
  • Does the report suggest ways to solve problems where weaknesses are found in the site?
    • Where possible, does it show whether the "fix" is easy or difficult?
    • Does it give examples, if appropriate, for a better way to write or present content?
    • Does the report explain why fixes are needed (appealing to Redish or best practices) rather than just offer your opinion?

I have assigned you to the following groups:

SUBJECT: Request for meeting WRT 351

Dear Dave:

I'm a student in Prof. Royer's WRT 351 class, and as you know, we are working on a project to assess websites for content, design, and usability. Although we are best prepared to make recommendations on content, we will also, we hope, have something to say about design and navigation or other usability issues. We began our work on this project in Tuesday night's class.

Janet and I are on team together looking at the Study Abroad site. Our first task is to do some audience or reader analysis, and that begins with the analytics that you sent us. I believe we have a good, basic understanding of the imformation provided in the sheets you supplied, but we'd like to also meet with you to ask a few questions and get your general take on the needs for the Study Abroad website.

Our preliminary assessment has given us some opinions about what is needed, but we'd like to hear what you have to say and get some guidance from you about what you think would be most useful in improving the content, design, and navigation on this site.

I believe even a half-hour meeting would really help us, and we want to thank you in advance for your help.

We are both available during these times/days and wondered if you'd have a half-hour to meet with us sometime in the next week. We look forward to hearing from you as we are eager to get started on this project.

Mondays: 10-12:00 and 3:00-4:50