Week 13: WordPress Workshop, Usability Testing, and Exam #2

We are now in the home stretch of the semester, with only six class sessions remaining before finals week. We will need to use our time wisely to make sure that your client projects stay on track. Our in-class exercises will help us accomplish that goal, but your team will need to make solid progress outside of class, too. If you haven’t been meeting regularly as a team, that needs to change ASAP. At this point, your team should have a completed content inventory, wireframes, and a good sense of which software or framework you plan to use for your client site. All members of your team should have specific assignments and know exactly what they need to accomplish between now and our next class session.

During our last week before Thanksgiving break, we’ll cover a lot of ground:

  • On Monday, we will wrap up our discussion of The Elements of User Experience, so please read Chapters 7 and 8 (pp. 130-63) before you come to class. We will spend the rest of class in a WordPress workshop, learning how to evaluate and modify themes and plugins. At this point, all of you have a working installation of WordPress on your personal site, so spend some time this weekend familiarizing yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the difference between posts and pages, and the process of switching themes and activating plugins. If you run into problems or find yourself confused, I recommend watching the “WordPress Essential Training” on Lynda.com or visiting the WordPress Codex and WordPress Forums. (Bookmark these sites! They will be your best friends if your team decides to use WordPress for Unit #3.)
  • At the beginning of class on Wednesday, your team should be ready to show me a rough first draft of your client site. I expect that these drafts will be very rough, but having a draft means that your team will need to finalize some key decisions about your site: Static files or content management system? Which static framework or which CMS? Which theme(s) might work best? Which content stays, goes, or gets revised? During class, we’ll focus on usability testing by watching a usability expert conduct a test, then conducting a usability test of our own. Before you come to class, please read “Super Easy Usability Testing,” by John S. Rhodes, and review the “Usability Testing,” “Planning a Usability Test,” and “Running a Usability Test,” sections of Usability.gov.

Finally, a few words about our second exam: Because we have a limited number of class sessions left, Exam #2 will be an open-book, open-note (but not open-classmate), take-home exam. As we discussed earlier in the semester, the exam will be optional, which means that you only need to complete the exam if you are unhappy with your score on the first exam. If you are satisfied with your grade on that exam, I will simply duplicate that score for Exam #2. However, if you would like the opportunity to raise your exam grade, you can take home a copy of the exam at the end of class on Wednesday and submit it at the beginning of class on Monday, December 2. (Please note that although a take-home exam is likely to produce higher grades than an in-class exam, a higher grade on Exam #2 is not guaranteed.)

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, or if you want to meet to discuss your team’s progress on the client project, please let me know.