Online Journalism: Fall 2009


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Your Paper Prototype Documentation

You need to test your paper prototypes at least twice. Make refinements between the testing process (and during!). Document these testing sessions:

200 words on test one & 200 words on test two:
What did you set out to test (i.e. what is your thing?)
What did each test reveal?
What did you change after each test?

Photo documentation (upload to <a href=""Flickr) or EVEN BETTER: video, uploaded to YouTube.

Include links to your documentation and the report itself in the comments of this post.


Filed under: Homework

17 Responses

  1. Laura Kozak says:

    Prototype Test #1

    My prototype is a modified Google Reader that you could access by logging into your Loop Mail accounts. Columbia’s Google Reader would be strictly for Columbia students and feature all of the day’s events, upcoming events, and a blog (featuring events, announcements and message boards) from each department. So a student would log onto their Loop Account and could easily browse through events of the day, events in the near future, and things specific to their major. They could also browse through other departments to see if there’s anything that interests them, as we do tend to have a lot of crossover. Users could unsubscribe from any feed if they decided they didn’t want it, allowing for customization.

    The very first thing I learned while testing out my prototype was that not everyone knows what Google Reader is. I asked ten different Columbia students if they had ever used Google Reader and all ten of them stared blankly back at me.
    That made it difficult to get a good test out of it because no one was familiar with its functionality. I had to explain the gist of the program and how you would use it in everyday life. Also, I don’t think the tester understood the objective of the project. I explained that I just wanted him to play around with it, like he would use a computer. But because he was unfamiliar with the concept of Google Reader in general, he didn’t understand how it would be used. He liked the idea of one place with all of Columbia’s info on it, but said that he probably wouldn’t use it because he had never used it before and wasn’t going to adopt something new. Overall I think the idea is good but it would be difficult to maintain that much information. The reader delivers the information in an easy to read way but I think all it has to offer might overwhelm users.

    Prototype Test #2

    The second test went better in that while the tester didn’t know what Google Reader was, they were content to just play around with it until they figured it out. They did however point out that they had never seen a reader tab at the top of their loop mail page. The reader isn’t offered to us using our Loop Mail accounts. So we’d either have to ask Google to set every student account up with one, or every student would have to get a gmail account. We’ll look past this monumental hurdle to other good things about the second test. She wasn’t really interested in all of the different majors at Columbia so she didn’t even bother checking the rest of them out. She looked at current events, week’s events and then Photography events. She said that’s all she’d use it for because she’s busy outside of school and doesn’t really care about the rest of them. When I asked if she would use something like this to stay in touch with the school she said she might if it was made very easy to use and log on to. Otherwise she’s content to get her info from flyers posted around campus and word of mouth.

  2. vbbg says:

    Veronica Libman
    Paper Prototype

    Kiki Allen

    Kiki was the first person I tested the prototype on and initially she did something that I overlooked. From the first page she asked me if this was something she had to do because students are usually given a choice. I realized that no, I don’t want to give people a choice because then they won’t give the school the information they want. From the third page my goal was to have student’s select one choice of the four given, but she instinctively selected more than one. She wanted more, and I didn’t have that option available. I had to make a modification that told the user to ‘select all that apply’ from the beginning. Finally, at the end of the prototype she noticed that I included a page that wasn’t necessary. I had to make a modification and remove that page. Otherwise it was relatively successful.

    Lauren Niffin

    Lauren was the second person I tested my prototype on and it was a mush better success. With the modification made at the beginning of the prototype she followed it simply and was not confused by the process. The only thing that she was a bit confused by was the wording of some of the event options I had down to select. She had to ask for a definition of one in the art section, but she explained that’s because she isn’t that familiar with the art scene, but still wanted to select it as something she was interested in getting information about. Other than that everything ran smoothly. No modifications necessary.

    Kimmy Wilson

    Kimmy was a slight problem from the beginning because she didn’t understand what I was asking her to do. After staring at the paper for a few seconds she told me she didn’t get it. I had to explain again to think of it like a computer screen and your hand as the mouse. She still didn’t get it until I physically moved it over her computer screen and showed her what to do. After that she seemed to follow the directions easily. She didn’t really ask any question and just followed along simply. It was successful and I didn’t need to implement any other modifications.

    Here is the link to my flickr page:

  3. jeffbiertzer says:

    Test 1:
    I set out to test a social networking option for Columbia College, where students can ask other students anything quickly and easily. I am also creating a web page that displays a student calendar created by students.
    My first test revealed that my AskColumbia social networking design worked and it’s easy to use. Students can communicate about anything (educational, entertainment, dining, friendship, and informational). All the page does, is post student questions with the option of reading others’ responses and gives the student an option to comment as well. But it was not quick to get to with Columbia’s website.
    I also designed a student calendar which allows students to fill in specific events that they think are interesting on specific dates. If a student’s band is playing on September 25th, mark the date on the calendar and let other students know about it. But again with Columbia’s website, it is hard to get to.
    Which lead me to create a new homepage for Columbia College.

    Test 2:
    The new homepage only gives options to link to other pages without the huge picture of a Columbia student jumping in the air. There is nothing forced on the students and it is their choice on what they want to look at, while showing the diversity of Columbia and its students.
    The home page will list about 12 main links that provide social networking, (facebook, AskColumbia, student calendar) education, (student news, oasis), and a chance for students to show off their work to the student body (itunesU, the Chronicle). There will also be just one universal log-in.
    In one click students can now get to the page they want. With the current website I often have to click three or four times to get to the page I want. That is way too many clicks with wait time.
    Overall, a new Columbia homepage with AskColumbia and a student calendar by students are all quick and easy to use, which I feel would increase the amount of students who would utilize Columbia’s web site.

  4. The first run I knew was not going to feel complete. There was a lot I wanted to include on the application (I chose an application for the Palm Pre cell phone. This app ought to be applicable to an iPhone and any other cell phone, but because I have a Pre and am most familiar with it, that’s how I constructed it. It is, I suppose, the idea that counts), but I knew I was missing some things from the brainstorming session. I had Bre Forkes run through it. She didn’t understand a couple of the icons I had drawn, and two of the buttons did not lead to legible results. That initial design was based largely on the facebook application for the Palm Pre.

    When Mr. Sinker posted the whiteboard notes online I was able to get a better look at how I wanted everything incorporated. I reformed the app and added a drop down menu to include some more elements. I got some ideas from the New York Times app for the pre for this, as it offered some things the facebook app did not. When I had my friend Brian Conley (a Palm Pre owner) run through it, his reaction was, “Dude, that’s awesome. I don’t go to Columbia but I would totally download this.” Encouraging, no doubt. But it lacked some of the constructive criticism I needed. I had changed some of the icon designs to seem more obvious, but there was still one last icon that nobody seemed to understand without explanation, including him. It is a “party hat” that is supposed to symbolize the ‘Events On Campus’ button. Whatever. I can’t think of an image for that.

    On the third go-round, it seemed to work pretty well. Caitlin McCahill had no problems running through it, but she has never used a Palm Pre so I have no idea if she had a clear vision for what was going on. I think she got the gist of it though. Here she is giving it a test go . . .

    (by the way, because the video camera is AWEFUL, I feel I owe a better written explanation of what you are about to see. The app opens with a list of clickable headlines and short description of whatever would be running on the communications site. Up top is a series of six buttons: connections; downloads; jobs; calendars; email; events. Connections is a craiglist-style listing of artists in one department seeking artists in another, i.e journalists seeking photographers, fiction writers seeking actors or directors, etc. Downloads would feature song downloads from Columbia musicians, which could be set as ringtones or specific caller ringtones, as well as photographs and other artwork to be set as wallpaper or caller images. Jobs shows jobs in different majors, obviously enough, craigslist style. The calendar is a calendar with your schedule filled in, plus whatever events you add. The email takes you to your loop email — or whatever other emails you decide to link up to the app. The events is a list of on-campus or major-related in-the-city events, with “add to calendar” buttons with each description that add them to your calendar, with the option to set a reminder for them, much like the Palm Pre calendar.)

  5. Oh yea, and the scroll-down menu includes “home page,” “my saved events” and different majors you can click to get a, yet another, craigslist-style list of news updates in that major (events, internships, curriculum changes, etc.).

  6. Evan Minsker says:

    The complaints that I heard most frequently from the people I talked to was that they didn’t know what was going on. What’s more, they said that them and their friends who create art independently of any major (film students in bands, fashion people who write poetry, etc.) aren’t represented often on Columbia’s website.

    What I decided to create was an “artist hub” page. It’s got a comprehensive list of artists who go to Columbia, but more importantly, a calendar of ongoing events.

    So here’s what the site itself looked like:


    And here’s what the calendar portion looked like:


    And here’s what the hubs looked like:


    So here’s what my tests showed:

    Test #1 – Tyler Nickell

    Tyler Nickell, the illustrator of Five Tunes and a good friend of mine, essentially told me outright that the idea sounded “terrible.” His utter lack of enthusiasm for the project was discouraging from go. The calendar portion of the page went completely untouched. He went through the motions and clicked on the various concentration hubs, but I think he did it just to humor me. Then he went home. He seemed tired, so I’m sure that didn’t help.

    Test #2 – Morgan Barrie

    Morgan didn’t seem to care about it either. She did utilize the calendar and clicked through the hubs, but I think the idea, in paper format, was too abstract for her. Perhaps the site would be more effective if there were more concrete uses of multimedia, brighter colors, or actual people in the artists’ hub instead of squiggly lines in place of actual names.

    After the tests, I realized that the calendar section I created wasn’t getting any love. It looks just like every other calendar. My solution? Don’t make them search for the information. Throw it in their faces. Behold.


    As you can see, the giant red text that reads “TODAY,” followed by information about free food and a dance contest, should be an attention grabber. Also, to the right, there’s a YouTube video of “something hilarious/adorable.” Got ’em.

    Now here’s the video. I used the camera on my laptop, which is apparently broken. It came out kind of glitchy and the sound was shot, so I replaced the sound of my friends’ apathy with “Mini-Skirt” by Esquivel. Hilarity ensued.

    Quick note, I say “Test #1,” but I forgot to put “Test #2,” which I only just realized upon a second viewing. Whoops. Anyway, they’re both in there. I promise.

    And if the embedding didn’t work:

  7. chiwoj85 says:

    Prototype # 1:

    Originally, my plan was to use my prototype on a white board and post it in one of the dorms by the elevators so the students could see it as they left and came back from class. It would have the top local news, Columbia news, national news and the weather. Unfortunately, the management office said I couldn’t do it, with one of the main reasons being I didn’t live on campus. So instead I decided my best bet was to put it in one of the buildings.
    I eventually decided on doing it in the journalism building, putting the papers above some of the other flyers on some of the poles. I put the paper which had all of the above elements on it above some flyers so others could see it. I chose the poles closest to the TV’s, because many people stop and watch the TV, so many people stopped saw the papers and I was able to talk to them. In the 20-30 minutes I had it up, I was able to speak to 15 people about what they thought I could improve on and they felt that the headlines were nice, but some of the stories they would like to be expanded more upon.

    Prototype # 2

    After talking to the people mentioned in the first prototype, I felt like I knew more of what the people at Columbia were looking for. I fixed it so that I took some of the “bigger” and more “relevant” stories and added some key details so that the students could get more of an idea of what the story is about. The people I saw that stopped to look at the prototype seemed to appreciate this example more, as it gave them a gist of the story and if they were interested, they could check it out later themselves.
    Although students seemed to be more receptive to this prototype, they had their suggestions as well. The suggestions were mixed between students. It seemed as if the students who were underclassmen wanted to know more about things like local and national because they knew more about what was going on with the school stuff because more of them lived on campus.
    Now for the upperclassmen I spoke to, it was the absolute opposite. Since most of them lived off campus in apartments and commuted, many of them were not aware of some of the events going on on campus. They said they read enough in the papers and watched more news, but they wanted to be more integrated in their school activities.

    and now the pictures…

  8. My prototype basically involved adding a few extra features to the Columbia’s on Facebook application. Most of the students I interviewed said they would definately use the app if they just new it existed, and they thought it would be a good way to not only connect themselves with their peers, but also a way to find out about events in Columbia and around the city. However, students also want to be able to choose the content they receive, and when and how they receive it. Since students are already familiar with how Facebook works in general, they can just adjust some of the settings of this app to get what they want. I started out with the main page you would see when using the app. Drawing everything out what pretty much a test on it’s own. I wanted to get specific with some of the options students wanted. The site already asks for your zipcode, so instead of just compiling all that information from everyone for no seemingly good purpose, this app could use your zipcode to find information about activities in your area. People are sometimes hesitant about putting out personal information online, but there could be a note on the page telling you what will happen if you put in your zipcode. Students I interviewed are also big-time texters, whether they have a blackberry or a regular cell phone. I also included a box where you could enter your cell phone number, and then participate in a brief pop-up survey about what kind of information you want sent to you in a text, and how often. Sending information in a text would also allow students to continue communicating on their cellphones by giving them something they can forward to their friends’ phones as well. All of this would be done in the “Settings” area of the original application. So, as I drew all of this out, I did run into some problems like, how specific should I get with what kind of information students can choose to receive. Information like restaurants in the area or places to shop would be hard to do because first of all, you can just Google that. Secondly, this application would have to have some way of getting that information, probably from a search engine like Google. So, it seemed a little unnecessary. So, the pictures shown here are examples of how this feature was coming together, and how it was taking some more brainstorming and narrowing down of my idea to make it work. Here are photos from test 1.

  9. Test 2
    I decided that getting so specific about what information students would want would not be a pheasable option- atleast not at this point in the development of this application. The main page of a student’s profile on the Columbia’s on Facebook app remained the same, as did the settings page. The page for customizing your options was narrowed down to what general events students wanted to be notified of, and where they would be taking place. On this pop-up, you can also choose if you would like your friends to know about what events you’re attending, which would facilitate a line of communication between students. After customizing your options, if you entered your cellphone number on the settings page, you can choose to take the brief phone survey. Since the student would have already declared what events they would be interested in, the phone survey simply asks how often you want to be notified of the events. See Test 2 on this link-

  10. Stillmaker says:

    Prototype Test 1

    After numerous interviews with students I designed an additional website that could hopefully satisfy their needs. The site is called the After School Spot. The purpose is to inform Columbia students of the surrounding available entertainment and provide them more opportunities to network.
    Compiled into comprehensive databases organized by its contributors, the site features lists of coffee houses, open mic venues, concerts and food establishments. It also updates its users on upcoming Columbia and Chicago events. The message board feature allows Columbia students to interact with one another and post ads that can vary from selling a chair to auditions for a student film.
    My first test was a good trial and run. I sketched out my web pages into my notebook with Jeff Westin as my test subject. Jeff used his finger to click on the hand-drawn buttons as I then flipped to the corresponding notebook page.
    This process proved tedious as I lost my place and pages stuck together. My drawing abilities are sub-par so portions of text were incomprehensible to my guinea pig.
    I included a movie theater button that would bring you to a page that lists cheap movie theaters in the area, show times, film synopsis, etc… This page was not well liked because it would be a difficult interface coupled by slow timing due to its immense content. I was told that yahoo movies would be a better option to go with.

    Prototype Test 2

    I decided to abandon my dreams of an artist and went for technology. I used typed print as my permanent buttons that made up my menu bar and related links. I replaced the disliked movie button with New Things to Check Out.
    This new web page lists new and upcoming events pertaining to Columbia and the City of Chicago. The events are oriented to fun-filled activities such as ice skating in Millennium Park, accompanied by it’s hours of business and rates. Or stay informed by checking the upcoming guest lecturers at Columbia.
    I used Suzie Ross as my test subject. The interface was simple, easily navigable, and cleanly organized were her reactions.
    The typed font as buttons and background enhances the visual aspect of surfing a real web page was my thought process. It seemed to payoff.
    Her criticisms were that the pages looked repetitive in terms of format and more color was needed. The priorities of placement on the message board page may be better if rearranged, but she couldn’t give me substantial reasoning.
    A variety of different topics could be linked inside of the web pages to separate from the repetitive feeling. Perhaps a scrolling video bar that showcases student’s work could make an interesting tangent.

    If the embedding didn’t work:

  11. Mark Hertvik says:

    I designed a paper prototype for a Columbia-affiliated website called Crossroads, where students (and nonstudents) who need to borrow students from another school to work on a project (i.e. a film major needs actors and musicians for a short piece) can find people who have and want to practice those skills.

    I’d like to say “Crossroads” refers to students from different disciplines meeting and working together, because that really fits and sound clever-ish, but actually I was trying to think of an artsy name and the only thing I could think of for some reason was Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads. So there you go.

    And somehow I missed that I was supposed to test it on other students, although testing makes a lot more sense with that information. It’s been a long week. I do have a documentation paper but it’s kind of weird and confusing since I only “tested” on myself.

  12. Margaret Smith says:

    Paper Prototype Test #1: Lincoln Moore
    For my paper prototype assignment, I decided to create an application on the Columbia website where students can manage the Columbia events they want to get updates on with a customized student calender. When I talked to students last week, a lot of them said they were interested in all of the events that the school has to offer, but no one knew where to get the information. Many of them didn’t read the “In The Loop” newsletters that the Student Communications department sent out, because it gives a full list of all the events going on that week, and for most students, that’s too much information to sort through. That’s when I started talking to them about maybe customizing the events and campus news that they get from the school, and a lot of them thought that was a really good idea.

    I knew my first test would be rough, since I didn’t know where I really wanted to go with my application. I decided to just make a layout of the front page first, test it on one of my friends, bounce ideas off of him and go from there. I knew I wanted students to be able to log in to their event calender from the front page of Columbia’s website, because then it will be there for them right away when they go on and it’s that much easier to get to the calender from there. My roommate, Lincoln, went through the motions pretty easily. Then we talked about just creating a quick survey for students to fill out that lets them choose what kind of updates, news and event alerts they want from the school.

    Since a lot of students I talked to thought the facebook application was a great idea but never even knew that Columbia had one, I also put that on the front page of Columbia’s website. Lincoln clicked on the facebook link on his own, which showed me that a lot of other students would be interested in it, too.

    Paper Prototype Test #2: Kara Knigsly
    My second test was much more complete, and it went pretty well. I decided to base my application off of the complete event calender that Columbia already has on their website, since I think it works. All I needed to do from there was make the survey for students to fill out.

    Kara actually went through the survey very easily. The two things she asked about were what kind of campus events and city events she would receive when she signed up for those, and if she had to get all of the events also sent to her e-mail address. I’ve been bouncing around some ideas about customizing the campus and city events, and I might add a list of those that students can choose from just like I did with the department updates. Since these are more technical issues that I think the Student Communications department has control over, however, I’m ultimately going to leave it up to them to decide.


  13. kaguilar379 says:

    Test #1- Text Alerts

    My test is on text message alerts; students could get together for events in or outside of Columbia by alerts sent to ones phone. Since a lot of students regularly communicate through text messages, the idea of sending alerts to their mobile device became an idea to our group. So I setup a plan to execute this idea.

    My mission was to test if I placed items in a good location for students to find. And if the layout of my design was functional and understandable?

    What my first test revealed was that my alerts were setup on a weird spot. I realized this looked weird next to the “Columbia on Youtube” and “Chronicle” option key. So I can later modify that.
    I also realized that I needed to have a better way of showing the “Outings outside of Columbia” listed. When I did my draft I sort of just put tons of outing on one page and set aside the “make a posting” option key to the side. So I can change this layout so it looks better.

    What I would change is where the text message alerts are placed. I see that I could place this under something more related to the subject. And I can also make “Outings outside of Columbia” more presentable for the viewers.

    Test #2 – Text Alerts

    What I set different, was the placement of the text alerts and the way the “Outings outside of Columbia” was organized. So I hoped this would change the function and look, of the design.

    By changing the placement of where the text alerts would be found seemed very helpful because this time I placed them under “Events & Exhibitions.” This made more sense because the alerts are for events occurring inside or outside of Columbia College.

    The other changes that I made was the layout of the page on “outings outside of columbia.” Here instead of showing all outings on several pages I decided to place the top three outings on the top page along with a rating and the kind of event it is. I placed the “make a posting” option to the bottom, which makes it not blend in with the other information.

    At the moment I don’t think I would change it but, I would’ve like to shown the other options one could do with the alerts. Which would be setting up alerts so that one could receive text messages on events occurring inside of Columbia. And I would’ve like to shown the various options given when setting up your alert, customizing the alerts to their needs.

  14. Annye says:

    I set out to test my prototype of the Columbia College iPhone App. The first person I tested was a non-iPhone user, which was interesting in that she only has limited experience on an actual iPhone, although in the end, she was able to maneuver though the app with relative ease. One place she did get confused was at the Directory. I put letters on the page, to serve as an index of sorts. Instead, she thought the letters were meant to be a keyboard. As a result, I updated this and labeled it clearly as an index.

    Sarah gave me great feedback for my application. She basically told me that she found it very useful and would definitely use it if she had an iPhone. She especially liked that she could look up her class schedule and see where it was. She, like most students, has a hard time remembering where her classes are during the first few weeks of classes and said she would definitely use that part of the application. She said that although the news was interesting, she probably would only read it when and if she was bored. She receives the Student Loop Newsletter every week and reads it in her email so she probably wouldn’t spend much time looking at it, unless she had nothing else to do. I found her feedback to be honest and helpful.

    Prototype Testing #1 from Annye DeGrand on Vimeo.

    My second tester was classmate Laura Kozak. She is an iPhone user and told me she didn’t know why Columbia didn’t have an application yet for the phone. While testing my prototype, she ran into no hang-ups. After I explained to her that everything in yellow could be pressed on, she ran through it without any hiccups. She appreciated that the application was so intricate and had great usages.

    After testing my application on her, I did not come up with anything to change on my application. There are definitely still some tweaking that needs to be done, but nothing that I could think of. I would need to test my prototype a few more times on other users to see how adaptable they are. It would be interesting to see an older adult try and use it, and see if they could adapt to it as well.

  15. Annye says:

    Oops! My videos didn’t post…
    Here are the links:

    Test #1

    Test #2

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