Coursework 1: Analyze the Office 365 Calendar

Imagine that your team has been contracted by Microsoft to evaluate how usable the Office 365 calendar is for the average university student. They want to know why so few students are using the calendar despite it being freely available and what they can do to make the calendar more usable for university students. Your task is to first learn what university students want and need from an online calendar system (design requirements). Then evaluate the Office 365 calendar based on those requirements.

You will be completing the coursework in groups of 3-4. Each group member will be responsible for completing and writing up one of the methodologies listed below. Within the group:

The group is then responsible for writing an executive summary of the usability of Office365 calendar based on the outcomes of each of the methods.

It is highly recommended that group members share results early and build on each others' work. For example, a Think Aloud is much easier to conduct if the researcher already knows from prior studies the types of tasks their users engage in.

All University of Edinburgh students and staff have free access to Office365 which includes access to both Outlook and the calendar.

Individual Studies

Each member of the team must select one of the methodologies below and be responsible for its write-up. Any number of team members can be involved in performing the required activities and helping with the evaluation; however, only the named team member will receive marks for it. The recommended page length is between 3 and 5 pages. If you feel you need more than 5 pages to explain what you did, that is fine but please think about usability from the perspective of the markers first. 40 of the 50 available marks will be assessed individually based on this component.

Please click on each methodology for details of how it should be performed and written up.

Design Requirements Usability Evaluation

Executive Summary

The whole team is responsible for writing an executive summary of the evaluation. The summary will be between one and two pages. It must mention elements from all the evaluations and how they add up to an overall view of the usability of Office365 calendar.

If the group made any broad decision up-front it should be mentioned in the summary. For example, if you decided to only focus on Masters level students, or you decided to include family members of students in your evaluation. Most groups will not have such a statement, but if you did make any up-front scoping decisions please state so.

This section is worth 10 of the available 50 marks and every member of the team will receive the same mark for it regardless of amount of contribution. If one member has not completed their individual component by October 16th the team may optionally choose to exclude that evaluation from the executive summary. If this happens, please clearly state so at the end of the summary.

Final Document

Recommended outline for the full document:
  1. Cover page with all the group member's names.
  2. Executive Summary page(s).
  3. Group member reports. You may put the attachments right after each report, or put them all at the end.
You are welcome to use any word processing software to write your report. I generally prefer PDF files, but I can also open anything a standard DICE computer supports, including Word and LibreOffice files. If you haven't discovered the pdfsuffle and pdfjoin commands yet, I recommend looking them up as they make merging pdf documents much easier.


Deadline: 20th of October by 4pm

If possible, please submit one document for the whole group. Electronic submissions are preferred but you may also turn in a paper copy to the ITO.

To submit the document electronically use the submit command, replacing "report.pdf" with your document name: submit hci 1 report.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions

What does "script" mean? What do I need to include in the script?
A "script" is a description of how you plan on interacting with the participant. Think of it like a script in a theater play. The document you used for the Think Aloud tutorial is an example of a script. It clearly states what you will be doing at each stage of the interaction and exactly what you are going to say to the participant.
Consent forms, do we need one?
You always need to make it clear to your participants what information you are collecting from them and how you will use that information. If you are collecting non-identifying information from people that you know and 1) people are not likely to experience more risk than they would in normal daily life and 2) the research you are doing will not be published or used for any sort of profit. Then you can use a basic consent form to make sure they are aware of what will be collected and are knowingly engaging in a study.
Can we study other calendar systems using the design requirements methodologies?
Yes, please do. Design requirements is about understanding what the requirements of a system should be. Studying how people currently use Google Calendar, for example, will tell you quite a bit about how they use calendar systems and what kinds of tasks they would expect Office 365 to be able to accomplish. An interview, for example, could ask a couple of questions about how the participant selected their calendar application and why they didn't pick Office 365, and then spend the rest of the time on how they currently use their chosen application.
Do we need to study both Office 365 and Google calendars as part of the usability analysis?
No. For usability analysis you only need to look at the Office 365 calendar system. If you really want to study Google Calendar too you can, but it is not necessary.
Does each person need to pick a method from both methodology lists?
No. Imagine a group made up of Alice, Bob, and Charlie. Alice could decide to do an Interview (design requirements), Bob could do a Think Aloud (usability evaluation), and then Charlie could then pick whatevery other methodology he wants to because the both lists requirement is already fulfilled. What they could not do is have Alice do an Interview, Bob a Focus Group, and Charlie a Survey because they would then only be doing design requirements methods.
How many words is 5 pages? Should I use double space? What margin size?

The 3-5 page recommendation is intended as a guide to help you understand how much detail I am looking for. Each methodology will require a slightly different amount of detail to describe it appropriately. Some online Googling suggests that 5 pages at 10pt font is around 3500 words and 3 pages is 2000 words. The page limit is intended to be single space, if you want to use double space then just double the limit, so max 10 pages double spaced.

The page limits are very much guides. If anyone turns in a one page document which perfectly answers all the stated questions I will happily give them full marks, but I consider this event very unlikely. If anyone gives me a 50 page version I will similarly give it full marks if answers all the questions, but am very likely to be grumpy by the end of reading it.

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