Usability testing and feedback!

We are in the last phase of Outreachy and to be more specific,the last week of the internship. Time has flown by since my last post and I have no idea how it went by so fast. Anyhow,we have progressed a lot more since then.

Post working on the mockups in Inkscape,we started working towards usability testing of the mockups we had done so far. While it is easy to keep iterating the current designs,it is important to get feedback from real users. I was hoping to get more insight into the workflow and the elements that weren’t as obvious as we expected them to. And it worked like a charm. While working on any project, we get so invested in it and sometimes need a new unbiased perspective to move forward.

I did the usability testing with a few people I know from my college and also a couple of team-members from Cockpit. While I used paper prototypes to get feedback from the users in my college,we went with sharing images of the UI for remote testing with the users from Cockpit team. We did run into a bit of issue since screen-sharing the images of the UI would not work and we had to ultimately resort to sharing images via GitHub. I wish the screensharing worked since it might have led to easier access.

Tasks

Users were asked to perform the following tasks after I gave them pre-defined scenarios:

1.Allow new ports through the firewall.

2. Close ports from the current firewall rules.

3. Control the traffic log and infer data from it.

An example of the scenario was,”You are hosting an instant messaging app on your server, but you are unable to access it from the other computers in the network. It is probably due to the firewall settings. See if you can find out the port number and allow it through the firewall.”

User Feedback:

I gathered the user feedback and have listed them in their order of frequency ( from high to low):

  1. Need to see more filters ( especially, blocked traffic) in the traffic log.
  2. Include names of common services and ports to choose from instead of having to enter the port number.
  3.  Confirmation dialogue before port rule is removed.
  4. Add access rules for particular subnets.

Implementing the feedback:

From the above listed issues,number 3 is a very obvious issue and something that should have been included in the earlier iterations too! While we are working on the mockup to add more filters to the traffic log and a “Suggestions DropDown” for the port number and services,adding access rules for particular subnets has been kept for further iterations of the UI.

The final tasks for me is to implement the UI from start to finish and perform usability testing with the working prototype to get more feedback.

 

( I know I always say this,but there is definitely a new post next week. Meanwhile,check Outreachy’s website for applying to their next round of internships.)

 

Week 5 & 6: Inkscape mockups and implementing the UI

It has been a bit too long since my last post! My last post was about some updates on the user stories and the wireframes.

I had been using Pencil to make most of my wireframes. More often than not,I would end up having to search for a lot of other wireframing tools since not all elements in the wireframes could be achieved with Pencil itself. So,if Pencil did not fulfill my requirements,I would move to Chrome extension of Balsalmiq and a lot more other extensions which I did not use more than once. This was frustrating and I finally decided to learn to use Inkscape for creating better high-fidelity mockups. Before starting to use the application directly to create mockups, I read Máirín Duffy’s tutorial on creating mockups. This is a great starting place to learn the basics . But the more you use Inkscape, the more you learn.

In the following iterations,we also moved from a tabbed layout to putting the two features parallel to each other to the current layout. The current iteration has the “Access Port” feature on the top and the “Traffic log” at the bottom. Here is a snippet of the mockup iterations:

A) This is more like a wireframe than a mockup and was made using Pencil.

port-1

 

B)Second Iteration: Parallel layout of features. This mockup has a lot of inconsistencies .I was still learning to create objects and move them,but Inkscape’s “Cusp to the corner” feature would frustrate me especially because I still hadn’t realised that I could simply use the arrow keys to move around the objects. Silly,right?! add_port

C)Third iteration:  This is the most current mockup and I have been able to modify lots of small (but important)details in this iteration. The error states for the “Traffic Log” needs some more work to include cases where the data present is large. ti

Meanwhile,I had also started implementing the UI to get a feel of the mockups in Cockpit. While it was comparatively easy to implement tables and insert content using HTML,it was a bit difficult for me to get the dialog box for “Add port” running. This week I finally (FINALLY!) got it running and that made me super happy 😀 One more lesson I learnt while trying to get the code working is that the best way to learn to code ( faster and better) is to read ,understand and play around with codes of existing applications ( definitely in your fork of the application’s repo 😛 )

More to come in the next week!