Sunday, February 9, 2014

Web User Experience (MOOC)

This Web User Experience course is a MOOC offered by the website. It is lectured by Amir Ansari, and is part of the Internet Communications Bachelor of Arts.


Web user experience is about how we interact with websites and services. It also includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of interaction, which can lead to brand awareness. Websites offer services, and we need a way to bring out their ease of use and efficiency. This is where user experience design comes into play. It encompasses many designs at the same time: information, interface, interaction, visual… But user experience also needs to be evaluated, and this course introduces different techniques to do so on top of explaining what user experience is.

Amir Ansari, the instructor of this course, is a Principal Consultant in User Experience at DiUS Computing and Stamford Interactive. He has over thirteen years of experience in UI and UX design, as a practitioner and a manager, working in user interface, interaction and user-centered design.

Course overview

The course is divided into four modules, or weeks. The first one gives an overview of user experience, including user-centered design and usability. The second module is more focused on user experience and interface design, and deals with information design, interaction design and visual design. The third module specifically addresses the users: the importance of knowing them, of understanding their needs, and how to gather some insights. Finally, the fourth module talks about usability evaluation in order to redesign a website, improve an existing website, or design a new website from scratch: usability evaluation, walkthrough, testing, competitor analysis, analysing and reporting.

Each module is itself divided into about ten short videos that go right to the point and explain one concept at a time, each of them followed by a quiz, and each module ends with an assessment of five multiple choice questions.

As a self-paced course, it can be taken at any time, you do not have to wait for the next session, plus you can take as long as you want to complete it. However, you still receive a Certificate of Achievement upon completion.

Benefits of the course

This introductory course gives a wide picture of the techniques and disciplines of web user experience, especially concerning the ways to evaluate it. Not only do you get the vocabulary of the field, but you understand both its need and its usefulness. The only drawback I felt was the lack of a real-world website study, or specific examples.

About personas

Users are not just users, they are people who are looking to achieve a specific goal from a specific point of view. It is therefore important to group different users' goals into personas to better understand them and meet their needs. But personas are not only pieces of information about a hypothetic user group, they should convey empathy as well if we want the stakeholders to give them a face and care for them. This is also a good way to avoid any dark pattern in the user experience. Who wants to trick someone we care about?

Some UX blogs and websites

If you are interested in the subject, here is a short list of blogs and websites:

Suggested Reading

The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience

The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience, by Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla (2012, 968 pages)
Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug (2014, 216 pages)

Expérience utilisateur pour le web (MOOC) (in French)
Experiência do usuário para a web (MOOC) (in Portuguese)
Experiencia del usuario para la web (MOOC) (in Spanish)

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