digital comics museum Web view digital comics museum. usability report. Author: caleb laude Created

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Transcript of digital comics museum Web view digital comics museum. usability report. Author: caleb laude Created

digital comics museum

CONTENTS

exectutive summary…………………………………………….…………….2

introduction……………………………………………………………………....3

methods………………………………………….…………………………………….4

Task scenarios……………………………………………………………………..6

results…………………………………………….…………………………………….7

discussion…………………………………………………………………………….9

refernces…………………………………………………………………………….11

figures

figure 1 – DCM BANNER………………………………………………………..7

figure 2 – PUBLISHER GROUPINGS………………………………………..7

figure 3 – Comic wanted…………………..……………………………….9

executive summary

The Digital Comics Museum provides expertly scanned public domain Golden Age comic books. However, the site lacks a proper tagging system to organize the comic books, and needs general aesthetic and navigational refinement. I suggest DCM should provide an improved design with information cards for uploaders to fill out that bind their uploads to others through tags. In addition, DCM should separate the forum section of the site from the museum section as the site currently feels like a mix of the two.

Finally, in the process of working with people ages 20-82, I have concluded that DCM lacks a properly defined audience. The simplistic design of the website does not appeal to a specific audience.

introduction

The Digital Comics Museum is an online Golden Age comic book repository, boasting thousands of public domain comic books for download. My focus is on the site’s search function and the overall usability of the site’s organization. The goals of this testing were to figure out how easy or difficult it is to find a title on DCM.

The Golden Age of comics spanned around 1937 to 1954. After World War II, superheroes fell out of fashion in comics. They were lapsed in popularity by several diverse genres such as horror, crime, romance, science fiction, war, and westerns. This continued until 1954 when certain individuals linked crime and horror comics to juvenile delinquency. Today, DCM collects and organizes comics from this period that have lapsed into the public domain. The bulk of their collection is the sort of genre focused comic book common at the time that contains three to five one off stories with no licensed characters.

While preparing for this study, I noticed that Golden Age comic book titles often do not impart much information about their content. A science fiction title may sound like a horror title, and vice versa. Romance and western comic books generally have their genre—or a word that is related to their genre—in the title, but not always.

In this study I wished to know how big of an issue this title issue is when looking for comic books on DCM. In addition, I wanted to know if DCM had done anything to make certain writers or artists easier to find.

If one visits the forums on DCM, a section of the site I chose to not study although my participants ended up there anyway, one finds a bunch of people discussing Golden Age comic book writers and artists that are mainly forgotten about today. I noticed in my own use of DCM that if one wants to find a certain writer or artist they have to start a discussion thread. People may just be lazy, but it is a pretty common site on forum. This made me ask, why? Are the writers and artists not listed on the comic book’s download page? Are they not tagged? I wanted to find out if someone wanted to read a story by a certain writer, or see art by a famous Golden Age artist—like Jack Kirby—could they?

methods

My study involved my participants performing a series of task based scenarios in which they were encouraged to verbally express their thoughts with think alouds. Rubin and Chisnell write that this method, “offers many insights to why a problem exists and how someone tries to work around it” (81). I wanted to know their thoughts in real time, as quickly as possible.

Originally, I planned to time the tasks, but I decided against that after reading about my method in Rubin and Chisnell’s book Handbook of Usability Testing. They write, “One important reason to avoid asking participants to think aloud is when you are measuring time on tasks. Thinking aloud slows performance significantly.” (81).

These comics are not limited to one age group. I knew from the beginning I wanted to get a decent age range for my participants. Ultimately my participants range in age from 20 to 82. Digital literacy varied between everybody, with some users being craftier and more resourceful with the technology than others. Many of the comic books on DCM are donated by older collectors who have held on to their comic books for the last 50-60 years. It is entirely possible for an older crowd to visit DCM and riminess. I am a younger user and I use the site for free entertainment and to see comic books that I could never afford to own physical copies of. Other younger readers use the site to learn about the Golden Age of comic books and read some horror titles.

Getting participants to agree to the study was difficult. It is easy to forget that specialized vocabulary in any field, including usability, is not used by everyone outside of the field. I expected that when I told people I was doing a usability study they would know what I was talking about, realize that it is painless and simple, and agree to do it readily. After getting a few dirty, confused looks from people I like, I realized that I was going to have to explain way more than I expected. Usability as a term and a field was first. Then came the actual meat of the study. Most took it as a test of themselves originally, which was either the result of my laughable attempt to explain it, or is just the way these things are generally received. This would explain why it is so important to emphasize the user is not being tested, but the product. For some reason when I said that, people still did not believe me—at least not a first.

After completing the study, participants were asked to characterize their experience with DCM with a mix of scales and open-ended questions.

Characterize your experience with the prior tasks on a scale from simple to complex, and easy to difficult.

· Downloading comics on DCM (1 2 3 4 5, simple to complex) 3

· Finding a character or genre I want (1 2 3 4 5, easy to difficult) 4

Now, for two final questions. These are open ended.

· What was one thing about the design you really liked? It was simple, no pop ups

· What was one thing about the design you did not like? Did not feel refined, no button to get home. Weren’t a lot of ways to categorize the comics.

Following the questionnaire, I did a little of what Rubin and Chisel call retrospective review. In the text Rubin and Chisnell mention discussing the test with the participants after can take more time, but this was not an issue in my study.

My study ended up with two limitations. Although I had a good range in age and technological proficiency, I did not have that many participants as I should have. A second limitation of this study is that I only really used one method of testing. I had the above post study questionnaire, but the rest of my study was just think alouds while my participants downloaded comic books. Ultimately, my participants enjoyed the simplicity the of my study. I could have asked of more from my participants, but I felt what I was getting out of these people was good enough—and I did not want to push back much. I was just happy to have their time.

task scenarios

Task #1: You heard about the Shazam! movie going into production and decide you want to read some source material. So, you head over to the Digital Comics Museum to find a Captain Marvel title. Find and download a Captain Marvel comic book.

Task #2: You are facing a long weekend and need reading material. You’re a fan of comics and you have recently learned about the supposedly “graphic” and “lurid” horror comics of the 1950s. You decide to check one out at the Digital Comics Museum. Find and download a horror comic book for weekend reading.

Task #3: Now that DCM has made you a big fan of golden age comics, you decide to find a particular artist. Jack Kirby remains one of the most well-known artists of the golden age, so you start with him. Any Jack Kirby comic will do, you aren’t too picky. You just want to see his art.

RESULTS

Overall, task #1 seemed to be the most enjoyable for my participants because they seemed to appreciate having a specific character to look for. When first arriving at DCM my participants were greeted with three boxes. They are latest uploaded comics, top rated comics, and most downloaded comics. There was a tendency to start there and then scroll down. One participant noted it felt like they were bombarded with links. Another said the top boxes were confusing.

FIGURE 1

At this point on the page participants saw a long list of publisher groupings. Figure 2 shows the current method by which DCM organizes their comic books. They are grouped by publisher, with the titles grouped beside a “sub-categories” signifier. A user can hover their mouse over the titles and the little cover image on the left will change. Th