SFU Sprint Report #5: UI/UX
Over the past few sprints, UI/UX (user interface and user experience) has become an increasingly important and popular topic. Our SFU Sprint in May 2019 was no different. At this event, a team was formed to look at UI/UX issues, specifically, the manuscript submission workflow in the yet-to-be-released OJS 3.2. To learn more, we chatted with PKP staffer and UI/UX expert, Israel Cefrin.
First, why is it important to conduct UI/UX testing at PKP sprints?
Most of PKP’s platforms are designed to work and be used by humans. OJS has features and functionalities that demand from its users a set of interactions and decisions. Because of this, UI/UX research and design are a constant concern in the OJS software development. “How easy to use is the platform? Is the user journey optimized? Is a task to long or hard to be accomplished?” These are some questions that we seek to answer when testing OJS with real users.
What goal did you set at the SFU Sprint?
We wanted to test the entire submission workflow, a dry run so to speak, in the upcoming OJS 3.2 version. This included everything from a new user registering in the reader interface to a new submission in the backend. The idea was to conduct a simplified UX walkthrough (no recording) that would help to check stressful points or usability barriers that a new user could run into. It was a controlled environment where the software, not the user, was being tested and assessed from an “new user/author” perspective.
What did you learn from this process?
The UI/UI process is a constant work-in-progress. Testing uncovered several areas that could benefit from improvements and corrections. In particular, we identified that contextual help (i.e., documentation), especially for file uploading and metadata editing, were areas needing attention. Our notes covering the entire exploration can be viewed here.
What happens next?
Findings will be filed as bugs/issues in the PKP Web Application Library in GitHub. Here we’ll track what is already covered in existing issues and those that will have to be discussed and assessed to determine the feasibility of inclusion in the next or future releases of OJS.
Thank you to the UI/UX team: Israel Cefrin (PKP), Alex Wreschnig (University of Pittsburgh), Robert Browder (Virginia Tech), Marisa MacDonald (PKP), Eloisa Guerrero (PKP), and Michelle Wilson (Columbia University).