HCI 513: E-commerce

HCI 513 was basically a class about “An integrated study of design, technical, and strategic issues for Internet commerce”. Since I work full time as a web administrator I didn’t think I would learn much, but the professor was very informed and provided addiitional insight into the various aspects of e-commerce. Particularly, I learned even with the nice web services offered by FedEx and UPS, that implementing shipping on an e-commerce site is fairly complex. The projects we have worked on at work always charged a flat rate, although we are working on an implementation now that integrates our publishing group’s DB, which has a shipping calculator. But that is done on the inventory/fullfillment app side, so all we do is pass the address and get the data back from the API.


Team Projects:

Individual project:

I had to work with a team for this class (quite a few HCI classes involve team projects). I do not think academic teamwork is that effective, but this team worked well together. I will share more on my perspective of teamwork in the academic realm in another post maybe. The site for the prototype store we built is frequently not available. I can not host it here because it was built in ASP/vb script w/ an MS-access DB. I will link to the prototype & teamsite when I can verify they are running… it seems to be unavailable now. I did the CSS and html coding for the project site and the team site, the design was created by one of the other team members and tweaked by me. I also did some of the ASP/vb scripting.. well you can read more about it if/when the site is available.

The thing that I found most interesting was creating a usability testing script/site, that allowed us to conduct virtual usability testing. Basically, we (the designer and I) created some wireframe prototypes in Dreamweaver just as html, and then developed a test plan/tasks. I created a PHP script/site that presented the tasks and tracked the links clicked and whether or not users completed the tasks. It also presented the subjects with a post test questionaire to gather their thoughts on the experience with the site. From this I compiled a usability report that gave us some guidance on corrections needed on the site. Here is a link to the usability test prototype… Usability test. It was not meant to be used unattended, we performed the tests virtually over the phone or in some cases with the subject in person. The main reason we did it this way was because we were taking the class online and this allowed us to conduct the usability tests virtually as needed.

We also were given an individual assignment to evaluate and compare two real world e-commerce sites. We had a list of website pairs to choose from. I did my analysis on Dell and Gateway. This was just around the time Gateway bought eMachines, a good move on their part I think, but the business still has its work cut out for it. You can view the paper here. The site is designed using CSS and PHP, the template pulls in the content in dynamically. Since I used CSS, I could easily create a more traditional print format as well.

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