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Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

How usable is WordPress? (Part IV – Analysis by Cognitive Walkthrough)

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Hold on to yourself, folks – this is going to be a lot of information – but if you’ve made it this far, I’ll take it you don’t mind!

Now that the preparatory phase is complete, it’s time to do the actual analysis. In this part of the Cognitive Walkthrough model, I’ll be working with each of the spreadsheets from the last post – remember these? (See the readable Google Docs workbook here.)


These are the action sequences that are going to guide the process for the three tasks previously outlined:

  1. Publish a new post
  2. Add a separate “About” page
  3. Preview and apply a template that changes the blog’s appearance from the default

Each of these actions, as identified above, will be measured against four criteria, again, paraphrased from Wharton et al (1994):

  1. Does the user know enough to achieve the desired affect?
  2. Does the user know the correct action is available?
  3. Will the user know if the correct action will achieve the task?
  4. Does the user get feedback that things are going OK and progress being made?

When each of these questions is held up to each of the actions (for a total of 292 questions asked over 73 action items!), I can then write little “stories” of success of failure. Would a user know to do a given action, based upon my original user profile? If yes, I note it and continue on. If no, I note it and continue on the path of the action sequence as if the user would know what to do. I’m sure this may all sound confusing, but let’s hope some useful insight into the usability of WordPress, Blogger and TypePad will emerge…drum roll please…

By doing this comparison for all three blogging platforms – WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad – the following data resulted: see as Google Docs Workbook here. Each spreadsheet focuses on one task, for all three blogging platforms; the workbook as a whole is data for all three user tasks. You can also see platform by platform conclusions in the workbook.

So what? See part V – Conclusions from the Cognitive Walkthrough

This post is part of the ten-part series called Is WordPress Usable?

The series documents my learning process in attempting to systematically identify usability problems in, and suggest improvements to, the blogging software as might be done in the emerging field of User Experience.  This project was undertaken as part of LIS590IIL, a class held in the Graduate School of Library and Informaton Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois during Fall of 2009.


Written by nicolibrarian

November 5, 2009 at 4:50 am

Posted in UX/IxD Portfolio

One Response

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  1. Oh my god enjoyed reading this post. I submitted your rss to my reader.


    January 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm

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