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Project Brief

A comprehensive cognitive ergonomic analysis on LinkedIn to study how well the mobile application matches the cognitive capabilities of novice and expert users.

Format - Classroom Project
Team - Individual
Role - Cognitive Ergonomic Analysis and redesign suggestions
Timeline - Jan - Feb, 2020

The Testing

In order to analyse the usability of the application I tested it with 30 users (15 experts and 15 novice users)

They were given a variety of tasks with different difficulties and their actions were recorded for analysis later.

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Methods used for the analysis

Hierarchical Task Analysis

To understand the entire flow of the app and the different ways of achieving the same goals.

NASA TLX (Task Load Index)

To measure subjective mental workload while using the app

Heuristic Evaluation

To find the difficulties in the user interface design with the help of usability principles.

Time Based Efficiency

To measure the efficiency of completing the task, i.e. the task time.

Task Effectiveness

To assess the accuracy and completeness with which users achieve specified goals.

Fitts’ Law

To examine and reduce the required travel distance as user navigates through the interface.

Hick’s Law

To examine the relationship between the number of stimuli present and user’s reaction time

System Usability Scale

To measure subjective opinions of the users and to verify the accuracy of the results.

A Quick look at the Interface

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Here's what the analysis using the methods showed

Hierarchical Task Analysis

Understanding the flow and tasks of the app

  • Complicated options, increase mental workload and frustration

  • Incorrect Placement of certain options

  • Settings tab has maximum information, long and descriptive buttons, increase cognitive load

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Click to view in fullscreen

Heuristic Evaluation

Does the interface follow the usability principles?

  • Major flaws of the application were in ‘Error Prevention’ and ‘Recognition and Recall’.

  • In some cases the difference between the buttons and information pieces is not very clear.

  • Few functions don’t match user’s mental models

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Was it easy to complete the tasks?

  • Less recognition and recall

  • Quite a few options are oddly placed

  • Effectiveness for both expert and novice user is not significantly different.

  • ‘Adding an App Lock’ & ‘looking for recommended Newsletters’ were too complicated

  • No user has 100% effectiveness.

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Time Based Efficiency

Did the tasks take too long?

  • Difficult tasks - look for newsletter (T-4), add app lock (T-7), look for today’s news and views (T-8)

  • Options were placed in sections of the app that weren’t obvious

  • There were only few affordances.

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Fitts' Law

Too far to reach or too small to click?

  • Most used tabs like Profile were far from the thumb reach

  • Uneven use of space

  • Button size is too small in some instances

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Hick's Law

Too many options? Too much thought?

  • More stimuli = More time taken to make a decision = More Cognitive Load

  • Very High Number of Alternatives

  • Placement within the list was not organised - increased time to complete task

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Was there significant mental workload?

  • The scores for novice and expert users - not considerably different

  • This might be due to the complexity and the lack of recognition and recall.


Perceived Workload by Novice Users


Perceived Workload by Expert Users

System Usability Scale

What did the users think?

  • A score below 68 indicates below average usability

  • Scores fall below the ideal score indicating a need to reassess the usability of the app


Usability Rating by Novice Users


Usability Rating by Expert Users

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Suggesting changes in the interface based on the analysis

The Style Guide

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The Screens

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This project showed the overview of the analysis done. To view the full analysis, click here


During the analysis of the application and the user study, I realised that very tiny aspects related to cognitive ergonomics could play a massive role in what users feel about the app. Throughout my user interviews, users were quite frustrated which eventually caused them to stop trying. The feedback received was more or less consistent between both novice users as well as expert users.

I also realised that a fine balance in design requires equal understanding of both functionality and efficiency as well as an organised and aesthetic placement of visual elements. Although I have learnt quite a bit about the analysis and have attempted to redesign the screens based on problems I identified, I still have a long way to go with visual aesthetics. Especially with social networking apps, designing clean User Interfaces can be a challenge.

Thank You

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