Initial VLC communication
When we began this project, we sought guidance as to where we should begin testing the interface. The VLC community primarily communicates via IRC, at #videolan, irc.videolan.org. A record of our first conversation can be found here.
Preliminary Needs Report
The goal of our project is to improve the usability of VLC's interface by improving the interactions between the Playlist and the Media Library (and other devices). In specific, we are focused upon improving the interface as presented in the current 1.1.4 version for Linux and Windows.
To gather information about the needs of VLC users, we each experimented with VLC on our own. We spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the default interface and the way the Playlist and Media Library currently interact. After this, we asked several other people to use VLC in order to find out how they would utilize the project for their own purposes. From this combination of preliminary testing, we found typical needs of users and incorporated these into the creation of our personas. We also now have a good feel for the challenges that the current interface presents to the typical user. Some of these include:
- Lack of visible options when first presented with the interface
- Lack of an intuitive way to add music to the Library
- Extensive browsing tree did cause some confusion
Rutherford Charles Johannah IV
Rutherford Charles Johannah IV is a college student in his second year at Oxford University. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to all types of music from classical to rap. He finds that if he listens to music while he works, he is more productive. He has dabbled with many music managers and programs, but he cannot find he one he likes to use. One of his hall mates suggested that he looks to the Free and Open Source Software community to find a suitable program to manage and play his music. He does not know much about open source projects, however he does like the idea of being able to play any type of file available. He has basic computer skills such as word processing and email, but he fears he will not be able to find, install, and run the software he downloads from these “open source communities”. He is worried that he will not be able to use VLC media player to quickly create a play list to study.
Kenneth Theodore is a Villinova University alumnus. He is currently employed by IBM. He likes watching tv shows and decided that he wants to make a 3 hour video playlist of the best episodes along with popular youtube clips to introduce people to one of his favorite tv shows. He needs to use VLC because it is one of the only media players he can find that plays FLV videos. He has basic computer skills such as word processing and email, but he has never used VLC before and he fears he will not be able to create, edit, and finalize the playlist he wants. He will be using files from multiple dvds and video clips downloaded to his computer. He also hopes to add videos found on the Internet that he was not able to download.
Charles Hann is a college student in his second year at Brown University. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to all types of music and watching the music video's on Internet. He has tested many music managers and programs, but he cannot find he one he likes to use consistently. He likes the idea of software developed by Open Source Software communities and the idea that anyone can contribute to help better the program. He finds VLC media player and is intrigued that it can play almost any video or song file he has. Also that it has the ablility to stream videos from the Internet without having to download them. Most of his music is from various sites and not all of the files are the same type. He has basic computer skills such as word processing and email, but has just started to use VLC. He will be importing the media from a collection of flash drives that he carries with him. He hopes to create an awesome playlist that he can study to and that will continuously play.
Through personal use and surveying other individuals using VLC, we came up with personas that (we feel) cover enough of the typical user base to guide our process. We carefully divided commons goals and tasks among these personas to represent the diverse user base, and have a starting-point for designing our first mock-ups.
Individual testing is very important to the success of our project. To test our mock-ups and ideas for improvement, we will be conducting individual test sessions with a number of participants. We will show our participants our paper mock-ups, as well as have them interact with the VLC interface on the computer.
- We will develop a script and list of tasks for the user and facilitator to follow, thus providing a smooth testing process. This will limit the number of confounding variables in our results due to differences between participant tests.
- They will examine and use the playlist/media library interfaces, and look at: finding files on the computer and adding them to the playlist, and adding media files to the media library, as well as the interaction between the two.
- The user will also be asked to find and open video files. Some of the files may be in unfamiliar formats, which will be used to add levels of complexity to the tests.
- In addition, we will use two (or three) interface skins to determine which aspects of the skin/interface they liked or disliked, we will observe how the user interacts with the interface to determine our changes.
- The information gathered from our testing can provide relevant data, which will help us find valuable solutions to common problems.
Our Initial Mock-ups can be found here.
You can find the report of our testing results here
You can find an explanation of the results and what changes we would recommended here .