User Enactments

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The primary purpose of user enactments is to explore critical design issued identified through the needs validation process. For ‘Who’s That?’, those issues all relate to the nature of the content that the solution will display to the user. The needs validation demonstrated that the type of content displayed in profiles or transmitted back and forth in the system had a profound impact on the users’ perception of its usefulness. These judgements also seemed to be impacted by the users’ social goals. This analysis will look more closely at the relationship between content type, content layout, user social goals and perception of the system.

Matrix of Design Issues

Enactments were performed with the prototype designs varying along 3 different dimensions:

  • Interaction type: The design calls for up to three mobile interactions that can be initiated by scanning a profile QR code. We wanted to explore how these different interactions impacted the system’s perceived usefulness and how each could be used to accomplish the range of potential social goals.
  • Imagery Type: Earlier research established the profile image as critical to the system’s ability to capture and maintain user interest. However, the nature of the image seemed to alter the social implications of system use. We sought to explore how pictures of people vs. other content impacted perception of the solution.
  • Content Layout: While the image gets the users attention, our research has shown that it’s the content that determines if the solution will successfully initiate a new social interaction. We wanted to identify how to best present information to accomplish this goal.
    Design Considerations Matrix
    Note: The user enactments were also used as an opportunity to test a new way to attract user attention to the profile. Separate from the matrix comparisons, participants were shown tag clouds that dynamically reacted to their presence based on keyword matches with between their profile and the one on the screen. We anticipated that this solution would be both “attention getting” and relevant to the larger purpose of identifying common interests.



    User enactments were performed with participants recruited from among North Quad residents, by simulating the experience that the user would have with the system as it is currently conceived. This was accomplished using a combination of low and high fidelity prototypes and by talking the participants through their interactions with those prototypes. Sessions lasted between 30-45 minutes.


    User Profiles: Profiles were depicted using 10 high fidelity prototypes in order to elicit a realistic reaction to their content and design. Those designs were displayed to the participants on a flat screen monitor, as they would be if the system was live.
    Mobile Interface: The system’s mobile interface was depicted using a low fidelity paper prototype to efficiently simulate the interactions that were possible.

    Physical Context

    Tests were performed in the North Quad Media Gateway, which offered a reasonable facsimile of the elevator lobbies on the residential floors, along with access to the flat panel monitors required for the simulation. The space was was customizable enough to set up the test without disrupting residents, and sufficiently public to make participants feel comfortable.


    Recruiting Criteria: All North Quad residents were considered potential participants for the test.
    Recruiting Methods:Participants were solicited using an e-mail that was sent out to residents and by recruiting in person those residents found lounging around North Quad. All participants were enticed with snacks and beverages.
    Participant Profiles:Two females and one male were recruited ranging in age from 19 to 22. All were residents of the North Quad dormatory.


    All users were excited about dynamic cloud

    Every participant agreed that it made it easy for them to identify common information and it immediately caught their eye.

    Organization of content has huge impact on ability of profile to grab attention

    • “Block content” gets less attention
    • Individual, “chunked” tags are better

    Games are very popular as casual distraction

    While games may not prove to be the best way to initiate an immediate connection between users, they are likely to increase resident interest in reading the profiles in general. Hence, they could increase use of the system’s other interactions.

    People noticed real contrast between “photo” profiles and “non-photo” profiles

    • Profiles without faces were hard to identify as profiles
    • Profiles with faces are more personable
    • Non-photo profiles stood out more as something different from club advertisements
    • Non-photo profiles must be interesting AND relevant – judgments are made
    • Some people would, but some people would not post profiles with photos

    People are excited to track interactions with their profile, with caveats

    Users want to see how many people have interacted with their profile, but would be upset if the number was low. At the same time, a low number could entice them to improve their profile content.

    Users do not always want to contact the profile for the reasons that were called out in the calls to action

    • May use the QR codes to contact for totally different reasons
    • Potential conflict with needs of users who post profiles
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