The usability issues highlighted within this evaluation indicate how TypePad could be improved and point towards recommendations for further redesign. Improvements would improve the effectiveness, efficiency, safety and learnability of the application. Improving these would improve overall usage and ability to retain users.
- TypePad Micro was evaluated from the point of view of the Hobbyist Blogger, the persona who fits the scope of this research project, as being the dominant user type of blogger (as opposed to Bloggers who may blog for professional or semi-professional reasons) These Hobbyist bloggers blog for personal reasons, motivated by self-expression.
- TypePad was chosen as one of the leading (most used) five free hosted online blogging services, along with WordPress.com, Blogger, Xanga, and Livejournal.
- This is because this kind of free online hosted service is the type of blogging platform most used by this type of Hobbyist user. Other products, such as TypePad Pro, will be used more by other user types of users.
- The scope of this study does not include premium services, such as TypePad Pro, and does not include offline software versions of blogging tools users have to download and host themselves.
- This is a user-centred approach to evaluating the usability of TypePad for this profile of users. The methodology is a heuristic evaluation, which is limited as it does not include actual users – it is not a usability test. It is simply an overview of how well the interface would meet usability and user experience goals. As such, by not involving actual users, it is limited. However the same methodology has been used consistently throughout the study for all of the free online hosted blogging services being evaluated.
- The second half of this study, which is to evaluate the usability of blogs published using these free online hosted blogging services, is involving actual users in summative usability testing.
TypePad Micro is generally usable with some exemplary usability.
Average score – 4.3.
- 7 out of 12 (58%) of the key factors evaluated in the TypePad Micro interface had exemplary usability.
- This blogging platform has the most factors with exemplary usability out of those evaluated.
- These were:
- The design ensures visual elements do not compromise usability.
- In matching the structure with the users’ needs – both with ensuring decomposition of users’ tasks is evident in the interface structure and ensuring the design provides a simple state space.
- In the provision of usable e-functions it offers very effective error management.
- It is user-centred; it matches language with target user needs.
- The user interface supports the user both with the provision of quality help documentation and facilitates learning.
The most successful aspect of TypePad Micro is how much it supports the user and exceptionally meets learnability goals for users.
TypePad Micro successfully meets usability goals of being effective, efficient, and safe to use, easy to learn, easy to remember how to use and with excellent utility for the functionality and information that is provided. Users will be able to achieve their main tasks and goals blogging with TypePad Micro.
Delightful user experience
The TypePad Micro interface very successfully meets user experience goals. The overall user experience is simple, engaging and positive with information, features and functionality which will enrich the user’s blogging experience and make them feel positive, that TypePad is: Enjoyable: pleasurable, entertaining, fun, emotionally fulfilling, satisfying, rewarding, desirable, Motivating: engaging, exciting, aesthetically pleasing, useful, valuable, Helpful: enhances sociability. It works a lot harder to be more than just efficient, effective and useful, the rich user experience will make the tool much more engaging.
Best for social networking
TypePad Micro was the best blogging platform evaluated for meeting sociability skills with users, helping them to share with others using social networking, and providing very easy built-in social networking functionality into the blogs published, to further enhance the social network for a blogger.
It will also feel familiar to bloggers who are familiar with social networking products such as Facebook and Twitter – it feels like a blend of Twitter and Blogger. This familiarity with these other products will also make TypePad Micro feel more familiar to users, further enhancing how easy to learn it will be.
Areas for attention:
There are some minor concerns with visibility of the system status so users may not always know what is going on and the efficiency and effectiveness of the navigation.
Worst for design
One aspect which has a quite serious concern with significant issues is how little it gives users control and freedom to change the design of their blog.
This means TypePad Micro is very weak at supporting creativity and self-expression for users.
It was the worst blogging tool evaluated in this study for the limited amount users could change the design of their blog.
The user experience is very similar to Blogger but does not offer the same scope to enhance the design of the blog.
It only offers users 3 design ‘themes’ and users are very restricted in how much they can play around with these.
This will impact on the primary motivation for Hobbyist Bloggers which is personal self-expression. If self-expression was less critical to the intended user group this would be less of an issue, but because it is so fundamental to meeting the primary needs of why users blog in the first place, this will demotivate and frustrate users to the point of stopping using the tool.
TypePad Micro a free online hosted service. In the TypePad portfolio of blogging tools on offer it is not their premium ‘TypePad Pro’ product. These cater for more advanced or technically adept users or bloggers who have several years of blogging experience and want something more than the basic TypePad offering.
If TypePad Micro provided more than 3 design themes and more flexibility for users to play around with these it would have scored better and overall would have been the best blogging platform for usability and user experience, but the severe limitations it offered with this meant overall the user experience was not as good as WordPress.com
NB – Scoring is measured as:
0 usability catastrophe
1 serious usability flaws
2 significant issues
3 minor concerns
4 generally usable
5 exemplar for usability
See related post – usability study of blogs created using TypePad, Xanga, WordPress.com, Blogger and LiveJournal.
Feel free to Share!