Recycling@UM - Recycling at University of Maryland
Recycling@UM will consolidate recycling information and provide for a one-stop place for everything about how, what, and where to recycle in and around the University of Maryland, College Park campus.
This page will focus on the user needs: tasks, scenarios, and references.
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The interface of the application will be geared toward helping its users easily identify, locate, and learn contact information of various recycling sites around a user entered: address / selected location, distance, and / or type of recycling. One of the foremost features of the interface – Recycling Site Locator – will utilize the capabilities of the Google Maps, and allow users to visually locate site(s) that recycle user specified item(s).
The system will not require any authentication and authorization capabilities; thus, users will not be required to register with the system before its use. Anonymous users of this system will consist primarily of UM students and faculty, the target audience. The absence of user authentication improves the user experience as remembering username and password combinations is often an arduous task.
The users will be presented with a plethora of information specifically dedicated to recycling what’s, how’s, and where's. Criteria based searching will be an important feature, allowing users to jump quickly to the desired topic. By leveraging the map browsing offered by the Google Maps API, application users will have the ability to intuitively traverse a general area or specific address.
The interface will provide HTML forms for entering an address, item(s) to recycle, or both, to help to users locate the recycling centers that most closely reflect user entered criteria.
The overall application’s GUI will facilitate recycling by providing a clear and intuitive, not overly bloated, elegant user interface. To accomplish these goals, the interface will convey its functionality via logical structure of user forms, some form auto completion (for addresses, for example), pleasing colors, legible fonts, and smooth page transitions.
We would like users to be able to submit their own content, thereby enhancing the application with the newest information (for example: new recycling locations). This user submitted content will prove helpful to other users. The users will be able to leave feedback and rate different recycling sites. This capability should allow for singling out those sites that are particularly helpful or perhaps those that are difficult to use.
Users with different technical backgrounds should be able to effectively use the interface, since it will primarily be designed for a general user with limited Internet skills. This should help to keep the application usable for a wide enough audience of users to help with the application’s appeal and promoting valuable recycling habits among UM attendees.
User 'A' lives in a College Park apartment building right off campus. After one party he manages to collect over 100 beer cans in his apartment. 'A' wants to be responsible and recycle these beers cans but realizes that he has no idea where he can do that. He decides to try googling "recycling" and "umd" to see if he can quickly find a place to drop off these cans. The first link takes him to a website called Recycling@UM where he sees a familiar Google map of College Park. The user also sees a collection of picture icons with text and immediately clicks on the picture of an aluminum can. The map then displays all recycling locations that accept aluminum cans. He then has the option to put his address or select from a drop down list of popular buildings around the campus. Within 30 seconds of entering the site, user 'A' is provided with a list of places where he can drop off his beer cans along with their specific locations on a map of College Park. He picks the closest site and promptly recycles his beer cans.
User 'B' was walking around his local "Office Store" when he noticed an ad for a computer buyback program where people could bring in old monitors or whole computers in exchange for store coupons. He wanted to share this information with the College Park community since he knew that many people simply dumped old PC's into rubbish bins which end up polluting landfills. He also remembered using a service called Recycling@UM and seeing an option to submit new recycling locations on their website. When 'B' got home he logged on to the website and clicked the "Submit Recycling Location" link. He quickly filled out a form with the name of the location, its address and the actual details of the recycling services offered. He also checked the tick box that said "Paid Recycling Point" to make sure people knew that they can use this location make money and recycle at the same time. He clicked the submit button and immediately saw a new balloon pop up on the main page's map of College Park. This location would later be found by other users seeking to make a quick buck while protecting the environment.
An Engineering professor 'C' is reassigned to a new office and in it finds a closet full of used printer cartridges. Being a responsible, environmentally aware professor, 'C' decides to find a place where he can recycle these items. He suddenly remembers a flier he saw on the message board of his building about a website called Recycling@UM. He quickly googles the name and enters the website. Right away he notices a button with a photo of a printer cartridge and clicks it without bothering to read the label underneath. Since this professor has a car and is willing to drive to the drop off point, he simply inputs the College Park zip code and hits the search button. A list comes up along with a map that has the location of every drop off point. Professor 'C' notices that there is a picture of a dollar next to some of the locations. His eyes are immediately drawn to that particular location, and he reads that this place offers cash rewards in exchange for recycling the cartridges. He clicks on the description and presses "print directions", goes to the store, and comes out a richer man.
1. Rose, Mary. "Usability Test of a Web-based Instructional Program." 11 Nov. 1997. Ball State University. 28 Sept. 2008 <http://jcflowers1.iweb.bsu.edu/rlo/monroe2.htm>.
This website describes the usability test of an idea similar to ours. It lists in detail every step of the usability test. Although it focuses on home recycling, the general idea is the same as ours. It will be very useful when we design a usability test since we can borrow ideas and questions from this one.
2. Kalsher, Michael J., Rodocker, Angela J., Racicot, Bernadette M., Wogalter, Michael S. Promoting Recycling Behavior in Office Environments. Environmental Design: Office Issues and Human Factors Solutions / Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 37th Annual Meeting, 1993. v.1 p.484-488.
This journal article describes ways researchers helped motivate people in the office to recycle. It describes recycling activities before and after the researchers studied the office. It will help us motivate our users to recycle consistently and generate interest in the interface.
3. Harrison, Susan. "Optimal amount of time for obtaining accurate usability-test results." Proceedings of the 16th annual international conference on Computer documentation (1998): 173-79.
This article gives background information about setting up a usability test and finding effective results. After we design a usability test, this article will help us use the test accurately and effectively to obtain unbiased results.
4. Huang, Elaine. "Situated Sustainability." Interactions XV (2008): 17-18.
This journal discusses the problems with cell phone recycling. More importantly, it includes ideas about what prevents and discourages users from recycling. This will help us design an interface that motivates users to recycle.
5. Earth 911 <http://earth911.org/recycling/>
This website contains a tool similar to ours. It allows the user to select the type of product and location and it gives a list and map of recycling centers. It will help us design our interface since it gives a general idea of what information the user needs.
6. Nivala, A.-M., Brewster, S.A. and L.T. Sarjakoski, 2007. Usability Problems of Web Map Sites. Proceedings of the 23rd International Cartographic Conference, Cartography for everyone and for you, Moscow, Russia, August 4-10, 2007, Theme 12, CD-ROM <http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~stephen/papers/Nivala_etal_ICC07.pdf>
This paper describes a usability evaluation of web map sites (Google maps, MSN Maps, MapQuest, etc.) from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. The results of this study are very useful for this project, as a web based map will be the central element of the Recycling@UM user interface. The study details a variety of common usability problems and design mistakes made on web based map sites.
7. Hornbæk, Kasper, Bederson, Benjamin B., Plaisant, Catherine. Navigation patterns and usability of zoomable user interfaces with and without an overview, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), v.9 n.4, p.362-389, December 2002
This paper describes an experiment in which subjects had to complete navigation and browsing tasks on two maps. It details the users’ performance and preferences with different zoomable map interfaces (with an overview vs. without an overview). The information contained within will help us design an effective website.
8. Nivala, A.-M., Sarjakoski, L.T. and T. Sarjakoski, 2007. Usability Methods' Familiarity among Map Application Developers. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 65 (9): 784-795, Elsevier. © 2007 Elsevier Science
This study examines usability engineering in the development of map services. The details of this study will be advantageous when designing the Recycling @UM user interface, and enable us to take into account the diversity of users and their tasks.
9. Fairbairn, D., Andrienko, G., Andrienko, N., Buziek, G., Dykes, J., 2001. Representation with cartographic visualization. Cartography and Geographic Information Science 28 (1), 13–28.
This paper considers the role and potential of map displays, including the visual representation of distinct types of data. The authors discuss the form and design of maps, along with the formats in which data can be displayed. Details of this sort will help us consider a variety of effective approaches when designing our user interfaces.