'Paper' Prototypes of Upcoming Features

One means of developing software more efficiently is to present intended users with pictorial descriptions, mock-ups, or other preliminary 'prototypes' of the feature to be developed, get their feedback on that prototype, revise the prototype in light of their comments, and then show the new prototype to users again for further feedback and revision. In usability testing terms, this is called 'rapid prototyping', and 'paper prototypes' are termed such as they often start off as paper drawings, or equally lo-fidelity media (such as the pdf, ppt, and html versions below).

Prototypes developed by the BioCoRE Evaluation Program are presented below. Each prototype has already been the subject of usability testing by the evaluators and BioCoRE staff. Members of the biomedical community are invited to submit their own comments on the prototypes to the BioCoRE team at biocore@ks.uiuc.edu. Please be specific as to which prototype you are examining, and which part of that prototype is the focus of your comments.


  • Job Monitoring Prototype (pdf)(ppt) - The purpose of this tool is to help users monitor the progress of jobs submitted to computer systems via BioCoRE. Users can choose options to produce small or large graphs of job progress, as well as view a table of raw data.
  • Job Submission Tool (html) - Helps users to submit jobs to computer systems, including new jobs, jobs based on a previously submitted job, jobs based on jobs that havent' completed yet, jobs based on prior jobs that differ only in content of input files, and to restart stopped jobs. The tool also provides various ways of viewing job data.
  • Presentation Notebook (pdf)(ppt) - An electronic notebook meant to help users present information to other project members. Pages are layed out using tables, and then content is added to table sections via a number of default or user-selected editors.
  • File Management Tool (html) - While the Webdav interface already provides BioCoRE users with useful file management options, the File Management Tool provides an easy-to-use web interface for adding, deleting, and moving single and multiple files, as well as creating directories and making notes about files.
  • VMD Saved States Tool (ppt) - A tool that ties together the Visual Molecular Dynamics (VMD) program with BioCoRE. Users can save a particular orientation of a molecule in VMD, then others using the saved states tool can open that same orientation at their location. The numbers on the prototype are used with the questions on this prototype evaluation form (Word file).
Suggestions for Reviewing the Prototypes:

Usability engineering provides many methods useful for reviewing software, but one of the most parsimonious and easy to use methods for analyzing interfaces (as represented by the prototypes) is heuristic evaluation as described by Jakob Nielsen's usability website. In this method, ten general principles for effective user interface design by Nielsen are applied by a group of users/experts to an interface. Reading over Nielsen's ten principles and/or this more detailed description of the principles may help you review the prototypes.

For those prototypes with downloadable files, you may wish to add your comments there and send the files back to the development team at biocore@ks.uiuc.edu.