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Usability Evaluation Methods

Extracts from this document...


Human-Computer interaction


Table of Contentsimage01.png

 _        I

  _        I

Table of Contents        I

Abstract        1

Introduction        1

Part I: Analytical and Empirical Methods for Usability Evaluation        2

Usability Concept        2

Evaluating Usability        2

Analytical approach        2

Empirical Approach        3

Choosing Among Methods        3

Usability Testing _        4

Strengths        4

Weaknesses        6

Heuristic Evaluation        7

Strengths        8

Weaknesses        10

Part II: Heuristic Evaluation of the Usability of a Website        12

Findings        12

Selected Heuristics        13

Problems description        13

Problem severity, non conformed heuristic and reason for nonconformity        16

 Conclusion        18

References        18

Appendix _        18

Applied Heuristics        18

Snap shots of web site        21

  1. Abstract

Usability is becoming a weighting factor that determines the quality of finished software products (Abran et al., 2003). The increasing number of websites flooding the internet has created the awareness for usability of web applications. According to (Bevan, n.d), an organization only meets its needs when a website meets the needs of its intended users. However, designers most often than not take the end users for granted and assume a software product is easy to use so long as they and their colleagues can use it which is never likely so. (Sharp et al., 2007) identify that, users want interactive products that are effective, efficient, safe, satisfying to use and easy to learn. This is why it is imperative for designers to perform usability evaluation to ensure that software products developed are usable by their intended users and meets their needs.

  1. Introduction

The objective of this paper is achieved with the completion of two main tasks. The first task oversees a brief introduction to the concept of usability. Afterwards, the process of evaluating the usability of software products is discussed and its main approaches are identified. Each approach is then examined together with the criteria for selecting methods. Furthermore, the advantages and disadvantages for one evaluation method from each of the approaches is selected elaborated upon.

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  1. Time consuming

One of the factors that influence the choice of evaluation methods is how long it takes for results to be gathered. The laboratory nature of usability testing requires testing to be done one after the other. The sequential form of evaluation takes a long time to complete. Results gathered from the evaluation need to be analyzed afterwards adding more time to the duration of the total evaluation process. A comparison of methods by (Jeffries et al., 1991), in (Dumas and Redish, 1999) pointed out that, a heuristic evaluation session that consisted of four experts took 20 hours to complete whereas that with usability testing on the same system took 200 hours. Wolfgang Milszus also stresses this point in his research as it is seen that an evaluation session that took 19 days with heuristic method lasted 56 days with usability testing method (Milszus, 1999). Beyond all reasonable doubts it can be ascertained that usability testing is more time consuming as compared to other methods

  1. Heuristic Evaluation

It is sometimes difficult finding users fit for usability testing nonetheless the cost and time involved. In such cases, experts are the best available option adopted to produce feedback on the usability of a product. Experts are people who have strong background experience in HCI (Sharp et al., 2007). These experts perform inspections on interactive systems based on a set of guide lines they are provided with and identify problems users would have when using the system. They sometimes play the role of the users to achieve this task. The method of performing inspections on the system is referred to as heuristic evaluation and the guidelines used there in are the heuristics (Sharp et al., 2007, Mitchell, 2005)

According to (Te'eni et al., 2007)

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  1. Visibility of system status:

Inform users through appropriate feedback as to what is happening and within reasonable time.

  1. Match between system and real world:

Provide information in natural and logical order with simple language that users are familiar with ad can understand.

  1. User control and freedom:

Provide users with a clearly marked option to leave any unwanted state without further complications.

  1. Consistency and standards:

Use words, situations, or actions that are not be ambiguous, leaving users wondering or guessing. Website should follow standard conversions.

  1. Error prevention:

Present users with a confirmation option before they commit to any action. Errors should be prevented by checking users’ actions to prevent a problem before it occurs.  In an event of an error, users should be informed through good error messages.

  1. Recognition rather than recall:

Make actions, options and objects visible to reduce users’ memory load. Instructions for using features should be visible or easy to retrieve when needed.

  1. Flexibility and efficiency of use:

Be flexible enough to support activities of the experienced user and the novice user. It should be efficient at supporting the experienced user with accelerators and allow users to customize frequent actions.

  1. Aesthetic and minimalist design:

Ensure every aspect of information provided in dialogues is relevant in that particular context.

  1. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors:

Ensure error messages are precise at indicating problem, displayed in plain language rather than codes and suggest a solution that is useful and purposeful.

  1. Help and documentation:

Ensure the website provides some sort of help and documentation which should be easy to find and be precise at providing steps towards users.

  1. Snap shots of web site


Figure 1: Ghana Airports Homepage retrieve from (http://www.ghanaairports.com.gh/) on November 20


Figure 2: Snapshot of Ghana airlines page with problems identified


Figure 3: Error page on Ghana airways website


Figure 4: Snapshot of results from GTmetrix's analysis of Ghana airways page load time retrieved from http://gtmetrix.com/reports/www.ghanaairports.com.gh/hHayqsMq on November 20.

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