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Journal of Usability Studies

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Animated Character Likeability Revisited: The Case of Interactive TV   (peer-reviewed)

Animated characters have been a popular research theme, but the respective desktop applications have not been well-received by end-users. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of an animated character for presenting information and navigating music videos within an interactive television (ITV) application. Information was displayed over music video clips with two alternative user interfaces: 1) semi-transparent information overlays, 2) an animated character. For this purpose, the differences between ITV and desktop computing motivated the adaptation of the traditional usability evaluation techniques. The evaluation revealed that users reported higher affective quality with the animated character user interface. Although the success of animated characters in desktop productivity applications has been limited, there is growing evidence that animated characters might be viable in a domestic environment for leisure activities, such as interactive TV.

Chorianopoulos, Konstantinos. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Design>Multimedia>Interactive>Video


Beyond Specifications: Towards a Practical Methodology for Evaluating Web Accessibility   (peer-reviewed)

The current set of tools and specifications for ensuring web accessibility require expert knowledge and often have a highly technical orientation, with the consequence that it is not very clear how, or even when, to make use of them. In an attempt to tackle this problem, this paper reviews the types of tools and specifications available and proposes a simple and practical methodology for web accessibility evaluation that demonstrates how these tools and specifications could be used. The proposed methodology proposes methods and processes for reaching and maintaining web accessibility, and consists of the following phases: (a) identification of user requirements and setting up of accessibility goals, (b) web accessibility evaluation and redesign process, and (c) establishment and follow-up of accessibility policy. Further, in order to illustrate step (b), an example of web accessibility evaluation is described, where the domain is contemporary scientific publishing web sites. The work presented in this paper reports on issues that need to be considered by human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers, interaction design practitioners, and usability professionals for inclusive web design and are complementary to web usability engineering.

Koutsabasis, Panayiotis, Evangelos Vlachogiannis and Jenny S. Darzentas. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Methods


Can Collaboration Help Redefine Usability?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

A collaborative knowledge space would provide great value to the usability community. In particular it would: Help define the field and give it a presence that provides professionals and the public with a single source for theoretical, practical and speculative information about usability; encourage the integration of research and practice; invite colleagues in related fields to participate and share their perspectives; serve as a platform to advance our understanding of collaboration and knowledge management tools. Most of the tools needed to implement a collaborative knowledge space are already available and there are a number of related activities already underway that could feed into this project. It would be a great deal of work but I believe it would also yield a great deal of benefit.

Kreitzberg, Charles B. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


Can Collaboration Help Redefine Usability?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

There are countless usability blogs, message boards and listservers. But to my knowledge, no one has attempted to integrate all this information into a single, collaborative knowledge space. I believe that creating such a knowledge space would be of immense benefit to the usability profession and would be a wonderful platform on which to refine our understanding of social computing and knowledge management.

Kreitzberg, Charles B. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Usability>Help


Case Study: Conducting Large-Scale Multi-User User Tests on the United Kingdom Air Defence Command and Control System   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

IBM was contracted to provide a new Air Defence Command and Control (ADCC) system for the Royal Air Force. The IBM Human Factors (HF) team was responsible for the design of the operations room, workstations and the graphical user interfaces. Because the project was safety-related, IBM had to produce a safety case. One aspect of the safety case was a demonstration of the operational effectiveness of the new system. This paper is an in-depth case study of the user testing that was carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system. Due to time constraints the HF team had to observe five participants working simultaneously. Further, to provide a realistic operational environment, up to twenty-eight operators were required for each test. The total effort for this activity was four person-years. The paper will detail the considerations, challenges and lessons learned in the creation and execution of these multi-user user tests.

Hey, Elliott. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Web Design


Clustering for Usability Participant Selection   (peer-reviewed)

User satisfaction and usefulness are measured using usability studies that involve real customers. Given the nature of software development and delivery, having to conduct usability studies can become a costly expense in the overall budget. A major part of this expense is the participant costs. Under this condition, it is desirable to reduce the number of participants without sacrificing the quality of the experiment. If a company could use a smaller participant pool and get the same results as the entire pool; this would result in significant savings. Given a participant pool of size N, is there a subset of N that would yield the same results as the entire population? This research addresses this question using a data-mining clustering tool called Applications Quest.

Gilbert, Juan E., Andrea Williams, and Cheryl D. Seals. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>Usability>Testing>Methods


The Combined Walkthrough: Measuring Behavioral, Affective, and Cognitive Information in Usability Testing   (peer-reviewed)

This paper describes an experiment in studying users’ behavior, emotions, and cognitive processes in single usability testing sessions using an experimental method called the combined walkthrough. The users’ behavior was studied using task times and completion rates, and emotions were studied using bipolar scales for experienced valence and arousal. Cognition was studied after each task by revisiting detected usability problems together with the users and applying an interactive method based on cognitive walkthrough to each usability problem. An interactive media application was tested with 16 participants using these methods. The results of the experiment showed that the developed methods were efficient in identifying usability problems and measuring the different aspects of interaction, which enabled the researchers to obtain a more multifaceted view of the users’ interaction with the system and the nature of the problems encountered.

Partala, Timo and Riitta Kangaskorte. Journal of Usability Studies (2009). Articles>Usability>Testing


A Commentary of “How To Specify the Participant Group Size for Usability Studies: A Practitioner’s Guide” by Macefield

Today, no usability conference seems to be complete without one or more heated debates on participant group sizes for usability studies (Bevan, 2003; Molich, Bachmann, Biesterfeldt, & Quesenbery, 2010). In this respect, Macefield’s recent article on group sizes for usability tests is timely (Macefield, 2009). However, when reading Macefield's article I found that a number of important issues were not addressed. With this critique I would like to draw the readers’ attention to some of these issues.

Molich, Rolf. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Usability>Methods


Review: Comments on: Selker, Rosenzweig, and Pandolfo (2006). "A Methodology for Testing Voting Systems"   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

In the article, 'A Methodology for Testing Voting Systems' (JUS, November 2006, pp7-21), Selker, Rosenzweig, and Pandolfo discuss their methodology for usability testing of voting systems. With so much at stake in the usability of our ballots and voting systems, we can only applaud any research in this field. There is little history of research in this area, so discussions of test protocols are especially valuable. Unfortunately, although this article sets out to compare 'the relative merit in realistic versus lab style experiments for testing voting technology,' it falls short of this goal. If their point is that real-world testing is important because real election environments add burdens that are not present in lab settings, this conclusion is not supported by any of the work described.

Quesenbery, Whitney, John Cugini, Dana E. Chisnell, Bill Killam and Janice C. 'Ginny' Redish. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>Reviews>Usability>Civic


Comparing Computer Versus Human Data Collection Methods for Public Usability Evaluations of a Tactile-Audio Display   (peer-reviewed)

We present a public usability study that provides preliminary results on the effectiveness of a universally designed system that conveys music and other sounds into tactile sensations. The system was displayed at a public science museum as part of a larger multimedia exhibit aimed at presenting a youths’ perspective on global warming and the environment. We compare two approaches to gathering user feedback about the system in a study that we conducted to assess user responses to the inclusion of a tactile display within the larger audio-visual exhibit; in one version, a human researcher administered the study and in the other version a touch screen computer was used to obtain responses. Both approaches were used to explore the public’s basic understanding of the tactile display within the context of the larger exhibit.

Karam, Maria, Carmen Branje, John-Patrick Udo, Frank Russo and Deborah I. Fels. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Audio


A Comparison of the Usability of a Laptop, Communicator, and Handheld Computer   (peer-reviewed)

The goal of this study was to examine the usability of a laptop, communicator, and handheld computer using test subjects and questionnaires. The study aimed to determine how user-friendly and ergonomically correct these devices are. The subjects (25) had 5 minutes to perform typing or calculation tests with each device. While the subjects performed the tasks, an observer monitored the subjects’ work posture. After the tasks were completed, the subjects completed questionnaires about the usability of each device Based on the subjects’ experiences, the handheld computer and laptop had better ergonomic characteristics than the communicator. Subjects felt the highest amounts of stress in their neck while working on the laptop, subjects felt stress on their backs while working on the communicator, and they felt stress in their eyes while working on the handheld computer. Subjects performed the typing tasks best using the laptop. Our research suggests that companies developing mobile devices should consider ergonomic issues and the ergonomic differences between different types of mobile devices to further improve user satisfaction.

Suomalainen, Piia, Leena Korpinen and Rauno Pääkkönen . Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Usability>Ubiquitous Computing


Creating Effective Decision Aids for Complex Tasks   (peer-reviewed)

Engineering design tasks require designers to continually compare, weigh, and choose among many complex alternatives. The quality of these selection decisions directly impacts the quality, cost, and safety of the final product. Because of the high degree of uncertainty in predicting the performance of alternatives while they are still just sketches on the drawing board, and the high cost of poor choices, mathematical decision methods incorporating uncertainty have long held much appeal for product designers, at least from a theoretical standpoint.

Clarke Hayes, Caroline and Farnaz Akhavi. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Usability>Knowledge Management>EPSS


Culture and Usability Evaluation: The Effects of Culture in Structured Interviews   (peer-reviewed)

A major impediment in global user interface development is that there is inadequate empirical evidence for the effects of culture in the usability engineering methods used for developing these global user interfaces. This paper presents a controlled study investigating the effects of culture on the effectiveness of structured interviews in international usability evaluation. The experiment consisted of a usability evaluation of a website with two independent groups of Indian participants. Each group had a different interviewer; one belonging to the Indian culture and the other to the Anglo-American culture. The results show that participants found more usability problems and made more suggestions to an interviewer who was a member of the same (Indian) culture than to the foreign (Anglo-American) interviewer. The results of the study empirically establish that culture significantly affects the efficacy of structured interviews during international user testing. The implications of this work for usability engineering are discussed.

Vatrapu, Ravi and Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Interviewing>Cultural Theory


Culture: Wanted? Alive or Dead?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Is culture dead as a topic of interest to usability and user-interface usability and design professionals? One European anthropologist/ethnographer wrote recently that 'culture is dead' and only of interest to people in the USA (who seemingly have little or no understanding of other cultures around the world). On the other hand, another (USA) usability/design professional recently stated that she thought cross-cultural issues were one of the most important and potent trends in product/service development. Who is right?

Marcus, Aaron. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Cultural Theory


Decision Models for Comparative Usability Evaluation of Mobile Phones Using the Mobile Phone Usability Questionnaire (MPUQ)   (peer-reviewed)

A comparative usability evaluation was performed using various subjective evaluation methods, including Mobile Phone Usability Questionnaire (MPUQ). Further, decision-making models using Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and multiple linear regression were developed and applied. Although the mean rankings of the four phones were not significantly different across the evaluation methods, there were variations across the methods in terms of the number of rank orderings, preference proportions, and methods to select their initial preference. Thus, this study provided a useful insight into how users make different decisions through different evaluation methods. Also, the result showed that answering a usability questionnaire affected a user's decision-making process for comparative evaluation.

Ryu, Young Sam, Kari Babski-Reeves, Tonya L. Smith-Jackson and Maury A. Nussbaum. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>Usability>Assessment>Surveys


Determining What Individual SUS Scores Mean: Adding an Adjective Rating Scale   (peer-reviewed)

The System Usability Scale (SUS) is an inexpensive, yet effective tool for assessing the usability of a product, including Web sites, cell phones, interactive voice response systems, TV applications, and more. It provides an easy-to-understand score from 0 (negative) to 100 (positive). While a 100-point scale is intuitive in many respects and allows for relative judgments, information describing how the numeric score translates into an absolute judgment of usability is not known. To help answer that question, a seven-point adjective-anchored Likert scale was added as an eleventh question to nearly 1,000 SUS surveys. Results show that the Likert scale scores correlate extremely well with the SUS scores (r=0.822). The addition of the adjective rating scale to the SUS may help practitioners interpret individual SUS scores and aid in explaining the results to non-human factors professionals.

Bangor, Aaron, Philip Kortum and James Miller. Journal of Usability Studies (2009). Articles>Usability>Assessment>Standards


Do Usability Expert Evaluation and Testing Provide Novel and Useful Data for Game Development?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

A case study was done to study whether usability expert evaluation and testing are suitable for game development. In the study, a computer game under development was first evaluated and then tested. Game developers were then asked to rate the findings and give other feedback about the methods used and the results gained. It was found that the usability expert evaluation and testing provided both novel and useful data for game development. Based on these and the other results it is argued that the usability expert evaluation and testing have considerable face validity in game development. In addition to the usefulness and face validity of the methods it was studied whether the usability experts participating in the game usability expert evaluation should be double experts. It was found that there was no significant difference in the number or the rated relevancy of the problem the gamer and non-gamer usability specialists found.

Laitinen, Sauli. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Testing>Methods


The Effect of Culture on Usability: Comparing the Perceptions and Performance of Taiwanese and North American MP3 Player Users   (peer-reviewed)

A study of how 23 Taiwanese and North American subjects use a consumer electronic product shows that culture strongly affects the usability of the product. Survey data shows that North American users had much lower levels of user satisfaction and perceptions of effectiveness and efficiency than Taiwanese users. On the other hand, results on performance were unclear, indicating similar levels of effectiveness for both cultural groups and conflicting results on levels of efficiency.

Wallace, Steve and Hsiao-Cheng Yu. Journal of Usability Studies (2009). Articles>Usability>Assessment>International


Empirical Evaluation of a Popular Cellular Phone's Menu System: Theory Meets Practice   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

A usability assessment entailing a paper prototype was conducted to examine menu selection theories on a small screen device by determining the effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction of a popular cellular phone's menu system. Outcomes of this study suggest that users prefer a less extensive menu structure on a small screen device. The investigation also covered factors of category classification and item labeling influencing user performance in menu selection. Research findings suggest that proper modifications in these areas could significantly enhance the system's usability and demonstrate the validity of paper-prototyping which is capable of detecting significant differences in usability measures among various model designs.

Huang, Sheng-Cheng, I-Fan Chou and Randolph G. Bias. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>User Interface>Usability>User Centered Design


An Empirical Investigation of Color Temperature and Gender Effects on Web Aesthetics   (peer-reviewed)

Limited research exists on the relevance of hedonic dimensions of human-computer interaction to usability, with only a small set of this research being empirical in nature. Furthermore, previous research has obtained mixed support for gender differences regarding perceptions of attractiveness and usability in Web site design. This empirical research addresses the above gap by studying the effects of color temperature and gender on perceptions of Web site aesthetics.

Coursaris, Constantinos K., Sarah J. Sweirenga and Ethan Watrall. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics>Gender


Engaged Scholars, Thoughtful Practitioners: The Interdependence of Academics and Practitioners in User-Centered Design and Usability   (peer-reviewed)

In this essay I first explore the different dynamics of the worlds of academia and product development and how these differences affect the nature of the work we do. Then, I show why the world of practice needs an infusion of academic rigor that can only come from changes in the nature of academic research and the adoption of a more academic style of critical thinking in the world of practice.

Dray, Susan M. Journal of Usability Studies (2009). Articles>Usability>Industry and Academy


Examining the Order Effect of Website Navigation Menus With Eye Tracking   (peer-reviewed)

We analysed the eye-tracking data of 147 participants as they used a total of 15 separate website navigation menus to complete key activities. The hypotheses for this study were that (a) the psychological phenomenon of the order effect would manifest in that items at either end of a menu would be located more quickly than those in the middle and (b) that the items that were relevant to completing the user’s tasks would be located more quickly through peripheral visual identification of these items. Although items relevant to the user’s task were acquired 1.8 seconds faster on average, both of the hypotheses were rejected as no statistically significant patterns were found. It was concluded that each user was likely to have his or her own searching behaviour and this could be affected by other factors such as the graphic design of the menu.

DeWitt, Alex J. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Examining Users on News Provider Web Sites: A Review of Methodology   (peer-reviewed)

This project implemented and reviewed several methods to collect data about users' information seeking behavior on news provider Web sites. While browsing news sites, participants exhibited a tendency toward a breadth-first search approach where they used the home page or a search results page as a hub to which they returned and then linked to other pages. Generally, they browsed before using search. Information seeking patterns were consistent within-user but varied somewhat across users. Most behaviors were characterized as visually scanning with users spending much time scrolling.

Gibbs, William. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design


Extremely Rapid Usability Testing   (peer-reviewed)

The trade show booth on the exhibit floor of a conference is traditionally used for company representatives to sell their products and services. However, the trade booth environment also creates an opportunity, for it can give the development team easy access to many varied participants for usability testing. The question is can we adapt usability testing methods to work in such an environment? Extremely rapid usability testing (ERUT) does just this, where we deploy a combination of questionnaires, interviews, storyboarding, co-discovery, and usability testing in a trade show booth environment. We illustrate ERUT in actual use during a busy photographic trade show. It proved effective for actively gathering real-world user feedback in a rapid paced environment where time is of the essence.

Pawson, Mark and Saul Greenberg. Journal of Usability Studies (2009). Articles>Usability>Testing>Methods


From 0 to 365: My First Year as a Design Executive   (peer-reviewed)

As I reflect on my transition to the role of VP of Product Design, I know that for me, personally, it was an excellent decision. I definitely felt at the time that taking the job was somewhat of a risk as I was leaving behind a world I knew and found very rewarding, but I was ready for the next challenge in my career. I was very fortunate that I landed in an organization that fully supports the initiatives of the design team from the individual engineer to the CEO. I am rewarded by the increased responsibility and challenges that I face on a daily basis. I enjoy the increased accountability and visibility. I have learned a tremendous amount from the insight I have gained into a variety of aspects of the business that the position affords. The hours are long and there is always a fire drill or two, but I have learned to take it in stride. Seeing the growing impact that the design organization is having on the business makes all the hard work worthwhile. This is very fulfilling for me both professionally and personally.

Courage, Catherine. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Careers>Usability>User Experience>Case Studies



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