Usability Evaluation of a Web Design Interface

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Usability Evaluation of a Web Design Interface

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http://ojni.org/602/usability.htm

Usability Evaluation of a Web Design Interface
by
Karen D. King, RDH, MHeD and Dr. Rosalee Seymour, Associate Professor, EdD, RN
Abstract
This report presents the results of a usability evaluation of the Web design interfac e for an instructional unit prototype on Herpes Simplex and Apthous Ulcers. Usability is defin ed as the measure of a product’s potential to accomplish the goals of its users (Dumas, 1999). The unit and the Web interface were designed to deliver instruction to undergraduate dental hygien e students. The three randomly selected users/subjects for this evaluation were from an undergrad uate class of dental hygiene students. This report describes the usability evaluation planning, im plementation, data analysis methods, and results. The results demonstrate that conducting usabilit y evaluations help to determine the organization and ease of navigation of an interactive, Web-base d, instructional unit.

Usability Evaluation of a Web Design Interface
Computers are used to educate, in many instances, with conventional interfaces that i nclude those used to create documents and manipulate data. A Web interface, which was tested in t his case, is very different from a conventional one. The Web is a domain that must be instantly u sable and support many communication modalities. Web designers must focus on the computer user whose goal is to gather information rather than to create documents or manipulate data (Raj ani & Rosenberg, 1999).

It is critical that the accomplishment of the users’ goals be the primary objective o f a usability evaluation (UE) of Web site interface design. Users will not be able to access correc t pages unless the constructed site reflects their needs and contains a navigation scheme that allow s easy access to the desired information (Nielsen, 2000a). In Web interface designs the properties of color, sound, navigation, and placement must be considered from a different perspective than with c onventional interfaces.

Usability evaluation purposes. The faculty of the Department of Dental Hygiene, where this evaluation was conducted developed an oral pathology course for undergraduate student s in dental hygiene and wanted to deliver it via a Web design interface. The instructional unit o n Herpes Simplex and Apthous Ulcers is the prototype for nine instructional units to follow. It was anticipated that conducting a UE, on the prototype instructional unit Web interface, would enable identification of any usability issues or problems relevant to this Web interface before the constru ction of subsequent instructional units.

In keeping with Rajani and Rosenberg (1999), the primary purposes of this UE were agr eed upon as: 1) to determine if the Web-based Herpes Simplex and Apthous ulcer prototype is easy t o navigate

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and meets the goals of undergraduate dental hygiene students, 2) to use any identifie d problems to revise this unit, 3) to make recommendations on the construction of additional units based on this prototype, 4) to save faculty time, and 5) to insure students’ goals will be met in t he Web interface format.

The Literature
Usability evaluations include a range of methods for identifying how users actually i nteract with a prototype or completed Web site. Planning of a UE begins with a statement of the ove rall purpose and objectives for the investigation and a clear identification of the problem (Hom, 1999; Instone, 1999). In a typical approach a UE is conducted while users perform tasks and a modera tor watches, listens, and records for later data analyzes and reporting of results (Fichter, 2000) .The next steps are the identification of the subject/users and the design of the study. Graham (2000) describes many ways to get feedback about the usability of a Web...
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