Usability evaluation for human-computer interaction (HCI)

Abstract: Computer systems are becoming more and more complicated, powerful, and mysterious, but if the systems is not easy to learn nor easy to use, they will be creating problems to the users, particularly to the novices. As the use of computers in the society from day to day is widespread, by more and more ordinary people, the operation of the systems should be simple enough to really help them but not puzzle them. In order to develop a usable (i.e., easy to learn and easy to use) computer system and utilise the system to its full capabilities, considerations of human factors aspects in the designs of both hardware and software of computer systems are of vital importance. This leads to increasingly emphasis in usability of computer systems in recent years by many researchers, computer system developers and manufacturers. Probably, there is far more usability knowledge yet to be explored but the needs of usability evaluation are immediate. This thesis is focused on human factors issues of the computer technology - the evaluation of usability for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) It starts with an overview on HCI research, the ideas of user-friendliness / usability, and the design strategies. Usability evaluation approaches am compared and fundamental usability factors are discussed, followed by the reports of the author's case studies. Based on the development trend of computer systems and our findings, it is suggested that more efforts should be made to the early considerations of usability in the system development life cycles. To help designers to do selfevaluation of their systems at early development stage, the Do-it-yourself Usability Evaluation (DUE) approach is developed and recommended. Further studies are also suggested. With the on-going and future development of multimedia, broadband network communications, computer supported cooperative work, and system integration, usability design is inevitable and has to be considered in time. This work is expected to be beneficial for computer system developers and manufacturers who would like to produce high user satisfactory products for their users. It is also useful for users who would like to have enjoyable experience with easy-to-learn and easy-to-use computer systems as well as maximize their performance.

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