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Usability measures the quality of the interface in terms of satisfaction, effectiveness and efficiency with which, the users of the software can perform different tasks with the help of a tool. Evaluation of usability of software is an important part of the system development…
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Software Usability al Affiliation(s Software Usability Usability measures the quality of the interface in terms of satisfaction, effectiveness and efficiency with which, the users of the software can perform different tasks with the help of a tool. Evaluation of usability of software is an important part of the system development process. There is variety of methods and factors that help in the process. Historically, software usability has its basis on three factors namely; semantics, features, and operations. Semantics defines the ease of use. Features include the presence of interfaces such as icons, windows, pointing devices or menus. Operations tell the performance levels of the software for certain tasks.
A breakthrough in software usability evaluation came from Shackel (1991). It defines usability as the capability of artifact in terms of human functions. These human functions will enable the softwares easy, satisfactory and effective use by its users. It places the usability to the level of interaction between artifact and users. When the criteria of software usability are set, the approach supports the process of evaluation and the interpretation of results. Usability thus is not limited to features of the interface, but it is a measure of "interaction" between human and computer. There exist different methods to evaluate software usability. It depends on time, labor, evaluator – experience, development stage, preference, and facilities. In wider terms, the distinction in evaluation methods is user based, expert-based and model-based. The user-based methods are more realistic in estimation of usability and give a very concise record of significant problems. But this method is time-consuming and expensive for larger samples. The expert based models are cheap and fast. But here, there is a risk of overestimation of the actual number of problems. The model-based method gives a laborious estimate of the standard of software usability. The main disadvantage is it has a limited applicability in task. Hence, after that HCI came into existence. The four approaches are
HCI Software Usability
Eberts (1994) describes the user interface designs to be user-friendly, intuitive and efficient. He defines four approaches to HCI. Anthropomorphic, Cognitive, Empirical and predictive. The anthropomorphic way designs a user interface that possesses human-like qualities, for example, in interface error messaging, avatars or sounds. The cognitive approach considers the potential of human brain and senses, in order to develop the interface to support the user. A metaphoric design is one such example that enables a flawless system. In HCI, the empirical approach helps to examine and compare the use of designs in concepts. Predictive approach in HCI helps to examine the individual components.
Software HCI gives insights with reference to user interface with centered designs and development in the social influences. The standard ISO 13407 aims at the HCI process of design systems. This standard covers areas like planning the usability process, incorporating designs in the system development and assessing the welfares of the design. Good user interface have huge implications for proper accessibility. Apart from accessibility, the interface must also be usable and useful. Additionally, people prefer a more enjoyable and interactive interface. The human computer interface systems in Software usability create a bridge between Engineering and Natural Sciences. HCI has a powerful potential to help in making technology more accessible, usable, useful, enjoyable and beneficial to everybody. The most effective tact is to try to amalgamate these techniques in the development and to release a better product into the world, and better interfacing between human and computer will make lives easier and more comfortable.
Landauer, T. K. (1995) The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity. The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
Eberts, R. E. (1994). User interface design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Shackel, B. (1991) Usability - Context, Framework, Definition, Design, and Evaluation. In B. Shackel and S. Richardson (eds.) Human Factors for Informatics Usability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 21-38. Read More
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