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International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 22

Editors:Julie A. Jacko; Gavriel Salvendy; Steven J. Landry
Publisher:Ablex Publishing Corporation
Standard No:ISSN 1044-7318
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IJHCI 2007 Volume 22 Issue 1/2
  2. IJHCI 2007 Volume 22 Issue 3

IJHCI 2007 Volume 22 Issue 1/2

Editorial: In Use, In Situ: Extending Field Research Methods BIBFull-Text 1-6
  Bob Fields; Paola Amaldi; William Wong; Satinder Gill
Studying Usability In Sitro: Simulating Real World Phenomena in Controlled Environments BIBAFull-Text 7-36
  Jesper Kjeldskov; Mikael B. Skov
Increased complexity of organizations and emerging technologies poses new and difficult challenges for the evaluation of software systems. Several years of research have proven that usability evaluations are invaluable tools for ensuring the quality of software technologies, but the increased complexity of technology requires new ways of understanding and evaluating the quality of software systems. This article explores limitations, challenges, and opportunities for studying mobile technologies "in use, in situ;" in laboratories (in vitro); and in controlled high-fidelity simulations of the real world. The latter condition is called "in sitro". This report comes from 2 different case studies of evaluating the usability of mobile systems within these 3 different conditions. Results show that it is possible to recreate and simulate significant elements of intended future use situations in laboratory settings and thereby increase the level of realism and maintain a high level of control. In fact, the in sitro condition was able to identify most of the same usability problems as found in the other conditions. However, the in situ evaluation proved to provide a level of realism that is difficult to achieve in laboratory environments.
Drivers Using Mobile Phones in Traffic: An Ethnographic Study of Interactional Adaptation BIBAFull-Text 37-58
  M. Esbjornsson; O. Juhlin; A. Weilenmann
Mobile phone use in cars is a highly debated issue. Legislation and policy discussions flourish in many countries and coincide with an increased effort in design of new in-car technologies. The studies that influence policy and design decisions use experimental approaches and are based on a cognitive perspective. This article discusses why this is a problematic approach. Further, the article provides data and initial results from an ethnographic study of mobile phone use in traffic, where the aim is to investigate the "interactional adaptation" by which the driver fit the involvement with the phone with driving and vice versa. By taking part of drivers' daily work and video recording their activities of driving and handling the mobile phone, details are revealed that could not be found in experimental studies with a constructed setup. The article ends with a discussion of the benefits of this method and how it can be developed further.
Cognitive Artifacts in Support of Medical Shift Handover: An In Use, In Situ Evaluation BIBAFull-Text 59-80
  Stephanie Wilson; Julia Galliers; James Fone
Technologies introduced to support complex and critical work practices merit rigorous and effective evaluation. However, evaluation strategies often fall short of evaluating real use by practitioners in the workplace and thereby miss an opportunity to gauge the true impact of the technology on the work. This article reports an in use, in situ evaluation of 2 cognitive artifacts that support the everyday work of handover in a healthcare setting. The evaluation drew inspiration from the theoretical viewpoint offered by distributed cognition, focusing on the information content, representational media, and context of use of the artifacts. The article discusses how this approach led to insights about the artifacts and their support of the work that could not have been obtained with more traditional evaluation techniques. Specifically, the argument is made that the ubiquitous approach of user testing with its reliance on think-alouds and observations of interaction is inadequate in this context and set an initial agenda for issues that should be addressed by in use, in situ evaluations.
Contextual Method for the Redesign of Existing Software Products BIBAFull-Text 81-101
  Rachel Jones; Natasa Milic-Frayling; Kerry Rodden; Alan Blackwell
This article is concerned with the problem of improving software products and investigates how to base that process on solid empirical foundations. Our key contribution is a contextual method that provides a means of identifying new features to support discovered and currently unsupported ways of working and a means of evaluating the usefulness of proposed features. Standard methods of discovery and evaluation, such as interviews and usability testing, gather some of the necessary data but fall short of covering important aspects. The shortcomings of these approaches are overcome by applying an integrated and iterative method for collecting and interpreting data about product usage in context. This article demonstrates its effectiveness when applied to the discovery and evaluation of new features for standard Web clients.
Conducting In Situ Evaluations for and With Ubiquitous Computing Technologies BIBAFull-Text 103-118
  Sunny Consolvo; Beverly Harrison; Ian Smith; Mike Y. Chen; Katherine Everitt; Jon Froehlich; James A. Landay
To evaluate ubiquitous computing technologies, which may be embedded in the environment, embedded in objects, worn, or carried by the user throughout everyday life, it is essential to use methods that accommodate the often unpredictable, real-world environments in which the technologies are used. This article discusses how we have adapted and applied traditional methods from psychology and human-computer interaction, such as Wizard of Oz and Experience Sampling, to be more amenable to the in situ evaluations of ubiquitous computing applications, particularly in the early stages of design. The way that ubiquitous computing technologies can facilitate the in situ collection of self-report data is also discussed. Although the focus is on ubiquitous computing applications and tools for their assessment, it is believed that the in situ evaluation tools that are proposed will be generally useful for field trials of other technology, applications, or formative studies that are concerned with collecting data in situ.
Electronic Furniture for the Curious Home: Assessing Ludic Designs in the Field BIBAFull-Text 119-152
  William Gaver; John Bowers; Andrew Boucher; Andy Law; Sarah Pennington; Brendan Walker
This article describes field trials of 3 electronic furniture prototypes designed to encourage ludic engagement in the home. The Drift Table shows slowly scrolling aerial photography controlled by the weight of the objects on its surface. The History Tablecloth creates slowly growing "halos" around things left on it. The Key Table measures the force with which people put things on it and tilts a picture frame to indicate their mood. The pieces were loaned to different households for periods of 1 to 3 months. Because they were designed for user appropriation, a hypothesis-testing paradigm is inappropriate for evaluating their success. The focus instead was on gathering rich, multilayered accounts of people's experience through ethnographic observations and documentary videos. The results helped assess the particular designs, draw lessons for ludic design more generally, and reflect on field methods for evaluating open-ended designs.
An Approach to the Evaluation of Usefulness as a Social Construct Using Technological Frames BIBAFull-Text 153-172
  Jose Abdelnour Nocera; Lynne Dunckley; Helen Sharp
This article describes an investigation of the way usefulness of an information system is shaped by sociocultural factors in a work context. It presents technological frames as a conceptual tool that helps to understand usefulness from this point of view. It suggests that developers and users shape their experience of the usefulness of a system through these technological frames. This is illustrated with a qualitative study, in which developers' expectations of the usefulness of an enterprise resource planning system differed from those of users, who experienced the usefulness of the same system in diverse ways. Technological frames are proposed as an analysis framework for assessing how context and local culture shape the utility and usability of systems in situ, that is, once they are deployed to their actual contexts of use.
Modular or Integrated? -- An Activity Perspective for Designing and Evaluating Computer-Based Systems BIBAFull-Text 173-190
  Seth Chaiklin
A basic problem for human-computer interaction (HCI) design is to make products that contribute something valuable to existing practices. This article pursues the assumption that this goal will be better realized if one uses an integrated perspective to analyze the practice in which a computer-based system is used. The main intention of this article is to clarify some assumptions involved in different approaches to thinking about the relation between computer-based systems and practices and to discuss some aspects of the theory of activity that could assist in thinking about these problems. The first part of the article introduces the problem that all design and evaluation efforts in relation to computer-based systems must necessarily have a perspective about the relation between the system and the practice in which it is used. Two general perspectives -- modular and integrated -- about this relation are introduced and discussed. The second part of the article discusses the theory of activity as an example of an integrated perspective, emphasizing some aspects of the theory that can be useful for conceptualizing relations between a computer-based system and practice and commenting on some misunderstandings in the current HCI literature on the theory of activity. The article concludes that the main problem is not to establish the value of working with an integrated perspective but to have productive theoretical concepts that can support this approach to design and evaluation.

IJHCI 2007 Volume 22 Issue 3

The Effect of Rich Web Portal Design and Floating Animations on Visual Search BIBAFull-Text 195-216
  Pei-Luen Patrick Rau; Qin Gao; Jie Liu
Unlike most Web portals in the world, Chinese Web portals are characterized by a huge amount of information, excessive visual stimuli, and very long Web pages. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of such rich Web portal designs and floating animations on visual search, emphasizing a comparison between Chinese users and German users. Two experiments were conducted to test 2 proposed hypotheses. Experiment 1 studied the effect of Web portal design (rich and simple) on visual search performance (performance time, errors, and satisfaction) with both Chinese and German participants. Experiment 2 studied the effects of static animations (leaderboards, couplets, and large squares) and floating animations (moving down, moving up/down, and random movement) on visual search performance on Web portals. The dependent variables were the performance time, error, satisfaction, and animation recognition. The results indicated that participants using simple Web portals searched faster, made fewer errors, and were more satisfied than participants using rich Web portals. No significant differences were found between the performance time of Chinese participants and German participants. However, satisfaction of Chinese participants was found to be less influenced by the differences between simple and rich Web portal designs, compared with German participants. No significant differences were found in performance time and animation recognition between static animations and floating animations, which indicated that users are able to detect the pattern of animation movements and were able to avoid floating animations as well as static animations. People searching pages with randomly floating animations were found to use significantly more time compared with those searching pages with no animations. Furthermore, users' satisfaction for pages with randomly floating animations, moving down animations, and moving up/down animations was significantly lower than for pages with no animations. Implications for designers and for future research are discussed.
Work-Domain Experts as Evaluators: Usability Inspection of Domain-Specific Work-Support Systems BIBAFull-Text 217-245
  Asbjorn Folstad Asbjorn Folstad
Can work-domain experts generate high-impact evaluation results when used as evaluators in usability inspections of domain-specific work-support systems? This study investigated this question empirically. Three applications were evaluated with group-based expert walkthroughs. The walkthroughs were conducted under 2 conditions -- with either work-domain experts or usability experts as evaluators. The condition with usability experts served as the background on which to evaluate the performance and impact of the condition with work-domain experts. The work-domain experts identified a smaller number of items (user problem and/or design suggestion) than the usability experts. However, the items identified by the work-domain experts were on average classified as more severe, and the developers (groups or organizations carrying out subsequent development) gave higher priority to items identified by work-domain experts. As a consequence of the higher severity classification and priority given to the work-domain experts' items, it was concluded that work-domain experts may indeed produce high-impact evaluation results when used as evaluators in a usability inspection. The conclusion opens up exciting method development possibilities in the area of usability inspection methods. The study's research design also represents a fresh research approach to the evaluation of usability evaluation methods, utilizing the impact of the evaluation results in the subsequent development process as an evaluation criterion.
What Frustrates Screen Reader Users on the Web: A Study of 100 Blind Users BIBAFull-Text 247-269
  Jonathan Lazar; Aaron Allen; Jason Kleinman; Chris Malarkey
In previous research, the computer frustrations of student and workplace users have been documented. However, the challenges faced by blind users on the Web have not been previously examined. In this study, 100 blind users, using time diaries, recorded their frustrations using the Web. The top causes of frustration reported were (a) page layout causing confusing screen reader feedback; (b) conflict between screen reader and application; (c) poorly designed/unlabeled forms; (d) no alt text for pictures; and (e) 3-way tie between misleading links, inaccessible PDF, and a screen reader crash. Most of the causes of frustration, such as inappropriate form and graphic labels and confusing page layout, are relatively simple to solve if Webmasters and Web designers focus on this effort. In addition, the more technically challenging frustrations, such as screen reader crashes and conflicts, need to be addressed by the screen reader developers. Blind users in this study were likely to repeatedly attempt to solve a frustration, not give up, and not reboot the computer. In this study, the blind users reported losing, on average, 30.4% of time due to these frustrating situations. Implications for Web developers, screen reader developers, and screen reader users are discussed in this article.
Optimizing Heuristic Evaluation Process in E-Commerce: Use of the Taguchi Method BIBAFull-Text 271-287
  Chen Ling; Gavriel Salvendy
The heuristic evaluation method, a commonly used usability evaluation method, suffers from variability in evaluation results (Nielsen, 1993). Taguchi's quality-control method was applied to the heuristic evaluation process, and the robust condition of conducting heuristic evaluation that was insensitive to differences in an evaluator's cognitive styles was derived. Three control factors -- task type, heuristic set, and evaluation mode -- were used in the Taguchi analysis. The noise factor studied was the evaluator's cognitive style. The result of Taguchi analysis showed that if evaluators conducted the evaluations in pairs with the help of e-commerce-specific heuristics, the variability in the result caused by the noise factor was the minimum. The optimized evaluation process produced a 17.6% improvement in evaluation effectiveness over the traditional heuristic evaluation method (Nielsen, 1994) and reduced the variance among the participant's evaluation effectiveness at the same time.
BOOK REVIEW: Steve Love. Understanding Mobile Human -- Computer Interaction. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005, 203 pages BIBFull-Text 289-290
  Jennifer J. Ockerman