Ease of Use

8 Feb

A lot has been covered on the area of the end user and also the importance of ease of use and perceived usefulness, in particular by pm1083. However I disagree with his placing of importance on perceived usefulness in developing a framework. For a firm looking to evaluate the quality of an Information system, the user’s perceived usefulness should not play a factor as it is subjective and often, user perceived usage is very wrong to how useful a system really is. As well as that I fell that users can be easily swayed in their opinions. Perceived usefulness can be improved through in depth explanations of the benefits and quality of an IS, and user involement in implementation and if possible, design.  As discussed in the in class presentation, ease of use has taken a more central role in implementing an system successfully, and perceived usefulness is of less importance. This is discussed in “A design-oriented critique on technology acceptance models” by Antti Salovaara and Sakari Tamminen.

 

I agree with pm1083 however that ease of use should be included in a framework for measuring the quality of an IS. In the paper “Framework for Quality Metrics in Mobile-Wireless Information Systems” by Ruti Gafni, he highlights usability as a “quality quantification of an IS”. He divides usability into the following categories: understandability, learnability, operability and attractiveness (attractiveness may be similar to perceived usefulness). While the paper is more concerned with mobile wireless IS, I feel the same principles apply to usability for any IS. The following questions are just some of the questions that can be asked for a firm to evaluate IS usability (taken from the paper):

 

  • To what degree is the screen over-loaded and diminishes the application understandability?
  • Are there specific menus for each possible operation?
  • Are the buttons which operate each option clear enough?
  • Is the help function for tasks easy to find?
  • Is the application configurable according to user and device?
  • Do the input fields have default values or choices instead of textual input in order to minimize errors?
  • Does the system use location aware functions in order to minimize inputs?
  • Is the length and format of the outputs optimized to screen size?

 

Answering these questions can help firms grade the four categories mentioned above.

Quantifiable Category Score( out of 5) Weighed Score(importance to firm) Total Score
Understandability 2 0.3 0.6
Learnability 3 0.9 1.8
Operability 2 0.7 1.4
Attractiveness 5 0.9 4.5

 

Certain Firms will place differing importance on each quantifiable category, for eg. When there is a high number of untrained users of customers that will use a machine occasionally, understandability and operability will have more importance. Eg an ATM, users use it because they have too and will not use it regular enough to learn it, so there is low emphasis on attractiveness and learnability. Other firms may be using an IS for very detailed engineering, and learnability becomes more important.
For some firmsm usabilty may be central to thier business, eg. Facebook. for them it would be vital to score very high in the usability chart.

Jakob Neilsen, dubbed “then King of usability”, puts it simply, “Bad usability equals no customers.”

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