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A Usability Evaluation Framework for Web Mashup Makers for End-users

donderdag, 22 maart, 2012 - 16:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculteit: Science and Bio-engineering Sciences
Wael Al Sarraj

Currently, more than two billions people access the Web for various purposes. The
majority are people without programming or modelling background. Part of these
people (called end-users) also likes to create their own Web applications to meet their
daily needs. Mashup Makers are tools to create such end-user’s Web applications. As
such, Mashup Makers could become the dominant environment for end-user
development of Web applications. Existing Mashup Makers promise that creating a
Web Mashup is very easy and just a matter of a few mouse clicks. However, there is
no evidence that this is indeed the case. On the contrary, research has already revealed
usability problems with Mashup Makers.

Therefore, this thesis concentrates on the usability of Mashup Makers as development
environments for Web applications for end-users. Usability is a key issue for the
success of software artifacts, and especially if the artifacts are intended for nontechnical
users. Therefore, we target the achievement of a consolidated approach,
model, and framework for the evaluation of the usability of Mashup Makers for endusers.
Such a framework will not only allow evaluating the usability of existing
Mashup Makers, but it will also provide key issues concerning usability (i.e. usability
impact factors) that developers of Mashup Makers and of other future end-user
development tools can take into consideration when developing new tools.

To come to such a framework, first two initial experimental studies, a pilot study and
a user experiment, have been performed. These experiments revealed that existing
usability problems could be the basis for deriving usability impact factors and
afterwards deriving a conceptual evaluation model and evaluation framework.

Both the pilot study and the user experiment were designed to evaluate a variety of
Mashup Makers from different usability perspectives. The literature investigation of
the usability of Mashup Makers, as well as the results (findings) of both experiments
suggested that the usability of Mashup Makers for end-users is affected by three main
aspects: the user interface aspect, the functional aspect, and the user interaction aspect.
This suggests that evaluating the usability of Mashup Makers should depend on the
evaluation of those three main aspects, resulting into three types of impact factors
(indicators). Those impact factors were refined using more detailed evaluation criteria
and subsequently the criteria are refined using metrics that link to raw usability data.

A conceptual model of usability factors of Mashup Makers has been developed. This
conceptual model reflects the conceptual approach taken and identifies the main
aspects (indicators) of the usability evaluation of Mashup Makers for end-users.
Furthermore, a usability evaluation framework has also been devised. As already
indicated, this usability evaluation framework can be used to guide usability
practitioners in the evaluation of Mashup Makers, as well as designers of new enduser
tools. Experts in the domain have evaluated the proposed framework using an
experimental study.