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Using a contingent heuristic approach and eye gaze tracking for the usability evaluation of web sites

Piyasirivej, Pilun (2005) Using a contingent heuristic approach and eye gaze tracking for the usability evaluation of web sites. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis describes a research study in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), specifically usability evaluation. The research investigated ways to optimise the usability of Web sites. It specifically compared Flash and HTML versions of several different types of Web sites. The study commenced with a literature review regarding the process of usability evaluation of Web sites. Various usability evaluation methods and techniques were explored, and two emerging techniques were chosen for further investigation: (1) a contingent heuristic approach; and (2) eye gaze tracking. In order to confirm that these two techniques can be used effectively for Web site usability evaluations, two experiments were conducted to evaluate the usability of Web sites. The first experiment utilised an online questionnaire derived from the Website Usability Contingent Evaluation Tool (WUCET), which was based on the contingent heuristic approach. The second experiment involved eye gaze tracking with the faceLAB system, while participants interacted with Web sites of different types. Both experiments utilised Flash and HTML versions of the same set of Web sites. By analysing data collected from the experiments, comparisons between the usability of Flash and HTML versions were made. The results from quantitative and qualitative analyses of survey responses suggested that Flash version of Web sites, in general, provided higher usability than HTML version of Web sites, but eye gaze tracking data analyses showed no significant difference between the two versions. However, analyses of the eye tracking data were useful for improving understanding of the ways in which users interact with different versions of the Web sites. In addition, other influential factors that could affect the perceived usability of the Web sites, such as user's gender and previous experience with computers and the Web, were also considered. The results of the experiments showed that in regard to Flash and HTML implementations of Web sites, there was a difference in Web site usability perception patterns between male and female users, and also between users with long-term computer/Web experience and users with short-term experience. In addition, a range of different types (purposes) of Web sites were utilised. In this study, selected Web sites fall into three broad categories according to their main purpose: (1) information; (2) entertainment; and (3) e-commerce. It was discovered that the type of Web sites also influenced the usability of Flash and HTML versions of Web sites, as perceived by users.

Publication Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Information Technology
Supervisor: Turk, Andrew and Sudweeks, Fay
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