Paolo Paolini , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Davide Bolchini , University of Italian Switzerland, Switzerland
Nicoletta Di Blas , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Session: 4.3 Systematic Usability Evaluation
This course will introduce the attendees to a methodology to evaluate usability of museum hypermedia (on-line and off-line) in a systematic and cost-effective way, to standardize the evaluation process and therefore to make it less expensive.
The methodology (named MILE) will be discussed by presenting its conceptual framework and by analyzing a large number of case-studies, based on commercial or research CD-ROM's and WWW sites. MILE differentiates the usability analysis in various "levels", in order to take into account different perspectives under which usability can be evaluated: from general interface (lay-out) properties to features that are specific to the hypermedia nature of the application (e.g., navigation and multimedia control features) to domain specific aspects (e.g., educational applications, digital archives, virtual exhibitions, etc.). MILE combines inspection methods (involving usability experts only) with empirical methods (involving end-users for experimental testing): it proposes a conceptual framework to drive inspection, based on the definition of abstract tasks, i.e., general patterns of the evaluation activities that have to be performed by experts during inspection; it exploits the output of inspection to drive empirical testing and to make it better focused. Finally, MILE provides a general method to measure usability and to weight evaluation results on the base of the actual requirements and priorities of the application stakeholders. After this course, participants will be able to critically analyze the quality of their hypermedia products, to detect more efficiently usability problems, and will have a more precise vocabulary to discuss usability issues and to articulate usability requirements.