A framework for evaluating the usability of mobile phones based on multi-level, hierarchical model of usability factors

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As a mobile phone has various advanced functionalities or features, usability issues are increasingly challenging. Due to the particular characteristics of a mobile phone, typical usability evaluation methods and heuristics, most of which are relevant to a software system, might not effectively be applied to a mobile phone. Another point to consider is that usability evaluation activities should help designers find usability problems easily and produce better design solutions. To support usability practitioners of the mobile phone industry, we propose a framework for evaluating the usability of a mobile phone, based on a multi-level, hierarchical model of usability factors, in an analytic way. The model was developed on the basis of a set of collected usability problems and our previous study on a conceptual framework for identifying usability impact factors. It has multi-abstraction levels, each of which considers the usability of a mobile phone from a particular perspective. As there are goal-means relationships between adjacent levels, a range of usability issues can be interpreted in a holistic as well as diagnostic way. Another advantage is that it supports two different types of evaluation approaches: task-based and interface-based. To support both evaluation approaches, we developed four sets of checklists, each of which is concerned, respectively, with task-based evaluation and three different interface types: Logical User Interface (LUI), Physical User Interface (PUI) and Graphical User Interface (GUI). The proposed framework specifies an approach to quantifying usability so that several usability aspects are collectively measured to give a single score with the use of the checklists, A small case study was conducted in order to examine the applicability of the framework and to identify the aspects of the framework to be improved. It showed that it could be a useful tool for evaluating the usability of a mobile phone. Based on the case study, we improved the framework in order that usability practitioners can use it more easily and consistently. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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INTERACTING WITH COMPUTERS, v.21, no.4, pp.263 - 275

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