For over two decades user-centric methods and techniques have been proposed to assist the production of usable, useful, and desirable software products. Despite these approaches, usability problems are still identified in finished software products creating problems at systems acceptance, rework and impacting end user experience. Part of the reason for these continuing problems is that user-centric approaches are not part of the traditional software engineering process. The literature review shows that software engineering and human-computer interaction are largely different communities. The aim of this thesis is to investigate whether the incorporation of user modelling and usability modelling into software requirements specifications would improve design quality and usability of software products. This research study used a Design Science dominant mixed research methodology consisting of case study and action research for creating, analysing and evaluating artefacts for improving the effectiveness of user-centred design and usability of software artefacts. Using the functional specification of an existing system in a government agency, ten designers created screen and interaction designs. The specification was then enhanced with usability specifications and the designers redeveloped their designs in the light of the enhanced specification. Both designs were subject to pre-defined usability tests and designers described their design experience as they worked. The results of the research demonstrated that enhancing traditional software requirements specifications with additional specifications of user modelling and usability modelling made a positive difference to both designer perception as well as design quality of user interface artefacts. The theoretical and practical values of these findings are explored.
|Date of Award||2008|
|Supervisor||Craig McDonald (Supervisor) & Penny Collings (Supervisor)|