Saturday, December 09, 2006

iLiad and De Tijd eNewsPaper (4)

The release on usability indicates that there were a number of requests for improvements which have come to light.
- visible feedback, when an action has been taken;
- the icons have to be undertstandable internationally;
- it must be possible to change the keys of the virtual keyboard from qwerty to azerty;
- representation of photographs and graphics have to be improved;
- integration of a help-function.
Also the functioning of the devices has been tested. I guess that the researchers mean that they have looked how people handle the device. They do no say anything about the hidden place of the on/off button or the wi-fi button in the right hand corner, which can mistaken for the on/off knob. Also in the design the device is not square, as the top part is supposed to symbolise a physical page. In some cases, especially with PDFs, which were not the subject of the usability test, it looks like the PDF is projected skewed. I still miss a cover/flap as protection of the screen.

I have been unable to test a newspaper myself. I received two newspaper editions by mail, but have been unable to load them due to the file structure. I would have loved to see how the newspaper itself worked. How the interactions are performed such as leafing through the pages.

I like also to remind the readers of the fact that the device was only intended to represent a newspaper edition as is. There were no extras such as sound.


IBBT ePaper Project – Centre for Usability research (CUO)

The Centre for Usability Research was responsible for the testing, evaluating and improving the user
friendliness of the content and interface developed during the epaper project.

Usability is defined as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in specified context of use” (ISO 9241-11). Users have to be able to achieve their goals and required tasks easily and fast using the developed product. Different focal points can be defined in function of the evaluation, depending on the product. A few examples of these focal points are: Can the user find the right product? Do users like to work with the software? Can users recover from their mistakes? Do users understand the used terminology?

Usability evaluation is best situated as early as possible in the development phase of the product and has to be seen as an iterative process.

In the first stage of the evaluation a user and task analysis was conducted. The task analysis was supported by three pillars, the user (not only the newspaper reader, but also the advertisers), the tasks (e.g. reading, leafing through the newspaper, searching for information,…) en the environment (at home, on the road,…).

The main intentions were not only to acquire insight in the way tasks have to be executed, but also to define the complete set of tasks and subtasks. The user’s characteristics and the different environment factors were also taken into account.

User tests were conducted for the usability evaluation of the ePaper device. Not only the functioning of the prototype was evaluated, but also the personal experience of the test users. A few focal points were e.g. the mobile characteristic of the device, the organisation of the information, the level of difficulty of the data delivery, the attractiveness of the interface,…

Through the different test situations, interesting observations arose, a few examples given below. It is necessary that the user has visible feedback when an action has been taken, e.g. when a new screen is loading. This increases the user friendliness of the device, and the user’s feelings of frustration and confusion will decrease considerable. It is also very important that an indication is given of the life expectancy of the battery on the screen. The user has to have the feeling of complete control and knowledge on how full or empty the battery is. Unclear terminology also has a negative effect on the user. This results in frustration and doubt, which then will result in the fact that users will not utilize certain functionalities, because they are not clear. The used icons and labels on the buttons have to be unambiguously understandable, and the placement of the buttons on the device has to be logical. If the device is developed for international use and a keyboard is integrated in the interface, the user has to be able to choose to have the keyboard labelled in qwerty or azerty. The photo or graphic accompanying an article was too small, not very visible and disappeared when selecting the article. This was a real bottleneck for the users, and had a very negative effect on the surplus value of the device. The possibility of viewing the photo or graphic in detail has to be offered. A help functionality has to be integrated in the device, this because the user can try to solve their problems and answer any questions they have. These are a few observations and suggestions to increase the devices’ user friendliness, which is an important factor that is directly linked to the success of any new device.

Source: IBBT, 2006

Tags: iliad, irex, e-book, e-ink, e-reader, newspaper

RSS feed:

Blog Posting Number: 598

No comments: