A new framework and learning tool to enhance the usability of software
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Due to technological developments, apps (mobile applications) and web-based applications are now used daily by millions of people worldwide. Accordingly, such applications need to be usable by all groups of users, regardless of individual attributes. Thus, software usability measurement is fundamental metric that needs to be evaluated in order to assess software efficiency, effectiveness, learnability and user satisfaction. Consequently, a new approach is required that both educates software novice developers in software evaluation methods and promotes the use of usability evaluation methods to create usable products. This research devised a development framework and learning tool in order to enhance overall awareness and assessment practice. Furthermore, the research also focuses on Usability Evaluation Methods (UEMs) with the objective of providing novice developers with support when making decisions pertaining to the use of learning resources. The proposed development framework and its associated learning resources is titled dEv (Design Evaluation), and it has been devised in order to address the three key challenges identified in the literature review and reinforce by the studies. These three challenges are: (i) the involvement of users in the initial phases of the development process, (ii) the mindset and perspectives of novice developers with regard to various issues as a result of their lack of UEMs or the provision of too many, and (iii) the general lack of knowledge and awareness concerning the importance and value of UEMs. The learning tool was created in line with investigation studies, feedback and novice developers requirements in the initial stages of the development process. An iterative experimental approach was adapted which incorporated the use of interviews and survey-based questionnaires. It was geared towards analysing the framework, learning tool and their various effects. Two subsequent studies were carried out in order to test the approach adopted and provide insight into its results. The studies also reported on their ability to affect novice developers using assessment methods and also to overcome a number of the difficulties associated with UEM application. This suggested approach is valuable when considering two different contributions: primarily, the integration of software evaluation and software development in the dEv framework, which encourages professionals to evaluate across all phases of the development; secondly, it is able to enhance developer awareness and insight with regard to evaluation techniques and their application.
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