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Title: Utilising a human centered design (HCD) approach for enhancing government systems in Saudi Arabia through usability evaluation from the user's perspective
Authors: Baglin, Faisal
Advisors: Love, S
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: When aiming to successfully improve an existing software system, usability evaluation methods (UEMs) and user experience (UX) are key aspects for consideration. The UEMs identify the level of usability of the system through assessing: (1) the extent to which it is easy and pleasant for the user (Cockton, 2012); (2) the specific effects of the system user interface (UI) on the user; and (3) any other problems that the system may have (Dix et al., 2007). On the other hand, considering UX places usability in context through providing a comprehensive understanding of the users' perceptions during and after their interactions with a specific system (Kuniavsky, 2010). Undoubtedly, in most countries, there is a wide range of services, activities, and procedures that are supported by government systems (Buie and Murray, 2012). However, because of the lack of consideration of the usability requirements in addition to the limited attention given to the involvement of UX in system development (Downey and Rosales, 2011), a significant number of these government systems were designed without taking into account human-centred design guidelines (Johnson et al, 2005). Consequently, the success of these systems varies widely in terms of their usability (Downey and Rosales, 2011). In some cases, they fail to provide effective, efficient, and generally positive UX to people who interact with government systems from the outside, such as the citizens, or for those who work for the government on the inside, such as the employees (Buie and Murray, 2012). The research problem in this thesis addresses how UEMs, techniques, and tools can be integrated and developed to support the redesigning and enhancement of current government systems (Legacy Systems) in a developing country. More specifically, the main aim of the research work reported in this thesis is to develop a way of proposing appropriate methods for evaluating the usability of the current internal systems in the Saudi government context. In this regard, three studies were conducted to achieve the aims of the research. As a general approach for the thesis, Human-Centred Design (HCD) was adopted due to the fact that HCD is concerned with the integration of the users’ opinions into the software development process in order to achieve a usable system (Spencer, 2004). In addition, a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative approaches was used in all of the studies. In the development of this project, the first study was aimed at evaluating the usability of a current internal system of a governmental organization in Saudi Arabia, the Visa Issuance (VI) system, from the actual users’ points of view in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the system. A usability evaluation query technique was employed for collecting data via a survey method by targeting 135 participants who were the users of the VI system. The survey used both qualitative and quantitative instruments, namely a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. In the second study, an experimental approach was applied and a comparative usability test was conducted between the current VI system and a suggested prototype design which was developed based on the outcomes of the usability evaluation in the first study. The results of this study showed improvements in the quality of the system (usefulness), the information, and the interface. After analysing these results, the iterative method was used in the third study to redesign the suggested prototype. Therefore, another comparison test was conducted between the two versions of the prototype and the results indicated enhancement in the UX by using the new version. This research developed a methodological framework for the usability evaluation of the current government systems which involved query techniques and user testing methods. It was formulated by combining different methods for guiding the redesign process, and testing was conducted throughout the entire research project. The results indicated that the involvement of query techniques as a preliminary step provides a quick, simple, and cost-effective way of identifying the usability problem areas in the VI government system. Furthermore, the usefulness of this developed framework could be beneficial in raising awareness and acceptance of the established methods among governmental organisations in other contexts in order to enhance their software systems effectively and improve the UX. It is hoped that this awareness of the fundamental usability methods could lead to developments in Information Communication Technology (ICT) for all communities (Holzinger, 2005) so that the advantages of making certain improvements could be shared with others. In addition, the outcomes of the two experiments conducted in this research provide some lessons that are considered valuable in the usability testing domain. In this regard, the results are expected to assist and support the usability practitioners and system developers who are concerned with improving the usability of existing internal software systems, and in planning and conducting usability testing sessions in government organisations through utilising such guidance about UEMs.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Theses

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