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Employees Experience Levels and the Relation to Usability in a Web Based Information System
Sunday, 9:30 - 10:00
Session Three

Mike Alexander
Employees Experience Levels and the Relation to Usability in a Web Based Information System
Mike Alexander, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin

This study compares employees' perceived and practical usability problems within a company's web-based information system, based on their levels of experience. The system is the means by which employees of the company and their customers configure alarm parameters and notification methods for remote equipment motoring devices, run reports of collected data, and manage system users and company contact information (see screen shots). The researchers sought to determine whether novice and advanced users identify different usability problems within the system, if advanced users are able to complete tasks correctly more often and more quickly than novice users, how users overcome the usability problems they encounter, and what differences there are between perceived and practical usability problems. A usability test was designed to collect data regarding users' problems finding and editing information within the system's current structure. Eighteen employees of the company were chosen to represent typical end-users. Each participant was asked to complete a specific list of tasks within the system, after which s/he was asked several questions regarding the system's usability.

The researchers found that expert users generally completed the tasks in less time than novices, while the number of tasks completed correctly and the number of usability problems reported did not differ significantly by experience level. A number of specific problems were identified by the participants, reflecting accepted usability principles. The results suggest that, by following user-centered design principles, such problems can be avoided in the coming redesign efforts, resulting in measurable improvements for users.

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