Web usability refers to how easy one can use a web site (Storey et al. 2002).
According to (Martens 2003), web usability involves provision of web services involving three roles: service provider, service requester and service broker. The service provider implements the web service and publishes the content, the broker deals with the repository and allows service requester to find adequate service.
According to (Anon n.d.), usability refers to:
a. The ease with which people can learn how a system functions and its behaviour
b. The level of attainable productivity, once the user has learned the system.
c. The ease with which the user can remember the functionality of the system , so that the user can return to the system after a period of non-use but use the system without necessarily learning again how to use it.
d. Capability of the system to be free from errors and even be able to make it easy for users to recover from the errors.
e. The measure with which the user finds the system pleasant for use.
WEB USABILITY CRITERIA
1. Content Visibility
According to (Spool & Schroeder 2001) , for one to understand the structure of information space offered by the application and get oriented within hypertext, users must be able to identify the main conceptual classes of contents.
2. Ease of Content Access
Purdy (Purdy 2010) Suggests that once users have identified the main classes the application deals with, they must be given necessary tools for accessing the specific content they may be interested in.
IMPACT OF WEB USABILITY ON WEB DEVELOPMENT
1. Page Layout
According to (Nielsen 1999) ,as much as people are usually willing to scroll to read through web pages, if they can’t find what they need quickly, they are more likely to leave the page. Therefore most web pages or web sites are created using grid layout to make the site more usable.
2. Web usability also influences the colours used in a web site (Byerley & Chambers 2002) . Use of other colours as opposed to the standard colours may be confusing to the users of one’s web site e.g. instead of using blue for hyperlink, you decide to use pink. This may confuse the user as it may change the meaning for some users.
3. Web usability has also led to the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which gets the content displaying prominently and make the colours look good and also gives a perfect layout (Kurata 2002).
5. For the sole purpose of making web sites which will be accessible to the users irrespective of the browser they are using, use valid HTML is used by many web programmers as by using only those elements that will work globally (Horton 2013).
Anon Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen. About.com Web Design / HTML [online]. Available from: http://webdesign.about.com/cs/books/gr/aapr-dwebuse.htm [Accessed February 25, 2014].
BYERLEY, S.L. and M.B. CHAMBERS 2002. Accessibility and usability of Web-based library databases for non-visual users. Library hi tech. 20(2),pp.169’178.
HORTON, S. 2013. Access by design: A guide to universal usability for web designers [online]. New Riders. Available from: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=z0m6ICnob5EC&oi=fnd&pg=PT1&dq=usability+of+web&ots=8nZNWx1KPS&sig=TdzCuiVCXE_8HD-3AqdwQENGHYs [Accessed February 23, 2014].
KURATA, D. 2002. Using Style Sheets In: Doing Web Development [online]. Apress, pp. 69’104. Available from: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4302-0852-5_4 [Accessed February 23, 2014].
MARTENS, A. 2003. Usability of web services In: Web Information Systems Engineering Workshops, 2003. Proceedings. Fourth International Conference on [online]. IEEE, pp. 182’190. Available from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=1286801 [Accessed February 23, 2014].
PURDY, J.P. 2010. The changing space of research: Web 2.0 and the integration of research and writing environments. Computers and Composition. 27(1),pp.48’58.
SPOOL, J. and W. SCHROEDER 2001. Testing web sites: Five users is nowhere near enough In: CHI’01 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems [online]. ACM, pp. 285’286. Available from: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=634236 [Accessed February 23, 2014].
STOREY, M.A. et al. 2002. Evaluating the usability of Web-based learning tools. Educational Technology & Society. 5(3),pp.91’100.
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