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Role Of Context In Usability Evaluations: A Review

Keywords: Usability evaluation , context , physical context , social context , theory of behaviour settings

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Abstract:

Usability is often defined as the ability of a system to carry out specific tasks by specific users in a specific context. Usability evaluation involves testing the system for its expected usability. Usability testing is performed in natural environment (field) or artificial environment (laboratory). The result of usability evaluation is affected by the environment in which it is carried out. Previous studies have focused only on the physical environment (lab and field) effect on the results but rarely focused on the effect of social environment (people present during testing). Therefore, this study aims to review howimportant it is to take context into account during usability evaluation. Context is explored through the theory of behaviour settings, according to which behaviour of individuals is strongly influenced by the physical as well as the social environment in which they function. The result of this review indicates that the physical and social context plays a substantial role in usability evaluations. Further, it also suggests that the usability evaluation model should encompass context as an important component in the framework.

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