Examining Mobile Tasks and Devices: Developing a User Centric Guideline

Examining Mobile Tasks and Devices: Developing a User Centric Guideline

Karen Carey (School of Computing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland), Markus Helfert (School of Computing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland) and Donal FitzPatrick (School of Computing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijmhci.2014010103
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Abstract

As the mobile workforce expands and enterprise applications continue to evolve it is critical for software developers to target appropriate devices for their content. Not all applications are suitable for mobile deployment, for example if an application manipulates large amounts of spreadsheet data, it may result in low adoption rates and poor performance outcomes on a smartphone. This research provides a guideline to identify the most suitable device in yielding successful task performances from the user's perspective. The guideline couples the user's performance requirements associated with specific tasks, to the device whose performance most adheres to their requirements. Developers of enterprise applications can use this guideline to identify the most suitable devices to target for their content thus avoiding low adoption and poor usability associated with their application on unsuitable devices. To demonstrate the use of the guideline the authors applied it to a usability study, which focused on comparing user performance across devices. Application of the guideline resulted in a positive response in terms of improving representational user information required when targeting devices.
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Introduction

The value and convenience provided by mobile devices has been adopted by enterprises worldwide. According to Avanade (2012), the majority of companies (60%) are adapting their IT infrastructure to accommodate, rather than restrict, employee’s use of personal devices. Employees use mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to access web-based and native line of business applications in the corporate environment, therefore, they necessitate mobility along with high quality usability in achieving successful task performances. It is important to note that not all applications are suitable for mobile deployment, for example if an application manipulates large amounts of spreadsheet data, it may not perform as efficiently on a smartphone as it would on a laptop. This research provides a guideline to identify the most suitable device in yielding successful task performances from the user’s perspective. Developers of enterprise applications can use this guideline to identify the most suitable device to target for their content and thus avoid low adoption and poor usability associated with their application on unsuitable devices.

The concept of matching technology with the requirements of organizational tasks to be supported or automated forms the basis of the theory of Task technology fit developed by Goodhue and Thompson, (1995). Task Technology Fit (TTF) suggests that, IT is more likely to have a positive impact on individual performance and usability if the capabilities of the IT match the tasks that the user must perform, (Goodhue & R.Thompson, 1995). Since the introduction of TTF several researchers have explored the relationships between task attributes and technologies, (Goodhue & Thompson, 1995; Zigurs & Buckland, 1998; Jarvenpaa, 1988; Mathieson & Keil, 1998). More recently, a model which captures the matrix of relations between tasks and technologies for mobile computing has been developed (Yuan, Archer, Connelly, & Zheng, 2010). Our guideline practices the concepts of TTF, by matching the user’s performance requirements with the most suitable performance outcomes.

To identify what is required for a successful performance we examined the usability literature. Watters, Duffy, and Duffy, (2003), defined performance as ‘the efficiency and effectiveness associated with a tasks completion’. Similarly the International Standardisation, (ISO-9241, 1998) include this definition for “usability” along with ‘an effective measurement for satisfaction’. We use the terms ‘performance’ and ‘usability’ interchangeably throughout the paper. Evidently, efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction are required for the successful completion of tasks and thus the deliverance of successful user performances. These are the key performance dimensions adopted in our guideline. Adopting our guideline can assist the process of choosing a suitable device to target for your application, subsequently yielding an efficient, effective and satisfying performance for the user. The paper is organized as follows: Firstly, we provide background information in relation to TTF theory and user performance, which were applied during the construction of the guideline. We then outline the actions undertaken during the construction of the guideline. Following this, we present the Mobile Task-Device Fit Guideline, (MTDFG) and discuss its implementation in a usability study. We validate the MTDFG by issuing a questionnaire. The final section discusses the questionnaire findings, the research limitations and conclusions.

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