Identification of Criteria Affecting the Usability of Academic Institutes Websites

Identification of Criteria Affecting the Usability of Academic Institutes Websites

Deepti Mehrotra (Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, India), Renuka Nagpal (Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, India), and Pradeep Kumar Bhatia (Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar, India)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2017070102
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Web designer needs to consider multiple factors while creating a website. Choice of factors depend upon type of website, its objective and user using these websites. In this paper, the main focus is to study the factors that enhance the usability of the academic institute websites. The analysis is done using two different approaches. Firstly, looking for type of website and its objective for which systematic literature review was done. Secondly, for understanding user need, questionnaire based instrument was designed to collect user feedback for analysis. To further determine the criteria's that play the significant role in designing effective website Principal Component Analysis technique (PCA) is employed.
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Today, not only the businesses organization requires the website, the non-profit domains like education, health, and public / government agency has also identified the strategic importance of the website. The educational organization being it school, universities, e-learning domain, library website, educational portals, etc., are maintaining their website for successful communication of the organization with their users. These websites act as the virtual face (Meyer, 2008; Jones and Meyer, 2012) of the organization to help the aspiring students and their parents to make the decision while selecting an educational organization. In developing countries, many new universities are established and want the better visibility of their system to the world. A usable website can only help to establish their presence online effectively.

Usage of the website has become more relevant with the increased popularity of online technologies, which is now readily available to mass just by click on computer or at mobile. The prime objective of the website designer is to design an effective and usable website (Nielsen, 2000) so that the information that stakeholders commonly look is easily retrieved. One of the major concerns for these websites is diverse range of user and their skills of handling the website. The user can be students who are very technology savvy or parents who still feel little hesitant in using Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-equipped platforms.

The website designing is a complex process as it blends the user’s satisfaction and suffixing the need for education processes (admission regular monitoring, examination, etc.). The ultimate goal of the website is to shape and present the content according to the stakeholders. It will help to assess the overall usability of the website which is one of the major quality parameter. Generally, to assess the quality of any product, one should find a set of quality factors that describe what is expected from the product based on its characteristics. Selecting the most influencing features and establishing the relationship between them will formulate the quality evaluation model. So, for designing a quality evaluation model for a website one should study the quality factor, and various approaches that can be utilized to establish relationship between them (Mebrate, 2010).

Software quality (Fitzpatrick, 1996) is defined in different ways but all definition focus around two objectives “conformance to requirements” and “meeting user needs”. Websites are highly interactive and user-centric, hypermedia based applications. Website quality parameters as suggested in ISO (Abran, Khelifi, Suryn, & Seffah, 2003) are functionality, reliability, usability, efficiency, maintainability and portability. In this study, evaluation of the usability of the website is considered. Evaluating each parameter and designing a model that assess the usability is very complex and time-consuming. Thus, for designing model one need to identify the most critical criteria's that contribute significantly (Shahizan Hassan & Feng, 2003). In this paper, the criteria contributing to usability evaluation of academic websites of higher education are identified. Two approaches are adopted firstly, identifying major parameters discussed in the literature using a systematic literature review approach and secondly, based on gathering of viewpoints of the users, using questionnaire-based survey approach. Figure 1 reflects steps considered in this paper.

Figure 1.

Steps to find the quality criteria


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