Abstracts of research publications on Website Usability, Human Computer Interaction

 

PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES

Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M. 2011.
Search engine optimisation versus Website Usability-conflicting requirements?

Information Research, 16(3). September. http://Informationr.net/ir/16-3/paper493.html

Introduction
The objective of this research was to prove that implementing search engine optimisation elements that are in contradiction to Website usability attributes is essential to improve rankings.
Method
Three Websites were used: the control Website was used for benchmarking purposes; the experimental Website was created to conduct additional experiments for Website usability and triangulation purposes; and experimental Website two integrated all on-page search engine optimisation elements but ignored all contradictory Website usability attributes.
Analysis
Quantitative statistical analysis was conducted on the data by means of the univariate analysis of variance test, the linear regression analysis and the Kruskal-Wallis test.
Results
Experiments indicated that the implementation of search engine optimisation elements is essential to improve rankings and that Website usability attributes are essential to increase conversions (such as purchases) and thus return on investment.
Conclusions
We confirm that on-page search engine optimisation elements have a direct impact on how commercial search engines interpret Web pages in terms of ranking. Secondly, search engine optimisation elements that are in contradiction to Website usability were identified. Finally, we conclude that the application of both search engine optimisation elements and Website usability attributes are essential for maximising conversion generation.

Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M. 2011.
An empirical study on website usability elements and how they affect search engine optimisation.

South African Journal of Information Management, 13(1). March. www.sajim.co.za

The primary objective of this research project was to identify and investigate the website usability attributes which are in contradiction with search engine optimisation elements. The secondary objective was to determine if these usability attributes affect conversion. Although the literature review identifies the contradictions, experts disagree about their existence.
An experiment was conducted, whereby the conversion and/or traffic ratio results of an existing control website were compared to a usability-designed version of the control website, namely the experimental website. All optimisation elements were ignored, thus implementing only usability.
The results clearly show that inclusion of the usability attributes positively affect conversion, indicating that usability is a prerequisite for effective website design. Search engine optimisation is also a prerequisite for the very reason that if a website does not rank on the first page of the search engine result page for a given keyword, then that website might as well not exist.
According to this empirical work, usability is in contradiction to search engine optimisation best practices. Therefore the two need to be weighed up in terms of importance towards search engines and visitors.

CONFERENCE PAPERS

Škrabálek, J., Tokárová, L., Slabý, J. & Pitner, T. 2011.

Integrated approach in management and design of modern Web-based services.
Conference Paper. Presented at the 19th International Conference on Information Systems Deveopment (ISD 2010), Prague, Czech Republic. 25 - 27 August 2010. p685 - 696.

The new kinds of applications being currently developed deserves more attention in the user interface development area. This paper takes into account slightly different needs of new applications such as Web 2.0 and considers new approaches in their development cycle. Namely, the development is more based on user comfortability needs and the paper stirs the processes needed to accomplish this successfully and early in the development phase. Thus, minimizing the bucket demands which is critical for project managers. The paper outlines also future steps to reach even better results.

BOOK CHAPTERS

Hřebíček, J., Kubásek M., Kohút, L., Matyska, L., Tokárová, L. & Urbánek, J. 2012.

Scientific Computing on Mobile Platforms.
Book Chapter. Brno: CERM. ISBN 978-80-7204-781-9.

Modern mobile devices are quickly becoming more powerful and convenient for everyday use. However, features, such as flexibility of information access, sensory data input and portability, make them beneficial in more advanced use cases as well. The purpose of this paper is to present a new trend of using mobile platforms in the area of scientific computing. First, a wide range of possibilities of mobile scientific computing is discussed. Next, current limitations of mobile technologies specific for the field of scientific computing are mentioned. The last part introduces the examples of useful mobile applications designed for scientific computing.

WORKING PAPERS

Tokárová, L. 2012.

User Experience Design Guidelines for Mobile Business Intelligence
Working Paper. Presented at the 9th Summer School of Applied Informatics, Bedřichov, Czech Republic. 7-9 September 2012. p143-151. ISBN 978-80-210-6058-6.

This paper introduces the user-centered perspective on mobile Business Intelligence (BI). The purpose of the study was to create a set of user experience design guidelines for delivery of BI to mobile devices. First, the information about users and context of use of mobile BI were gathered based on interviews and literature review. Next, the structured qualitative analysis of fifteen current mobile BI tools was performed. The results of the study and the user experience design guidelines of four major mobile operating systems served as a basis for creating the set of guidelines for mobile BI. These guidelines are divided into three categories: Delivery strategy, Mobile user experience and Access to information.

Ševčík, J. & Tokárová, L. 2011.

Application of Augmented Reality on Mobile Devices
Working Paper. Presented at the 8th Summer School of Applied Informatics, Bedřichov, Czech Republic. 2-3 September 2011. p175-182. ISBN 978-80-7392-186-6.

The goal of this article is to introduce the systems of augmented reality applied to mobile devices. First, we present trends in the field of mobile augmented reality. Next, we discuss principles of mobile augmented reality applications and selected usability issues they are facing. Finally, we illustrate the possibilities of development of augmented reality applications for mobile devices.

Ntlangula, B. & Weideman, M. 2012.

Investigation of the relationship between Website usability and Web metrics
Working Paper. Presented as an M&D Conference Paper at SAICSIT 2012, Pretoria, South Africa. 1 October 2012. http://cput.academia.edu/MeliusWeideman/Papers

Website usability and the use of website metrics are both methods which could be used to indicate popularity and/or success of a website. For commercial websites, being successful in terms of listing on search engine result pages is of paramount importance. Prior research on website usability has indicated that a number of elements can be used to make up usability from the user's point of view. At the same time, programs that provide website metrics are freely available, and their output give many indications of website activity and performance. The purpose of this paper is to propose a method of determining whether or not there is a link between the results of measuring usability, as opposed to website metrics.

Shasha, Z. & Weideman, M. 2012.

Cape Town hotel reservation system usability
Working Paper. Presented as an M&D Conference Paper at SAICSIT 2012, Pretoria, South Africa. 1 October 2012. http://cput.academia.edu/MeliusWeideman/Papers

The aim of this research project is to determine the degree of usability of Cape Town hotel online reservation systems.
Literature has shown that the goal of website usability is to improve website efficiency and enjoyableness. Researchers note that good content, simple design and few grammatical errors establish trust in a website. It has also been proven that poor website design results in loss of potential sales due to users being unable to find what they want.
The research instrument that will be used in this research is a usability test. The research will focus on web-based reservation systems, and only usability will be measured. In this research project, both standard approaches in user testing will be used - quantitative and qualitative testing. The outcome of this study will be used to guide the improvement of the usability of Web-based hotel reservation systems.

THESES

Visser, EB. 2012. DTech IT (doctoral).
Fusing website usability and on-page search engine optimisation elements.
Research thesis (100%) by article, part time, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town. Graduated 19 April 2012.

It was concluded in the literature review that small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMME) should prioritise utilising the websites on the Internet, as it provides a low cost infrastructure, unlocking opportunities and allowing small- to medium-sized enterprises to market to the international customer, promoting business activities in a low-risk environment. However, visitors do not know that they do not know, meaning a need for facilitation exists between the Internet user in terms of the information required and the information available on the Internet.

Search engines (governed by their organic ranking algorithms) were created for this very purpose, to facilitate users in finding relevant information on the Internet in the shortest time possible. Search engines interpret and evaluate any given indexed web page from a targeted keywords perspective, indicating that web pages must be optimised from a search engine perspective. However, the elements search engines perceive to be important may not always be aligned with what website visitors perceive to be important. Anything on the web page that may remotely impede the visitors’ experience could be detrimental as alternative website options are but a click away. An example would be the excessive use of content on a given web page. The search engine may find the excessive content useful as it may provide contextual interpretation of the web page. However, the excessive content may impede a visitor’s website interaction as it is estimated that the average visitors will often view a web page for 45-60 seconds and read a maximum of 200 words only.

During the process of identifying the contradictory search engine optimisation (SEO) elements and website usability (WU) attributes, three journal articles were written, with two journal articles following their own research methodologies and the third journal article utilising all the research results in order to create the fused SEO and WU model.

Journal Article 1:

Two websites were used as part of the experiment:
• Control Website (CW): http://www.copywriters.co.za
• Experimental Website (EW): http://www.copywriters.co.za/ppc/.

The CW is an existing website with no special emphasis applied to SEO and/or WU. The EW was developed by implementing the WU attributes and ignoring all contradictory SEO elements. In order to ensure integrity of the experiment, search engines were denied access to the EW. The traffic sources for the CW were search engines (organic) traffic, as well as direct and referrer traffic. The traffic source for the EW was purely PPC.

The two websites sold exactly the same products. Owing to the different traffic sources, performance was measured by considering the number of conversions obtained from the amount of website traffic obtained (conversion – traffic ratio) of each website over the same period of time, which were then compared (keeping the traffic source in mind). Additional factors, such as time spent on site, page views and Return on Investment (ROI) were also considered as measuring tools. Additional experiments (interviewing Internet users and directing the PPC traffic source to the CW for the same period of time) were conducted for triangulation purposes.

The statistical analysis was based on the Mann-Whitney U test. This analysis indicates that Visitors, Average Page Views per Visit and conversions are all significantly different when comparing the CW values with the EW values. Average time on site per Visitor and ROI were not considered as being significantly different. Accumulated results obtained from the triangulation experiment interview indicated the importance of security, minimising content and making the contact form as easy as possible to complete. The PPC triangulation experiment obtained five times more traffic (including PPC traffic) than the EW (primary experiment). However, the EW obtained approximately 50 percent more conversions as opposed to the number of conversions obtained during the triangulation experiment.

The primary objective of this research project was to determine the WU attributes which are in contradiction with SEO elements. The literature review clearly indicated that contradictions do exist between SEO and WU. The secondary objective of this research project was to determine whether or not the WU attributes identified do in fact have an effect on conversions. The primary experiment results combined with the results obtained from the triangulation experiments, provided evidence that WU attributes do have an effect on conversion. The journal article results contribute to the body of knowledge by evaluating the WU and SEO contradictions from a WU perspective, which has a direct impact on website conversions.

Journal Article 2:

The objective of the second journal article was to prove that implementing search engine optimisation elements that are in contradiction to website usability attributes is essential to improve rankings.

The primary experiment included two websites, which were utilised as part of the experiment, the CW: http://www.copywriters.co.za and the Experimental Website Two (EW2): http://www.translation-copywriters.co.za/. The CW is an existing website with no special emphasis applied to SEO and/or WU. The EW2 was developed by implementing all on-page SEO elements and ignoring all contradictory WU attributes. The EW: http://www.copywriters.co.za/ppc/ was utilised for triangulation purposes.  

The purpose of the primary experiment was to monitor 130 predetermined keyword rankings across the three major search engines, over a period of four months, comparing the CW with the EW2 rankings. The primary experiment ranking results documented were the results obtained at the end of month four. During the four months a number of systematic changes were made to the EW2 for SEO purposes. However, no changes were made to the CW at all. For triangulation purposes, four additional experiments were conducted, of which two were the keyword rankings and organic traffic improvements documented each month, comparing the CW results with the EW2 results. The two additional experiments were the conversions obtained and interviews conducted, whereby the CW, EW and EW2 results were compared.

The statistical analysis for the primary experiment was based on the univariate analysis of variance test. The results indicated that the EW2 retained better search engine rankings than the CW. The triangulation ranking results documented each month indicated similar results to the primary experiment. The statistical analysis utilised for the triangulation organic traffic experiment was the linear regression analysis. Although the EW2 did not draw as many visitors as the CW, the experiment did provide evidence as to the EW2 experiencing significant traffic growth over time owing to the application of SEO. Conversely, the CW´s traffic growth was virtually zero over the same period of time. The results obtained from the triangulation conversion experiment were analysed utilising the Kruskal-Wallis test, indicating that the EW obtained significantly more conversion that the CW and the EW2. The interviews emphasised that SEO elements, as implemented on the EW2, were considered to be obstacles from a WU perspective. The unanimous choice of website was the EW.

The results obtained from all the experiments clearly indicate the importance of applying both WU attributes and SEO elements to ensure the success of a conversion orientated website. The results also indicate that some WU attributes (content, text and media) contradict certain SEO elements (content and keywords), which have a direct impact on the process of obtaining conversions. Although search engine algorithms constantly change, certain fundamental elements will remain the same, such as the artificial intelligence programs which have to crawl, index and arrange the search results through an organic ranking algorithm. The journal article results contribute to the body of knowledge by evaluating the WU and SEO contradictions from a SEO perspective, which has a direct impact on search engine rankings.

Based on the results obtained from the two journal articles, the author was able to construct a model, synergizing the SEO elements and WU attributes along with the contradictions and solutions in an attempt to provide guidance to industry (SMME).

The primary objective of this research project was to determine whether on-page search engine optimisation elements and website usability variables can be applied to a single website simultaneously, without resulting in degradation of service to either of the two concepts.

The fused SEO and WU model addresses the visitor's concerns by removing or isolating any obstacles that may impede visitor interaction, without compromising the on-page SEO elements, thus successfully fusing SEO and WU. The author is thus of the opinion that the research problem and questions have been resolved and answered.

Tokárová, L. 2011. MSc (Computer Science).
Principles of information visualization.

Research thesis (100%), full-time, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.

The subject of this thesis is a user-centered approach on information visualization. Part I describes the process of creating information visualization (from acquiring data to creating interactive visual presentation) with a special focus on user-centered activities. The second part deals with principles of visual presentation of information. The aim was to identify aspects from various fields of studies, mainly cognitive psychology and visual communication, and explain how they affect the value of presented information. As a part of the thesis, an interactive visualization was created. It was built with Processing and it presents data about the strength of ultraviolet radiation measured daily by meteorological stations all over the world.