Methodologies and Issues in the Usability of Android Application Development
Author:Carla De Lira
- Craig Reinhart, Associate Professor of Computer Science , California Lutheran University
- Grady Hanrahan, Professor and Associate Provost of Experiential Learning, Research, and Faculty Development, California Lutheran University
- Myungsook Klassen, Professor of Computer Science, California Lutheran University
Usability is a quality characteristic that focuses on users' positive or negative experiences of the interface and features, which are crucial to a software application's success whether on a mobile device or desktop computer. For mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones, this is especially true due to their relatively smaller display screens, scaled hardware capabilities, and virtual keyboards. Through the lens of a campus Android application, SEA Navigation, this study explores how usability can be achieved at the implementation level while also satisfying the usability expectations of the Android App users. During the beginning stages of the usability process, the proposed application underwent requirement analysis to see what features were useful to the campus's targeted audience. Following the requirement analysis, a high fidelity paper prototype was engineered as a way to test how intuitive, easy to navigate, and aesthetically appealing the application was to participants prior to implementation. Participants were asked to complete a 30-40 minute interactive session that was followed by a questionnaire which addressed five quality usability attributes: learnability, memorability, efficiency, error tolerance, and satisfaction. For the implementation process, MIT's App-Inventor, a novice programming environment (NPE) which utilizes a block and drag-and-drop interface, was used to embrace and employ usability and interactive design when coding the Android application. The purpose of the tool is to see how efficiently the NPE can produce the application while still maintaining the usability expectations from the first set of usability tests. This research introduced new methodologies and concepts in creating applications for both novice and experienced programmers, whether it be in NPEs or other interactive coding environments, and focused on usability trends in current application development.