Strategies for Improving Open Source Software Usability

TitleStrategies for Improving Open Source Software Usability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsZhao, L, Deek, FP, McHugh, JA
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary TitleInternational Journal of Open Source Software and Processes
Pagination49 - 64
ISSN Number1942-3934

The Open Source Software (OSS) movement has had enormous impact on how software is created and continues to attract interest from researchers, software developers and users. A factor that may be inhibiting OSS from achieving greater success is usability, a fundamental characteristic to user acceptance of software. Motivated by the uniquely user-driven nature of the open source model and the extensive user base that participates in OSS projects, the authors propose an exploratory learning method and an associated web-based inspection environment that enables non-experts to contribute to open source usability inspection. This tool uses patternbased usability guidelines to help identify usability knowledge during inspection. The method emphasizes outlining and exploration features which the authors have formally evaluated and the results of which are described. Data collected from a qualitative study indicates positive impact of the proposed method in helping end-users inspect software and achieve better results in discovering usability problems.

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