University of Oulu

Juan M. Ferreira, Silvia T. Acuña, Oscar Dieste, Sira Vegas, Adrián Santos, Francy Rodríguez, Natalia Juristo, Impact of usability mechanisms: An experiment on efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction, Information and Software Technology, Volume 117, 2020, 106195, ISSN 0950-5849,

Impact of usability mechanisms : an experiment on efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction

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Author: Ferreira, Juan M.1; Acuña, Silvia T.2; Dieste, Oscar3;
Organizations: 1Facultad Politécnica, Universidad Nacional de Asunción, CC 2111, San Lorenzo, Paraguay
2Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Calle Francisco Tomás y Valiente 11, 28049 Madrid, Spain
3Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Campus de Montegancedo, 28660 Boadilla del Monte, Madrid, Spain
4M3S ITEE, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-09-23


Context: As a software quality characteristic, usability includes the attributes of efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction. There are several recommendations in the literature on how to build usable software systems, but there are not very many empirical studies that provide evidence about their impact.

Objective: We report an experiment carried out with users to understand the effect of three usability mechanisms —Abort Operation, Progress Feedback and Preferences— on efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction. Usability mechanisms are functionalities that should, according to the HCI community, be implemented within a software system to increase its usability.

Method: The experiment was conducted with 168 users divided into 24 experimental groups. Each group performs three online shopping tasks. We measure efficiency variables (number of clicks and time taken), effectiveness (percentage of task completion) and user satisfaction gathered from a questionnaire.

Results: The adoption of Abort Operation has a significantly positive effect on efficiency (time taken), effectiveness and user satisfaction. The adoption of Progress Feedback does not appear to have any impact on any of the variables. The adoption of Preferences has a significantly positive effect on effectiveness and user satisfaction but no influence on efficiency.

Conclusions: We provide relevant evidence of the impact of the three usability mechanisms on efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction. In no case do the usability mechanisms degrade user performance. The effort to adopt Abort Operation and Preferences appears to be justified by the benefits in terms of effectiveness and user satisfaction. Also Abort Operation enables the user to be more productive. We believe that the effects on efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction depend not only on mechanism functionality but also on the problem domain. The impact of a mechanism in other contexts could differ. Therefore, we need to conduct further experiments to gather more evidence and confirm these results.

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Series: Information and software technology
ISSN: 0950-5849
ISSN-E: 1873-6025
ISSN-L: 0950-5849
Volume: 117
Article number: 106195
DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2019.106195
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: The reported research was partially funded by Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities research grant RTI2018-095255-B-I00, the PGC2018-097265-B-I00 project and the FORTE-CM project (P2018/TCS-4314).
Copyright information: © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license