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Agi 2008: Usability And Gis
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Agi 2008: Usability And Gis



Presentation for the paper 'Usability and GIS – why

Presentation for the paper 'Usability and GIS – why
your Boss should buy you
a larger monitor'. See povesham.wordpress.com for the full paper.



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Agi 2008: Usability And Gis Agi 2008: Usability And Gis Presentation Transcript

  • Usability and GIS – why your boss should buy you a larger monitor Muki Haklay Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL
  • Content
    • What is the problem?
    • Why are GIS hard to use?
    • What is usability?
    • Usability engineering for GIS
    • The impact of screen size on productivity
  • The problem with GIS
    • Vendors’ press releases state ‘usability improvements’ and ‘ease of use’ but actually push functionality over interface
    • GIS users find it difficult to switch between products - and can’t perform basic operations on a GIS
    • Many GIS experts are employed to produce basic maps
  • Why do we end up with this?
  • Why are GIS hard to use?
  • Why are GIS hard to use?
  • Why are GIS hard to use?
  • Why are GIS hard to use?
  • Why are GIS hard to use?
    • As Identified by Traynor and Williams (1995):
      • GIS is complex: it is based on knowledge from Geography, Cartography, Databases, Statistics, Computer algorithms and data structures…
      • Requires users to have or acquire considerable technical knowledge in order to operate the system
    Traynor and Williams (1995) ‘Why are Geographic Information Systems hard to use?’
  • GIS – organisations and people
    • Nancy Obermeyer (2000) suggested that: ‘ … an organization implementing its first GIS is less likely to have great familiarity with the technology, a clear idea of the qualifications that will best meet its needs, or the expertise and experience to evaluate the candidates who apply’
    • This later type of organisation is rapidly becoming the norm
    Source: Unwin (2005) ‘ Masters of what? Educating the GI labour force’
  • Many ‘accidental geographers’
    • Around 4m GIS users, spread over around 2m sites (Longley et al., 2005, Ch.17)
    • ESRI (2000) estimated about 500,000 users of its products world-wide and around 50,000 full time GI professionals
    • Most with little or no training in GIS, Geography, Cartography or Geomatics
    Source: Unwin (2005) ‘ Masters of what? Educating the GI labour force’
  • The challenges of usable GIS
    • Complex technology, bringing in concepts from many areas
    • Not all users and developers can be expected to take degree programmes in GIScience
    • Over 40 years of development, leading to a rich set of functions and applications. Many of them complex and sophisticated
  • Making GIS Usable: Usability Engineering
    • Usability engineering is the output of Human-Computer Interaction research. It attempts to measure a system’s usability in terms of its:
      • Learnability
      • Efficiency
      • Memorability
      • Error rate
      • User satisfaction
  • Memorability?
  • Learnability ? Source: Coddinghorror
  • Error rate/user satisfaction Anita Adendorff (South Africa) wrote at 8:07pm on August 29th, 2007: “ At least yours still has the decency to apologize! Mine crashes without any indication leaving me wondering for 5-10 minutes whether it's just taking ages to open the doc or if it has called it a day. I have become VERY familiar with consulting the task list. Ag man, dis als so boring!” Source: Facebook, F*ck you, ArcMap!
  • Efficiency/error rate/learnability
  • Usability engineering for GIS
    • Dealing with the fundamental problems of HCI and GIS
    • Accepting that the user community as it is – do not assume a ‘GIS driving licence’
    • Methods should be easy to implement, cheap and relevant for the developers and users
    • An example: some basic aspects of computer maps that we seem to ignore
  • Paper maps vs. computer maps
  • Map are about context, not about locations
    • Maps are different sort of information from a list of search results or URLs
    • Maps are about context:
      • Showing the information over background map
      • Providing the reader enough area to see the context
  • Computer maps
    • Zooming in, out and panning are not part of what the user want to do (task), they are ways to overcome the abysmal resolution of computer monitors!
  • Source: Skarlatidou, 2005
  • The size of the map matters
  • Comparing productivity
    • Use exactly the same task (find files, create a map)
    • Run on a small monitor (1024x768) and on a large monitor (1920x1200)
    • All actions were video recorded and analysed to measure pan and zoom operations
  • Results Large monitor Small monitor Differences: 69% more operations on a small screen and additional 2 minutes...
  • Map size and productivity
    • Requesting users to send a snapshot of their screen in the middle of their working day
    • Examine what they are using and how their screens look like
    • Analysing how many applications are running, size of task bars etc.
    Source: Zafiri, 2005
  • Findings
    • GIS users tend to use higher resolutions.
    • More experienced users are using bigger maps
    • In GIS, the map area ranges from 70% to 25%
    • ESRI users: smaller map area (average 56%) more inactive toolbars.
  • Summary
    • GIS is difficult to use for good reason, but made harder by lack of ‘usability culture’ of vendors
    • GIS Usability knowledge exists within the research community, and differs from the knowledge of general usability consultants
  • Summary
    • When designing GIS interfaces, pay more attention to the map, give it all the area of the screen that you can
    • Finally, your boss should buy you a larger monitor – it will pay back in productivity