Usability Principles for (Re)Design of User Interface of Emergency Handling Programs : Case Study on a Tool for Decision Support amidst a Nuclear Emergency: RASTEP

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: Highly stressful situations have a prominent influence on the human psyche and it is crucial to take this into account when designing and evaluating software used predominantly in nerve wrecking situations. Lack of principles for design and evaluation of design of emergency handling software programs allows for graphic interface solutions that leave room for mistakes and slips in an environment where making an error can have catastrophic consequences. The study proposes a table of principles for evaluation and (re)design of user interface of programs used in highly stressful situations. The principles are grouped based on the human capability hindered by stress. Said principles were evaluated with the help of a case study on a tool for decision support (RASTEP) when facing a nuclear emergency. Statements on usability issues with RASTEP were collected through open group interviews and participant observation and pattern matched with proposed principles. Result of the pattern matching showed the disposition of usability issues per hindered capability following the same pattern as the one of the principles. Furthermore, all but one collected statement were identified as belonging to a group of hindered capabilities and were identified as violating at least one of the proposed principles. This points to the table of principles being able to serve as a tool in evaluating usability of graphic user interface of an existing emergency handling software and identifying its usability issues.

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