Implementing a usable web-based interface for databases to improve the efficiency of interacting with them
Abstract: Currently, there is a large amount of data stored in databases used by companies and organizations. Usability of databases as a key factor motivates research on Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Interaction with computers can be challenging and HCI has been used to improve the communication between users and computers . Databases may include a huge amount of data while only a part of the data may be needed for users. If the data can be understood and interpreted well, and is easily accessible in a suitable format, then people can better utilize that in their work. Professional users may be able to specify appropriate queries using Standard Query Languages, such as SQL or XQuery, to filter out desired aspects from a database. However, it is not an effective way for users who are not familiar with the database schema and the query languages. In terms of HCI, a well-designed interface can make the interaction with databases much easier and more effective. The designer of the interface should create one or more forms based on making an educated guess of users’ behavior and the needed data for them. In addition, the designer should think about how to convert forms into a DBMS (DataBase Management System) query . During the thesis, a review is initially done on what HCI and interaction design is and how it can be achieved. A case study is defined at Sandvik Coromant in order to help us understand the theory and how a usable interface for databases can be implemented to improve the efficiency of interacting with them. There is a database at Sandvik Coromant which is including information about some materials and is used by expert users. An interface, implemented using Microsoft Access, is currently utilized to access and interact with the database. However, the users need some new requirements which can be addressed with designing a new interface. During the project, an investigation is done on the database, the current interface and its pros and cons. Then, an interface design methodology is selected based on the related theory. Some technical methods are chosen to implement the desired interface for the case study. Finally, two methods of interface evaluation are applied to see how the users evaluate the new interface. Throughout the document, it is stated in detail how the investigation about the database and the current interface is done. It is also explained how the design methodology is selected and implemented. Finally, it is stated that how the new interface is evaluated.
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