The major goal of this report is to design an interactive system that is easily usable and that does useful things to enhance the functionalities of the users who use the system. The design of the system needs to be human centered and must interact with the users in order to be an interactive system. The usability evaluation of the interactive system is done and all its findings and analysis is concluded in this report. The interactive system which is developed for the evaluation purpose is an automatic train ticketing system. The usability of this system is evaluated on the basis of the system’s user population in this report.
The interactive system and its users
Interactive Systems are a kind of computer systems which are characterised by substantial amounts of interaction between the computer and humans. Most of the people have grown up using the Windows and the Macintosh OS which are the major examples of interactive systems. Computer Aided Manufacture and Computer Aided Design systems, and data entry systems, all of these are computer systems which involve higher degrees of human and computer interaction. Interactive systems are computer devices which are made up of the central processing unit and the peripherals, whose functioning is done through constant user interaction. Interactive system allows dialogue between the user and the computer. It is suggested that estimation is made that almost ninety percent of the development efforts in computer technology is now dedicated to the enhancements in the interactive systems. The computer programmers try to implement the essence of human knowledge in the computer software that functions as the interaction unit between the devices and humans.
User population is a number of people that use a particular subject. The number of users of the interactive systems is the user population for the interactive system. The capabilities of the user population of any system depend upon the kind of system they are aligned to. In the case of the user population of the interactive system, it can be said that the capabilities of the user population are high and are more of a technical kind. The interactive system which is used for the usability evaluation here is an automatic train ticketing system. In the case of the automatic train ticketing system, the interactive system is a combination of the software that allows the ticket booking and the devices used for achieving that goal along with the interaction between the humans and the device that provides the ticket booking interface. The automatic ticketing system could be a machine as well as software on devices that allows user interface. The population which uses this system for ticket booking is the user population for this particular interactive system. The users in the place of the use of the interactive system or the automatic ticketing system might also be using the manual ticketing system using cash and cards from the counter. Such population are not the user population for this interactive system; the automatic ticketing system. The capabilities of this user population are that the people in this user population are technology friendly and they all have at least one bank account and are at least able to read and write. The major benefit of this interactive system is that the users of this system can book train tickets from their homes and they can eventually avoid carrying cash and standing in long queues. This system could be a mobile app, desktop app, website or hardware with the system software at the railway stations.
The use cases
The use cases obligatory for the automatic ticketing system are the login process for authentication. Selection of the source and destination address, checking the availability, Reserve ticket, Canceling Ticket and making payment. The login use case is the foremost use case which is required for the security reasons. It is used to provide authentication so that only the verified users can access the system. The ticketing system involves money and all the banking details. This could be misused so login use case will ensure that only the owner gets to use the system through his or her personal account. The login option will have two subcases namely registration and sign up procedure. The users who are new to the system can register to the system and can enjoy the facilities of the system. The users who already are using the system can access through the sign up options. Once the login use case has enabled the users to access the system there is another use case which asks the user to input their source and the destination address. The system will save the data provided and there is need to check if the route mentioned by the user is available or not. This checking for the availability is done by the check availability use case. If the tickets are not available the system will display a message notifying the users that the route they have to travel do not have any tickets left. If the seat is available for that route then available seats are displayed and the user can select the seat as per their wish. Reserve seat booking is also made available by the Reserve ticket use case.
Fig: Use Case Diagram for automatic train ticketing system
The use case at the end namely payment deducts the required ticketing charge from your bank account. The functions of use cases that lead to bank payment, seat selection, and the return of the payment on cancellation are not shown in the use case, but an ideal ticketing system must incorporate all these features. This system too has similar functions, but only main use cases are mentioned here.
There are various methods to evaluate the system and its performances. Evaluation of any system is necessary but determining the methods for the evaluation of the system according to the kind of the system is also equally necessary. Evaluation methodology provides set of requirements by defining the functionality of the security for the system. It provides a set of assurance requirements to make sure that the system meets all its functional goals. It further provides the methodology to determine that the system meets all its functional requirements based on analysis of the evidence of assurance. Evaluation methodology provides a measure of result which indicates the trustworthiness of the system with respect to the functional requirements for security.
The users were provided with the detailed description of the system and its use. The users who were the part of the evaluation methodologies were asked for their feedback. They were advised to use the system and ask for all the possible scenarios. The scenarios which the users did not like were asked of them. They were asked for the options to be implemented for them to overcome those scenarios. They were explained about the data which is to be obtained from them is not for public exposure but usability evaluation of the system. After briefing them about the scenario, they were asked to submit their personal analysis of the system and its usability.
Technical Evaluation Index
Technical Evaluation Index is evaluation method that provides an index to the system by checking its various features as mentioned below. This index is provided on evaluating all the major experts of the system which are technical. It checks whether the system is technically fit or not. Scoring high technical evaluation index is a somewhat indication of the system being technically sound.
i. Reliability: The system can be a reliable system or could be unreliable. The first possibility is that the software is reliable but the device may fail and vice versa. These failures most probably may not be within the user population capabilities. Therefore use of the technical evaluation index can be used as reliability checking method.
ii. Stability: Stability is a factor that determines the software error rate per month. The lesser the error rate per month is the more stable the system is. This factor determines whether the system is table or not.
iii. Scalability: The scalability factor checks the number of the web traffic on the system and evaluate the performance of the system. When there is rise in the web traffic which is more than the usual then the system determines whether the system is performing slowly or has gotten slower than before. A good system must be scalable and should not get slowed down on increase in the number of the users.
i. Inspection: In the inspection methodology the usability aspects of the user interface of the system is inspected by usability specialists. It is done by perspective based inspection, comparing the system with other similar systems etc.
ii. Test: Testing is done by providing certain users with the system and ask them to use it. The evaluators then acquire the feedbacks from those selected users and inquire about the functioning and interface of the system.
iii. Inquiry: This method is used to determine the likes and the dislikes of the users. Some selected people are provided with the app are asked to use it. Then they are asked about what they like and what they don’t. This inquires helps the system developers to know what is required and what isn’t in the system as its functionalities.
The methodologies that were used for the evaluation provided with various data which was further used to evaluate the interactive system; the automatic train ticketing system. .
i. Learnability: The ability to learn things that are being used for the first time is evaluated in this section. The users use the system for the first time and the ability to learn the functioning of the system is to be evaluated. The questions that were asked in this evaluation technique is how questions. The basic question is how easy was it for the users to use the system and accomplish a basic task for the first time they used the system. The answers and the feedbacks which is received through these questionings and the learnability evaluation are used further for findings and the analysis of the system and are used for the betterment of the system.
ii. Retention: This is a technique which can only be implemented on users who have already used the system and they are then questioned about the system and its functionalities. They are questioned about the interactivity and the usability of the system. The questions are about the interface of the system. Now after they are asked the questions the answers provided by the users are recorded for the evaluation purposes. The evaluation of retention is done by evaluating the memorability of the users regarding the system. This provides a proper evaluation of the status and impact pf the system. It evaluates how well the users have remembered the system and its functionalities along with its interface. The more they have remembered the better the evaluation results of the system is. The major questions in this process is a how question. Retention is a lesser used technique but it is very effective one.
iii. Response and the Engagement: This evaluation process is to evaluate the engagement of the users with the system. The question asked is how engaged are the users while they were using the system and also the responses. The users if were responsive while using the system then how responsive they were is a topic for evaluation. There is a lot which can be asked to obtain the data for the engagement and the response of the users while they use the system.
iv. Satisfaction: The users are using a system as a service and any service is subject of providing a sense of satisfaction to the users. The how questions about the satisfaction of the users after they have used the system is a major evaluation stimuli and it enables to collect data about the satisfactory values of the users.
The distance between the system designer’s and the user’s mental models is the usability of any interactive system. The lesser the distance is, the more higher the usability of the system is. This distance between the designer’s and the user’s mental models can be reduced by the knowing the distance length through user experience. User experience is one of the best method for determining the usability of any interactive system. The users were asked about the interface and the layout of the system. They were asked whether the system was easy enough for them to use. The users were asked if they had any trouble using anything in the system. If there is anything they have problem with then certainly there is problem in the system or the design of the system that needs to be addressed by the system developers. The evaluation therefore must be done from the user experience input and feed backs. User experience can be best determined by asking what, how and why questions to the users. The users were asked the same what, why and how questions. Questions that start with what are to be asked at the beginning of the evaluation process of any interactive system. The usability of any system depends upon the effectiveness of the system and the efficiency of the user in using the system. The system’s effectiveness is measured from the data collected from the evaluation methodologies based on the number of the users who were able to book a ticket successfully without any problem. This helps to evaluate whether the system is effective or not in taking its users to the goal which is targeted by the system. If there are very less users who were not able to reach the goal means that chances are that they didn’t know how to use any interactive system but if the number of the users who did not reach the goal is high then probably it’s the system which has the problem. Now the question arises what are the problems that they are facing which is not letting them reach the end of the system to book the ticket. These questions are asked to every individual involved in the usability evaluation. The answers are then recorded for findings and analysis of the evaluated data. The questions about their satisfaction were asked regarding the use of the system. The user is being able to efficiently book the system or not are the questions which are asked to the users. The questions about the needs, wants and limitations of the users of the system are given extensive attention at each stage of the evaluation process.
Many of the users were keen to know more about the functionality of the system and volunteered without even showing concern about the interviews. The tendencies to know about the system was measured. Users were willing to use the system for ticket booking and encouraged to make it better. Many what questions enables the users to provide feedbacks and show the heuristic approach of theirs towards the system. Therefore heuristic evaluation is one of very helpful evaluation techniques.
Types of the users:
The evaluation varies with the variation in the type of the user. The users can be of different nationalities speaking different tongue. The physical abilities of the users are also to be considered while evaluation process. The age group of the users is also a category on which the users can be distinguished. The nationalities may bring evaluation differences among the users because of the language they use. The system designed is to be done in the English language. This helps the users to connect the users universally. The physicality of the users include abilities and disabilities. The users with disabilities may find the system of no use as might need someone else to help them out with system and this is equivalent to asking for help to book a ticket. Visibly impaired might find the system useful when the system interacts through audio. The hearing impaired can still read the system interface. Some might be having mobility impairments. Users with a mobility impairment can use the system for booking ticket without having to take help from others. These people can definitely benefit from the system. These evaluation will lead the system to be designed in a way that the system meets all requirements of the users with respect to the type of the users. The users belong to different age groups. The experience that a certain age group has with the system could be totally different from any other age group. These differences are certainly because of the age differences and the generation gaps. These void can be filled by asking what the requirements of these different types of the users are and work accordingly to make the system a common ground for all kinds of users. The questions starting with what is asked more frequently in this evaluation process and the answers are recorded and is provided for the findings.
The overall evaluation is done on the basis of the design of the system. The use cases may or may not be designed well enough. The design is responsible for the performance, speed, interface and the usability of the system. If the design is faulty then there is no reasons for the evaluation to come in the favor of the system. All the evaluations done is for a sole purpose of ensuring the system has no loop holes in its design. The functionalities of the system can be added but if the design does not allow such addition then the design is faulty. Faulty design may lead to start the project from the beginning.
The findings of the evaluation
The evaluation of the automatic train ticketing system was done, and there were a lot of findings based on the evaluation of the system. There were many people who were provided with the system to use it for the evaluation purposes. The inputs of these people and also the experts from the railway department were taken where they all suggested their parts. Some of them had problems with the interface while many were worried about the payment procedures. The use cases were not sufficient for the functions of the system which was concluded from the evaluation procedure. There are few sub-functions of the use cases which needs to be added to the system for the user-friendly experience of the system. The major feedback that is to be taken into consideration was in the functionality of the check availability use case. The check availability use case checks if there are available seats and books the seat when available, but there is an additional problem to it what happens when there are no available seats and the users are willing to wait for another train on the same day or a few days later. This booking can be done from home, and the users need options. There could be multiple trains on the same route, so timing option is included in the system under the check availability use case. When the ticket is not available a message is displayed showing the next train on the same route with available seats. Again the similar process is repeated. There is a possibility of the ticket not being available in many scenarios, so the users tend to book the tickets early and this service is provided by the reserve ticket use case. There are chances of changes to a plan leading to people cancelling their tickets, and the tickets can be cancelled using the cancel ticket use case. The cancel ticket use case further adds functionality of returning 75 % of the ticket money to the user and this feature is further incorporated with the bank. The payment procedure passes through the admin for security and clearance purposes. Another major issue that seems to bother the users is the payment procedure and the security related to it. Safe banking is to be ensured, and collaboration of the system with as many banks is to be done so that users with any bank can use the system efficiently.
i. The system ensures a layer of security for authentication.
ii. The system makes it easy for the users to book train tickets from wherever they are.
iii. The system lacks few elaborate functionalities in the use case.
iv. Payment methods need better security.
v. Ensuring the money return policy on ticket cancellation is required to be added.
vi. The availability functionality needs to be more elaborate and should provide options in case of unavailability.
vii. The usability of any interactive system depends upon the functionalities of the use cases.
viii. The interactive system can be made better using the evaluation methodologies from the usability experience.
Any interactive system has better usability if the user population can connect to the system easily. The design of the system has to be made simple and understandable for all kinds of users. The system goals should not have complications as it reduces the usability index. Design is the key to obtain high usability for interactive systems. The evaluation of the system provides feedbacks which can increase the usability of the system. The automatic train ticketing system is a much needed interactive system in today’s world. On ensuring the security for payment procedure it has higher usability. The system and its users are interrelated. The metal models of the user have to be implemented in any interactive system for better usability. The usability evaluation of any interactive system makes the system better.