USABILITY TESTING OF LANGUAGE WEBSITES
, L. Svobodova
University of Hradec Kralove, Faculty of Informatics and Management (CZECH REPUBLIC)
The objective of the paper is to analyse two language diagnostic and testing web portals from the web usability perspective. Principles of usability testing were applied to evaluate selected language websites to measure both ease of use and the criterion of satisfaction whether the intended purpose was met.
The paper follows the standard layout: introduction with literature review on computer assisted language learning and usability testing of websites, methodological frame brings brief description of analyzed language websites, applied methods and tools, the core chapter brings findings and conclusion with raised topics for discussion form the final chapter.
The offer of possibilities to practice, improve, test individual language skills, create virtual communities, have fun or systematically get prepared for succeeding in an international language examinations in the infinite Internet environment is so vast that finding websites that would fit the user´s requirements calls for further research. In 2009 a research on language educational portals was done within the framework of the national project; usability testing was applied as a key evaluating method of web pages at the final stage of the research. This paper utilizes selected principles of usability testing of two language websites which could serve as an example of possible approach to evaluation of appropriateness and user´s satisfaction with websites.
Selection of two language websites stemmed from the results of brief needs analysis which was run with students of subject professional English at the Faculty of Informatics and Management, University of Hradec Králové.
A researcher selected an old, proven, time tested on-line diagnostic system DIALANG enabling assessment of own language abilities. Its mission is to help to find out how people are good or bad in vocabulary or grammar and individual skills like reading, listening and writing.
The other website English Stuff was selected because it covers respected language examinations prepared by various authorities for specific purposes like: TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, FCE and tests on Grammar, Pronunciation and Vocabulary. Each section offers two to four tests. Another valuable feature of this website is the possibility to diagnose the language level. The practice tests and other material on this website are designed to be freely used in an online environment only.
Usability testing was applied to assess websites. “Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use”.
Usability is defined by five quality components but for the purposes of this paper only three of them were discussed: Learnability, Efficiency and Satisfaction.