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EVALUATING THE USABILITY OF EDUCATIONAL PROJECT WEBSITE: A CASE STUDY

C. Machado, T. Bettencourt

University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
The swift Internet development led to an increase in the number of websites, as well as in the quantity of available information (texts, images, videos, audio). Note that many sites are visited only once, due to the difficulties experienced by users in finding information, access times, font size, colours, among others, which ends up being a satisfaction issue. Website usability evaluation during the development and implementation process is important to identify interface problems and outcomes allow to make changes in order to improve the site for users. Usability is a need for website development that requires the accurate planning of tests to be made.

The aim of this paper, is to present the planning and usability evaluation for Project BeSafe website with the aim of examining the following research question: “Is the Project BeSafe Website easy to use?”

This research is part of the Project BeSafe. BeSafe is a project that arose from a Post-Doctoral research made within the Department of Education and Psychology of Universidade de Aveiro (Portugal) .This project originated from the realization that social media are influencing people’s social and cultural lives more and more, because contact possibilities are broader. But social media relationships are different from those relationships established in person, as people tend to be more relaxed in the digital media, and subsequently less careful and reserved, failing to protect and preserve themselves. This is why it is important to raise awareness of people using social media in a proper and conscious way. The target-public is Portuguese university students, but all citizens older than 17 years are encompassed by the project.

Project BeSafe’s goals are:
(i) to contribute for the training of responsible citizens, aware of the underlying risks and dangers of digital social media in real life;
(ii) to contribute for the mitigation of possible digital exposure effects in citizens’ real lives; and
(iii) to stimulate the responsible, safe use of digital social media.

Was used the heuristic evaluation method to evaluate the usability of Project BeSafe website. The usability evaluation was performed by experts in the Educational Technology field. The evaluation chart was divided into three groups:
(i) Interface and visual/graphical aspects;
(ii) Browsing and information architecture; and
(iii) Contents, interest and pedagogical strengths.

The results obtained show detailed information for the tested website regarding their conformance with the developed usability criteria. In general, the results showed that the majority of the evaluators/experts were satisfied with the usability of the Project BeSafe website. Based on the evaluation results, we hope this paper will be useful in promoting the usability assessment practice of websites and provide a guide for evaluating usability of educational project websites.