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Fiction Electronic Books: a Usability Study

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  1. Fiction Electronic Books: a Usability Study Chrysanthi Malama, Monica Landoni & Ruth Wilson University of Strathclyde, UK ECDL - 13 September 2004

  2. Outline • Background • The Visual Book • The WEB Book • EBONI • Fiction Ebooks: • Aims • Methodology • Results • Analysis & Conclusions

  3. The Visual Book • 1993-1997 • Importance of appearance in the design of electronic textbooks • The paper book metaphor is well-understood

  4. The WEB Book • What about books on the Web? • Applied Morkes and Nielsen’s general web design guidelines • Scannability found to be important for books on the Web

  5. EBONI • Electronic Books ON-screen Interface • Evaluations of: • Web textbooks • Textbooks in proprietary formats (Adobe Reader, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket Reader) • Electronic encyclopaedias • Portable electronic books • By: students & lecturers in UK Higher Education • Electronic textbook design guidelines: • http://ebooks.strath.ac.uk/eboni/guidelines

  6. Fiction Ebooks: Aims • To study whether the presentation of a fiction book in electronic format that shares the EBONI project’s guidelines in terms of visual components (such as size, quality and design) increases satisfaction and usability. • To compare the results of this study with the results of the EBONI project which focused on the design of learning and teaching material on the Internet.

  7. The Fiction Ebooks • Same book in three formats • Freely available on the Internet • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Gerard • Scrolling book • Adobe Reader (PDF) • Microsoft Reader

  8. Scrolling Book • From Project Gutenberg • http://gutenberg.net/ • Simple, scrolling book • Everything displayed on one long page

  9. Adobe Reader • From Nalanda Digital Library (India) • http://www.nalanda.nitc.ac.in/ • PDF format • Look of a physical book • Single page on screen at a time • Functionality • Bookmarks • Find • Zoom in/out • Thumbnails…

  10. Microsoft Reader • Virginia Digital Library • http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/Plist.html • Greatest functionality: • Bookmarks • Find • Pan/zoom • Clear Type • “Riffle Control” for navigation • Alter font size • Annotations: notes, highlights, drawings

  11. Procedure • 25 participants: • Lecturers and postgraduates in Computer & Information Sciences • Wider public • Conducted over the Internet: • Contacted by email • Online instructions • Online questionnaire

  12. Procedure • Pre-questionnaire • Age, gender, occupation • Previous experience of ebooks • Invited to read the three versions of the book in any order • Subjective satisfaction questionnaire • How easy to learn, read, navigate… • Comments

  13. Measures • Subjective satisfaction comprised: • Ease of use • “Compared to what you expected, how quickly did you learn to use the ebook?” • “Was the text easy to read?” • “Was the book easy to navigate?” • “How frustrated did you feel?” • Quality • Rate how “annoying”, “engaging”, “helpful” & “unpleasant” each version was • Rate functionalities in terms of helpfulness

  14. Results

  15. Comments: Scrolling Ebook • Positive: • Easy to download • Negative: • User-unfriendly • Disliked scrolling • Boring font and layout • Difficult to navigate

  16. Comments: Adobe Reader • Positive: • More “book-like” • Attractive, clear & colourful • Easy navigation • Negative: • Took time to download • Can’t underline

  17. Comments: Microsoft Reader • Positive: • “book-like” • Functionality • “I could not believe that you could draw… make notes and highlight” • Negative: • Download problems • Navigation icons • Software failure

  18. Analysis • Importance of book metaphor, in particular: • Tables of contents • Pages • Navigation • Bookmarks • Highlight facility • And: • Customisation, e.g. font size • Search tools • Colour

  19. Conclusions • To provide practical and attractive ebooks, we need to understand user expectations • Focus on appearance as well as technology • Future work: • Analyse use in a library setting • Allow users to choose their own books