Software Usability: Concepts, Attributes and Associated Health Problems

Sabīne Grīnberga 1
  • 1 Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Rīga Stradiņš University, Dzirciema iela 16, Rīga, LV-1007, Latvia

Abstract

Digital technologies have opened a large set of opportunities for new electronic services (e-commerce, e-health, e-studies etc.). There are many considerations that need to be made when programmers are building new application software or system software. The software needs to be attractive enough that people want to look at it. It also needs to contain all necessary information that developers want to share with their readers (customers, users) in order to help them achieve the objective for which they came to their website, use their software, or interact with their teaching packages. The oversupply of e-services products has created a need for usability research and development. “Usability means making products and systems easier to use, and matching them more closely to user needs and requirements”. Usability is a key concept of the human-computer interface and is concerned with making computer systems easy to learn and easy to use through a user-centered design process. The in-depth understanding of usability concepts and processes are critical for large-scale acceptance of new e-services and knowledge productivity. Poorly designed software can be extremely annoying to users. Smith and Mayes state that „usability is now recognised as a vital determining factor in the success of any new computer system or computer-based service”. Studies have shown that the main health problems of computer users are repetitive strain injuries, visual discomfort and stress-related disorders. Beside other risk factors, such as poor workstation design, uncomfortable work postures, long hours of computer use every day, stress, etc., also poor design and usability of the computer systems, as well as computer technical problems, add to the pressure felt by the user, which may in turn cause stress-related disorders.

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