Usability of Web-based Knowledge Portals to support Research Organizations

Muthu Kumar, Uma Natarajan, John G. Hedberg


Usability refers to the effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction of a designed product or system. One of the most of productive ways of measuring usability goals is through questionnaires and surveys. In this paper, we discuss usability related issues from a users’ perspective in the design analysis of a web-based knowledge portal that was developed to support the knowledge management activities of an educational research organization. The original portal system initially experienced high levels of user participation. However in recent times, this trend had been reversed with flagging log-in access rates. Consequently, a criterion-based usability survey instrument was designed and implemented online to gather users’ responses and comments. The survey outcomes indicated that a large number of respondents used the portal sporadically with a significant number being completely unaware of many of its services. Thus based upon this feedback, the existing portal was revamped to ensure a more user-centric design model that focused on the cornerstone aspects of user control, ease of navigation, personalization services and clarity in visual presentation of information.

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