The Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C) specifically concentrates on defining the intersection between usability for those who are handicapped, the elderly, and those that are faced with limitations in terms of being able to get online. The reliance on ISO Standard 9241-11 (Green, Pearson, 2006) defines the extent to which there are uniformity in the design of graphical interfaces and the use of consistently of navigational aids in the form of buttons, structure of menus, and accessibility of taxonomies including support for multiple entry points and roles-based access and use of the content on the website.
PART B- Which of the above do you feel would be most usable and appropriate for an increasingly large population of older users. Why? Give your reasons.
Of all the techniques defined within Part a of this paper, the VARK-based methodology, with its support of multiple catalog types and structures of data through variation in taxonomies, appears to be the best for an increasingly larger population of older users. Inherent in VARK-based usability methodologies is the need to continually create surveys and research of the user base to understand nuances and how they prefer to navigate the website. There is also the need to stay in step with how these users are changing as well. Apart from the stereotypical approaches of designing websites for an older population of users there is also the need to compensate for how wide the variation in color, spatial distance and content navigation are between age groups (Becker, 2004). Empirical research in this area specifically illustrates a difference in how older members of the population perceive navigation online and therefore require a wider diversity of publishing platforms or channels. The VARK methodology with its support of a variety of catalogs and the inherent system integration within this approach also further minimize the risk across a websites' usability by allowing older users to access the website content from a variety of vantage points. Additional reasons for supporting this approach are nurturing of loyalty for the website over time by integrating customer recommendation systems and allowing for multiple paths of navigation through the website as well. VARK as a design methodology also supports the concept of allowing users to create their own persona or identity online through personalization (Cappel, Haung, 2007). For all of these factors, the VARK methodology aligns with the changing usability needs of an aging population with regard to their use of websites.
PART C-Briefly assess and critique your work - identify what you have learned and what you could do better next time.
This paper is strategic in nature and portrays usability both from the standpoint of the user, and integrates in analyses from previous empirical studies of older adults using the Internet (Becker, 2004) while taking a process-centric view of how websites can increase their usability and ease of navigation. What is missing is a drill-down to the next level of analysis, specifically how the creation of interprocess and system integration can lead to stronger and more adaptable levels of usability over time. There is also the need to define how the VARK methodology would be implemented through an execution plan that would include a questionnaire, a schedule for periodically gaining feedback, and a means to analyze and take action on the results. This paper has defined the theoretical and empirical landscape of usability from the interprocess standpoint first, then looked to the pragmatics of how systems can be implemented together to allow for loyalty to be generated over time. Another key determinant of usability is the ability to deliver multiple navigational paths through a website and support multiple persons or roles of users. This needs to be defined from both a taxonomy-based as well as personalization perspective as well.
Appendix I: Web 2.0 Applications
Online diary or journal entry on the Internet, which primarily supports text, photo (photoblog), video (vlog), and audio (podcast) formats
• Google, AOL, and Yahoo offer free blogging platforms
• Web service that gathers related content from more than one source
• IBM's mashup applications enable project managers to match team resources with a map to identify the geographical locations of the resources
• a technique for effectively sharing music, audio, and text files
• Napster and Gnutella are popular peer-to-peer networks
Real Simple Syndication (RSS)
• Feed-based technology that, with the aid of an RSS reader, enables users to subscribe to newly released content such as text, Web pages, sound files, photos, and video
• RSS feed may contain the full content, for example a podcast, or simply a link to the content
• Encompasses all online tools (blogs, podcasts, Wikis, social networks, vlogs) and Web sites enabling people to share content, such as text, audio, picture s, and videos
• Popular social media sites include YouTube (video) and Flickr (photos)
• Web sites that permit users to create online networks and communicate with friends and colleagues
• Social networking sites include MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, and Friends Reunited, and business networking sites include LinkedIn and Ryze
• Allows users to bookmark or rate online content to share their recommendations with other online users
• Typically used by publishers of media sites attempting to benefit from users' recommendations
• Popularized by sites such as Digg and del.icio.us, which enable users to publish, categorize, and share their bookmarks
• Enables users to create and edit the content of a Web site, leveraging the expertise of online users
• Consumer Wikis enable users to comment on content, in addition to editing content
• Wikipedia, a community Wiki encyclopedia, includes approximately 1.3 million English-language articles
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