Toward a Layout-Based Predictor of User Effort Required to Achieve Software System Usability Goals
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In order to learn how to operate unfamiliar software systems, users must expend mental and physical energy, which may be objectively and quantitatively measured as effort. This thesis hypothesizes that the amount of effort needed by users to achieve operability goals is intrinsic to aspects of system interface layout. To test this hypothesis, two experiments are conducted wherein effort expenditure by users is measured during interaction with varying software systems with differing interface layout properties. The findings of the experiments demonstrate a correlation between the intrinsic effort of an interface and its usability as predicted by extant interface layout guidelines. Based on empirical results, a widget-based predictor of user effort required for goal achievement is derived.