UWISH: Usability of Web-based Information Services for Hypermedia



Some interim results
General Resources


Development of a user-centred design method for Web-based services that guides the iterative process of software development. Advocating the "design for all" approach, specific attention is paid to the accessibility for elderly.


Network user interface, adaptive interface, World Wide Web, user-centred design, usability testing, multimedia, hypertext


The general objective of U-WISH is to improve the accessibility of Web-based information services for hypermedia by

Figure 1 presents an overview of the UWISH-project. Navigation principles and "Web-accessibility" techniques are being developed, applied and evaluated for different example services. A "Web-accessibility" knowledge centre is being designed to make the acquired knowledge accessible and to share the expertises (in the original UWISH project plan called "handbook").

Figure 1: Overview of the U-WISH project.

First year

In the first year, the foundations for the design of Web-navigation support were developed. First, we identified crucial cognitive factors that affect effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in navigation tasks: spatial ability, memory capacity and situation awareness. Based on these factors, we derived user requirements for navigation support and mapped them on the support functions that current Web-interfaces provide. Subsequently, three new promising support concepts were specified and implemented: categorising landmarks, history map and navigation assistant. Software tools were developed for the assessment of usability (i.e. TIATO), and for the testing of spatial ability and memory.

Second, we developed a technique for specifying interactive web-based systems. This specification technique, which is based on process algebra, allows for the description of systems (or rather parts of systems) in which virtual reality, software agents, interactive processes, and multi-modal dialogues (including speech and natural language as possible modalities of interaction) may occur. This technique should help to transform the results of a task analysis into a prototype interface.

Second Year

In the second year of the U-WISH project, the foundations for the design of Web-navigation support were tested and compared to the design practice. Based on the go/nogo review, the focus of the U-WISH project was set on the three navigation support concepts and the cognitive engineering techniques to develop the support functions (i.e. for universal accessibility, the specification of the navigation assistant and usability testing). In this way, the project is innovative, current usability guides and handbooks do insufficiently provide well-founded solutions for adequate navigation in Web-based services by users with different navigation skills. The U-WISH project identifies important cognitive factors that determine navigation performance, derives guidelines for navigation support, develops enhanced support concepts and develops techniques to design multi-modal, multi-agent Web-based services for information and commerce that include the support functions. These support concepts extend individual capacities of Web-users, in particular the spatial, memory and task-switching capacities, contributing to the implementation of "Design for all" or "Universal Accessibility". In order to attune U-WISH to the companies' needs, we investigated current and future Web-design activities at Océ and Rabofacet (the analysis at KPN has to be completed yet). The analyses of the companies provide further information about which U-WISH results can be applied when and where in the development process of (future) Web-based services, and requirements for a "Web-accessibility knowledge centre". This activity resulted in a more extensive participation of the companies in the U-WISH project.

As a first step in the production of the "general part"of the knowledge-centre's content, we developed a tutorial. The tutorial was given for a dutch and an international public so that we could acquire general feedback on its content from different interested persons. We refined the navigation theory and corresponding cognitive tests. A first test showed that the theory can, among other things, explain usage problems of elderly. We developed a navigation assistant for VMC and the "TNO HF site", and succeeded to implement the same navigation concept with the same "look and feel"for these completely different Web-based services. The test showed that the technology "worked" and that users would like to have this kind of support. However, improvements are required for actual accessibility profits. KPN, TNO and the "Reumafonds" made plans to develop navigation support for the 'virtual community' www.reumadorp.nl. Rabofacet and Reumafonds explored the possibility to add a banking service to this community. Océ and TNO started with a plan for navigation support in the Océ-site. Based on the first TIATO-version, the UWISH companies provided requirements for redesign, and TNO, Satama en Noldus made plans for further development of TIATO.

Third year

In the third year, the U-WISH research will be completed and made accessible for the Telematics Institute. Section 2 provides the work plan that consists of the following elements:

  1. We will complete the requirements for and the content of the "Web-accessibility knowledge centre" and develop this Web-based service. In a workshop, the U-WISH results will be presented and discussed, in particular focused on their implementation and further improvement of the Web-usability engineering practice.
  2. We will further validate the practical theory of Web-navigation, improve the design of the navigation support functions for VMC and the TNO-HF site, and subsequently evaluate these functions with young and elderly users. Furthermore, navigation support will be developed and, subsequently, assessed for the Océ site and the Reumadorp "virtual community".
  3. We will provide an approach of how to design and implement the navigation assistant with current Web- and agent-technology.
  4. We will work on the exploitation of the U-WISH results: in particular the development of TIATO into a better product and the implementation of the navigation support concepts.

Some interim results

The three test environments: theatre booking service, public counter, and company web-site.

The three test environments: theatre booking service, public counter, and company web-site




General Resources


Examples of styleguides and other resources are:

Resources on International and Cultural Issues

Technology that can be used to aid usability

General articles about specification techniques

Task analysis and GTA

Examples of the use of GOMS

Explanation of the use of Z


Executable specifications for interactive systems


Research institutes


Mark Neerincx en Jasper Lindenberg, TNO Human Factors Research Institute
Betsy van Dijk en Anton Nijholt, CTIT-CDS, Universiteit Twente
Steven Pemberton, CWI



KPN, Océ, and Rabobank

JJ de Graaff, KPN Research
KJ Wierda, Océ
PJM Eikelboom, Rabobank

KPN Océ Rabo


Telematics Institute
Coordination: Rene Bal

Telematics Institute

UWISH Site at the Telematics Insititute

UWISH internal site


Project manager and contact person: Mark Neerincx

Email address of all research institute partners: uwish-ki-list@cwi.nl
Email address for all partners: uwish-list@cwi.nl

Last modified: Mon Mar 19 14:19:40 CET 2001