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1.1  Background of the study

A user interface (UI) is the intersection of a product and a user. The commands in a computer application, the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal in a car are all examples of user interfaces. The term ‘user interface’is often used in relation to a computer interface. In this context, a user interface is characterized as, “the parts of a computer system or program which can be seen (or heard or otherwise perceived) by the human end-user, and the commands and mechanisms the user uses to control its operation and information.” (Galitz, 2013). The ideal website would be perfectly clear to new users, quickly provide them with the information they need, easy to use even after a long period of time, error free, and provide the user a very pleasant experience. Unfortunately, few interfaces are as such. Websites are often poorly laid-out, making navigation uneasy. Applications often have poorly labeled buttons or unclear prompts. New users often get confused by unclear layout, and returning users often get frustrated by awkward ways of entering data. To prevent these problems, interfaces need to be designed for usability.

To measure and improve usability, usability evaluations are mostly done. A usability study is an essential tool for evaluating a user interface in which the effectiveness of the user interface is judged. Based on the results, changes would be made to improve the interface. However, “Usability is the degree to which individuals (users) can perform a set of obliged tasks. It is the result of a few some of the time clashing design objectives.” (Brinck, Gergle, & Wood, 2002) Usability has been characterized by diverse individuals who claim it makes out of distinctive segments.

Jakob Nielsen defines usability as being composed of five components, which are: learnability (how simple would it be for users to perform essential tasks the first occasion when they experience the design?), efficiency (how rapidly can users perform tasks?), memorability (when users come back to the website after a time of non-use, how effortlessly would they be able to restore capability?), errors (what number of mistakes are made, how serious are the slips, and how effectively would they be able to recoup from the errors?), and satisfaction (how pleasant would they say it is to utilize the site?) (Nielsen, 2012).

However, Jordan (1994) defines it differently. His components for usability are guessability (how successfully a system can be used the first time), learnability (a measure of how much time/effort is required to reach a level of competence with the interface), experienced user performance (the “effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction” that a long time or fully trained user would have), system potential (how effective the system would be if used to its full theoretical potential) , and reusability (how effective user who has not used the interface for extended time is when returning). (Jordan, 1994) Jordan’s definition includes system potential as part of the measure, something Nielsen’s does not.

The examination board’s websites aim at giving up-to-date data and administrations to users in effective ways. For years, examination boards in Nigeria have been registering students, communicating with the teachers/users manually, until a couple of years back when the online registration started. Online registration, result checking has been made easier on the administrators/students who use the portal. To make this communication go perfectly well, we need to ensure the website(s) are well usable to all categories of people.

This research is to shed more light on the positive and negative aspects of usability in the effect of designing the examination board’s websites. Regardless of the exact definition, the goal of usability is to make it easier and faster for the users of an interface to accomplish their desired goals. Just as there are several definitions, there are also several approaches to accomplish this goal.

This study is aimed at identifying various problems users encounter in the course of registering students online via the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB), West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) websites.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In a research study on user’s satisfaction with examination board’s websites, users cited issues such as redirecting to another website to solve errors, wrong allocation of information, double registration for a student who was registered once as a source of difficulty while registering students. It was additionally noted that while most users pointed out the strengths, just a couple analyzed its important restrictions and problems.

The requirement for giving reliable direction for instructional online registration can be gotten from a few wellsprings of dissatisfaction. Contrasts between web designers and users have as of now been recognized as lessening fulfillment in light of the fact that web site design has not concentrated basically on user needs. Sometimes the users of examinational websites are not pleased with the website and this result in less usage of the website which leads to not achieving goals of the websites.

There is a need to look at the nature of instructional websites from the points of view of both adherence to acknowledged design standards and the viewpoint of users who definitely, after enlisting students, have contrasting levels of former information, computer experience and mastery.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to evaluate the usability of websites of examination bodies in Nigeria. The objectives are as follows

  • To evaluate the accessibility of the existing websites using automated tools.
  • To analyze the performance of the websites.
  • To carry out usability evaluation of the websites.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The importance of registration as well as result checking on line is very vital to the examination boards in Nigeria. It is expected that the results from the findings of this study will be used to evaluate the usability level of the websites (NABTEB, WAEC and NECO) correctly. Hence, areas where improvements are needed as well various design issues and violations will be pointed out. The result obtained will be used to build a better, usable and accessible website which will make the navigation and other user activities easier. Based on the testing results, the original sites will be improved and tested again.

1.5 Scope of Study    

This study is based mainly on the usability evaluation of examination board’s website. The three examination boards used in this study are: National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).

1.6 Limitations of the Study

This study due to a few factors, some of which are; limited time, financial restraints, have been limited to three usability evaluation methods, which are; questionnaire based method, interview and accessibility testing not including heuristic evaluation.

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