Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular, having already reached over 1.5 billion mobile subscribers. Such mobile devices propose increasing value to consumers found in "anytime/anywhere" connectivity, communication, and data services. Although progress has been made in terms of technological innovations, many mobile applications remain difficult to use, lack flexibility and robustness. Some key usability challenges facing m-Business (mobile business) applications include limited screen size and quality, limited input methods and navigation difficulties. Additionally, the mobile user has to share his or her attention between the application and the surrounding environment (e.g. visual and/or auditory stimuli). Furthermore, the user's state and personal characteristics (e.g. age, motion) may be key factors in their ability to use a mobile device. This context (i.e. technology, task, environment, and user characteristics) of use may have a significant impact on the usability of such devices.
This dissertation aims to support the claim that context impacts the usability of mobile devices, and in doing so it attempts to answer the following research questions: 1) What is the impact of distractions on the usability of mobile devices for wireless data services? 2) Does Expectancy-Disconfirmation Theory (EDT) help to explain the user's evaluative process of usability with a mobile device for wireless data services? 3) What is the impact of usability on consumers' behavioural intention towards using mobile devices for wireless data services? 4) Which factors become relevant when studying usability within a context of use?
Based on existing research, a framework is proposed and a research model is developed. An empirical study is performed to validate the model and answer the research questions outlined. To simulate a real-world setting where the context of using a mobile device is constantly changing, a laboratory experiment (2x2 factorial design) was performed involving 93 subjects. Distractions were simulated in this study in the form of either user motion or environmental noise (i.e. background auditory and visual stimuli). A structural equation modelling analysis confirmed the impacts of distractions on perceived usability (i.e. efficiency and effectiveness) of, and in turn the users' behavioural intention to use, a mobile device for wireless data services. The applicability of the Expectancy-Disconfirmation Theory (EDT) in explaining a mobile user's evaluative process of usability was also explored and was found moderately significant in explaining the impact of user expectations of perceived performance.
This dissertation contributes to theory and enhances our understanding of usable mobile devices for wireless data services. Implications for practice with respect to both interface design for mobile devices and marketing of mobile services are also presented.
Coursaris, Constantinos K., "Contextual Usability: The Impact of Distractions and Expectations on Performance, Satisfaction, and Adoption of Mobile Devices for Wireless Data Services" (2006). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7595.
McMaster University Library