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Website usability: the case of Kuwaiti middle school students

Taghreed Mohammad Alqudsi (Department of Library and Information Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait City,Kuwait)
Reem Murdhi Alkhaledi (Department of Library and Information Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait City,Kuwait)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 June 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add to the knowledge about how to design websites that are stress-free, easy to navigate and relevant to children’s learning needs.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper involves an observational study that reports the results of website usability among sixth-grade students in a private foreign school in Kuwait. The observation pertained to search performance, usability and navigation to find the needed information using the WebPath Express database.

Findings

Most of the children navigated and searched the system without much prompting; they found the search box easily, as it was positioned at the top-centre of the page, and without keywords. Of the eight students, none used the narrow-down search option; they commonly performed searches using phrases, and consistency and simplicity aided the search process. Some gender differences were found. The boys got side-tracked easily and took a longer time to find the information they sought than the girls. User behaviour, generally, was influenced by the interface design.

Research limitations/implications

Research about usability with different grade levels, with different languages and between genders needs to be conducted to provide more definitive conclusions. Sample size in observations can bring to light details that large samples cannot. The goal in observation is not statistical significance but small things that observations can bring to light.

Practical implications

Web designers need to take into consideration the research results in the areas of user interaction with computers and software. In designing educational tools for the young, several elements that research in general, including this one, emphasizes have to do with the location of search boxes, navigation interface and design elements, all of which can aid the learning process while providing a rewarding and fruitful educational experience.

Originality/value

These findings shed light on implications for cooperation between librarians and teachers and on design elements for sites tailored to school children.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The researchers wish to acknowledge the help of Ms Tina Nelson, Middle School Librarian at the American International School of Kuwait AIS, who allowed the observation of school students while doing their searching.

Citation

Alqudsi, T.M. and Alkhaledi, R.M. (2015), "Website usability: the case of Kuwaiti middle school students", The Electronic Library, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 557-572. https://doi.org/10.1108/EL-12-2013-0216

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited