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Making Handheld Computers Effective And Usable

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Laptop/Handheld Computing in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.833.1 - 8.833.5



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Bernal

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1420

Making Handheld Computers Effective and Usable

Barbara Bernal Thomas

School of Computing and Software Engineering Southern Polytechnic State University Marietta, Georgia 30060


Today, there is a wide disparity among owners of handheld computing devices in terms of rates of satisfaction. While some users rate their devices as an invaluable prize possession, others say they are a promising, but become a waste of time and money. The current challenge for software designers of handheld computing devices is differentiating between the valued usable systems and the non-productive pointless systems. The quest for quality, effectiveness, and usability focuses on the improvement of the ingredient that impacts the user the most, the interface.

The interaction between users and their handheld devices will be significantly improved when a design method called user-centered design is used to create the interface. The user-centered design methodology involves the true users to validate, evaluate, and verify the entire interface (all device inputs and displays) during multiple developmental milestones.2 A powerful resource in this endeavor of interface development is the usability evaluation lab (ULAB).

This paper presents the challenges in the design of an effective and usable handheld computer system. An introduction into usability issues is given with focus on successful dialogues between humans and the handheld device. An approach for user-centered design and incorporation of a ULAB is outlined and explained. Finally, the procedure of securing quality in handheld computing systems with the use of the ULAB is outlined with the results from the last two years.


Usability evaluation is an empirical study with true users of proposed systems providing feedback in iterative development cycles. It has come to be recognized as an integral part of quality assurance and its effect on quality can be readily measured. The field of software development has reflected increasing interest in usability evaluation, which is generally performed on new software and hardware in the development stages. The concept of usability evaluation is to enable user validation of all the system’s requirements, assurance of successful interaction dialogue, and verification of effective work production. By ensuring the valid occurrence of these elements,

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Bernal, B. (2003, June), Making Handheld Computers Effective And Usable Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12084

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