Valuation Of The Web Navigation Helper Essay


Web handiness is a really of import research issue nowadays, In this paper, we describe an handiness user agent created to assist users with particular demands, called Web Navigation Helper. The aid is given through mediation duologues created in a person-to-person footing. We report an exploratory survey done with aged utilizing the WNH. We discuss the handiness issues from a semiotic point of position, foregrounding the importance of metacommunication to the procedure of mediation provided by the agent. We describe how the manner assistants created the duologues influenced the users ‘ public presentation, sing the interface metacommunication in the response or users side.


The research in web handiness has been progressively emphasized because of the turning figure of entree by people with many different particular demands or restrictions, related to damages or non. W3C has a immense work in supplying guidelines to steer developers and interior decorators to make accessible web sites. These guidelines are recommended besides to plan web sites aiming elderly. The research confronting aged, in general, considerer issues like handiness barriers, physical and cognitive troubles of course acquired with aging, and the creative activity of recommendations and guidelines.

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In this paper we report an in deep survey done with a specific user profile: the aged. This survey aimed to measure an handiness user agent called WNH ( Web Navigation Helper ) . WNH was designed to assist anyone who has impermanent or lasting demand of aid in executing web undertakings. The end of this paper is discuss handiness issues related to elderly, as observed in the experiment, in a Semiotic Engeneering position, sing the importance of a well-know construct of this HCI theory: the metacommunication phenomenon. We discuss the response procedure of the interior decorator ‘s messages by the users, i.e. the response side of communicating.

The following subdivision presents the Web Navigation Helper in more inside informations. After that, we give some background account about Semiotic Engineering. Following, we describe the experiment process and the consequences observed from it, discoursing how the quality of metacommunication influenced the users ‘ public presentation. Finally we bring some decisions and future work.


The Web Navigation Helper ( WNH ) is a user agent created to back up users with handiness demands ( impermanent or lasting ) to voyage the Web. WNH helps the users to carry through web scripted undertakings. From the written undertakings, mediation duologues are created to follow the user during all pilotage. These duologues in fact compose the assistant. They have the undermentioned advantages: 1 ) to restrict the interaction actions to those necessitating user input informations ( the book behind the undertaking does some actions automatically ) ; 2 ) to interrupt the interaction in stairss ( each input informations is required separately or in little groups ) ; 3 ) to roll up user input informations needed to carry through the undertaking ; 4 ) to give all the account necessary about interaction elements, undertaking context etc ( it is possible add textual content to duologues ) .

The duologues are supposed to be created by anyone who wishes to assist a familiar member or friend who has handiness demands, for illustration, an aged, deaf or blind individual. This person-to-person usage of WNH is of import because we believe that closer people know better each other jobs and demands and they can make duologues more utile and suited.

In Figure 1, we see the WNH in action, interceding a undertaking of looking for conditions prognosis at “The Weather Channel” web site. When put to deathing the written undertaking, the mediation duologue shows up in the browser precisely when it is necessary to acquire user input information, in this instance, the metropolis name. After make fulling out the textbox in the duologue, the user clicks the “Continuar” ( “to continue” in Portuguese ) button and the name informed is filled in the corresponding textbox in the Weather Channel interface every bit good ( indicated by the dotted line in & gt ; Figure 1 ) . Note that the user does non necessitate to type the web site URL, neither looking for the right topographic point to type the metropolis ‘s name in the web site, neither chink in the “Find Weather” button in the web site ‘s interface. All this actions are performed by the book related to the undertaking. This illustration has merely one duologue, because the undertaking requires merely one input piece of information ( the metropolis name ) . However, WNH can intercede more complex undertakings, for illustration, the filling of extended web signifiers. The duologue Godhead has some resources like to group related Fieldss in a same duologue window, to put Fieldss type as Numberss, day of the month, pecuniary and so on ( the cuts, periods and commas would be put automatically ) , and to make particular duologues ( without user input ) to welcome the user and to describe the undertaking ending.A

Figure 2 shows the duologue content ( in English merely to ease reading ) in a clear size. There is a button called “Duvidas” ( “doubts” in Portuguese ) in the duologue underside right. When the targeted users presses that button during interaction with WNH, they can decide uncertainties about what they must make, the significance of specific footings, the effects of the undertaking, the overall end of the web site, and so on. These uncertainties must be anticipated by the duologue writers during the creative activity procedure.


Semiotic Engineering ( SemEng ) is a HCI theory dedicated to the quality of communicability. SemEng states that systems are rational artefacts and that interior decorators and users make a conversation in interaction clip. The system ‘s interface acts as interior decorator ‘s deputy in pass oning to the user what the interior decorator thinks about the user, what the intentional system is and how to utilize it. This information composes the metacommunication about the system present in every interface. If the interface marks are non good designed ( i.e. are non good communicated ) , communicative ruptures happens and take the user to misunderstandings and errors [ 3 ] . In this instance, one says that the metacommunication is non good ( harmonizing to what the interior decorator intended ) and that the interface has communicability jobs.

The WNH research has EngSem as background, since what duologue Godheads truly do is to reconstruct the metacommunication of the interface related to the mediated undertaking. When WNH breaks the interaction in stairss and alter the manner user information is requested, the interior decorator ‘s original message is changed every bit good. In dependence of this, when duologue Godheads add textual content, giving account or modifying looks, they have a powerful resource to better this original metacommunication, since they work as an translator of the original interface, sing the peculiar demands of the targeted WNH user.

However, it is necessary to look into better the metacommunication issue because, in fact, WNH user “hears” three different interior decorators ‘ voices: the original interface interior decorator, the WNH interior decorator and the duologue Godhead.

The WNH research involved the development of the assistant and the duologue editor ( a specialized tool through what the duologue and uncertainties are created ) and explorative surveies with users ( dialog-creators and dialog-users ) , before and after the tools were developed. All experiments considered the aged as concluding users, despite WNH can be utile for other particular demands communities. Merely the really last experiment truly involved the usage of mediation duologues by aged users. This experiment had the undermentioned ends: to measure the assistant and the editor ( serviceability, relevance, pertinence ) ; to measure the assistant as an handiness user agent ; to measure the WNH position as a tool to be used in a personal base ( person assisting closer person ) . Aged people with low degree of digital literacy participated of the experiment. They were “recruited” from a class of digital inclusion for aged promoted by the State of Rio de Janeiro. Many of import consequences related to this user profile were obtained from the experiment, despite it was non among the chief research ends.

This paper aims to describe some of these consequences. We aim to discourse some issues related to the usage of computing machines and the Internet by aged users, observed during this experiment, but from the SemEng point of position. We report, in this paper, how users receive the metacommunication from duologue Godheads, chiefly, but besides, sing the other interior decorators ‘ message nowadays. The end is to look into how the metacommunication quality ( i.e. the communicability ) positively and negatively influenced the user ‘s actions and the undertaking accomplishing. The other consequences of this experiment can be found at.


Six aged took portion of the experiment. They were aged: 63, 65, 66, 67, 72 and 82. Before get downing the experiment itself, we did a speedy presentation of WNH, by put to deathing a mediated undertaking as illustration. The undertaking was seeking for dessert formulas in a popular Television presenter ‘s web site. The chief activity, in WNH duologues, was to inform a keyword or look to subject, in order to happen a formula. In the first duologue ( a welcome duologue ) there was a statement ratting that merely dessert formulas would be searched for by that undertaking. In the uncertainty subdivision, we created one inquiry as illustration: “I do n’t desire to seek for sweets… How can I make? ” The reply was: “This undertaking was created merely to seek for sweets formulas. If you want to seek for another type of formula ( repast, fish, salads… ) , you must make the hunt in the web site ( chief screen ) ” . Then, the 2nd duologue asked for the inquisitory term, and the 3rd and last duologue reported the terminal of the undertaking and congratulated the user for the successful task.A

After this account, the participants read the undertaking scenario, whereby the participant occupation was to put to death a mediated undertaking to utilize an on-line mortgage reckoner made available by a Brazilian public bank. During the executing of the undertaking they had to give the undermentioned information about the mortgage ( harmonizing to the informations in the scenario ) : select, in a list, the edifice province ( RJ ) and the edifice metropolis ( Rio de Janeiro ) ; in a textbox, type the information: birthday ( 20/07/1974 ) ; household income ( R $ 1,500.00 ) ; constructing value ( R $ 100,000.00 ) ; down payment value ( R $ 20,000.00 ) ; financing term ( 300 months ) . Each piece of information was requested in a peculiar duologue window.

The participants executed the scenario undertaking through the duologues created in other stage of the experiment ( non reported in this paper ) by two writer profiles: HCI research workers making research about aged users, and instructors from the aged class mentioned before. These profiles were suited because both groups had adequate cognition about assisting elderly, non merely due to their activities of researching/teaching but due to the fact they had familiar members in similar state of affairs ( novice elderly computing machine users ) . Three elderly executed the undertaking through the duologues created by one of the HCI research and the other three, through the duologues created by one of the instructors.

Table 1 shows each duologue created to the mortgage reckoner undertaking, by both writers selected. Note that the first 1 created a welcome duologue, explained about the undertaking ; and a shutting duologue, complimenting the user and giving more information about the web site interface. Both duologues did non hold any input field, merely text. On the other manus, the 2nd Godhead did non created these particular duologues. As mentioned before, utilizing the duologue editor, the Godheads could put the Fieldss as numerical or pecuniary or day of the month and so on. Therefore, the cuts, periods and commas would be put automatically. The first Godhead set all textbox with the corresponding type, whereas the 2nd set merely the birthday field as day of the month. The presence or non of this scenes made differences in the aged interaction. About the uncertainties created, the first duologue writer created six inquiries and the 2nd created merely one.

Table 1 – Dialogues content

HCIresearch workerduologues


Welcome to the mortgage reckoner. Following, some information will be asked in order to we can execute the computation of your edifice. It is of import that the information informed is right. In instance of uncertainties, click the “Duvidas” button.


Choose the province where is the wanted edifice.


Choose the metropolis where is the wanted edifice.


Inform the value of the wanted edifice. Please, inform the value right. It is really of import to the concretion.


Inform the value of the familiar income.


Inform the value of the older individual considered in your familiar income.


Inform the down payment value you intend to pay in your edifice.


Inform the measure of months you intend to pay your mortgage. Harmonizing to this measure, the value of the installments can alter.


Praises. You performed the mortgage reckoner successfully. If you want to publish, utilize the “Imprimir” button.

Teacher duologues


Click with the mouse in the pointer holla and take your province


Click with the mouse in the index holla and take the metropolis where you live.


Write holla, in the white infinite, the value of the edifice you want mortgage.


Inform in the white infinite bellow your monthly income


Write in the white infinite bellow your birthday


Write in the white infinite bellow the value of your down payment.


Write in the white infinite bellow the figure of installments of the mortgage.

Talking about the participants, three of them had ne’er used a computing machine ( Internet included ) before get downing the categories. Among the staying three others, merely one ( a retired English instructor ) used to utilize the Internet until 2000 to seek for intelligence and other texts to use in categories. Furthermore, none of them had an ain computing machine at place and all of them were accessing it merely in the categories. Sing how long they were go toing the categories, two participants were in their first hebdomad, three were in the 2nd hebdomad and the last 1 in the 4th hebdomad.

The motives to start/re-learn to utilize computing machines were of assorted types. The retired instructor said: “Now that my grandson is eight old ages old and uses the computing machine, I ‘d better travel back to utilizing it” . One participant said she was really communicative and she intended to utilize frequently the electronic mail created during the categories and stated: “Everyone communicates by email” . Other participant, who was a librarian, said: “I could seek about books for the male childs in the library… ” Another 1 explained: “My boy lives abroad. I want to see my granddaughter through the Internet” . All these grounds ( chiefly kids and electronic mail ) have already been reported as common among aged intending to get down utilizing computing machines.


In this subdivision, we report the chief issues observed and consequences obtained from the experiment with aged. We remind that all of them had merely started larning how to utilize computing machines and the Internet. The subjects listed bellow discuss non merely proficient issues, like the interaction challenges they faced because the barriers in the web entree by aged has already been mostly reported ] . We discuss besides some psychological, cognitive and societal issues observed during the interaction with WNH and during the interview after the experiment. However, we highlight that the focal point is the semiotic position. We want to believe about the function of metacommunication in the procedure of assisting aged in executing the undertaking.

Critic thought

Is some occasions, we could appreciate the power of judgement and the critic and refined thought of some participants. One participant said that the inquiry about sweet formulas in the illustration undertaking was a sort of unneeded, since there was the account about the undertaking bounds in the welcome duologue. This fact showed us the attending she had reading all the texts and her critic thought. The message sent by de interior decorator ( in this instance, the duologue Godhead ) was considered excess by the participant. Another participant seemed a small spot leery… When we asked him if, in the hereafter, he would wish to hold the WNH installed in his computing machine, to assist him in his mundane undertakings on the Internet, he thought for a piece and said that he would hold to inquire to his son-in-law, who was the individual he most trust in computing machine issues, if WNH was the best option available to work out his jobs. This fact showed besides the dependence they ( and likely other elderly ) had on person of trust to do determinations related to computing machines. The WHN position of a person-to-person tool lucifers this world and how discussed in, the WNH was perceived during the experiments as a passage tool, assisting users to make their independence. The same participant had another concern: whether the sum of mediated undertaking available was representative for people demands in general. We explained him, that the thought was he could hold his ain undertakings mediated by the WNH installed in his computing machine, in a peculiar manner, non distributed.A A A A A A A A A A A A A


We could detect that insecurity in some minutes was a common felling among all the participants. This insecurity was noticed in assorted behaviours:

  • The participants frequently spent much clip believing about what to make, detecting the interface and reading carefully, looking for a hint. They waited for some action or feedback from the system, even when they did anything.
  • They frequently tried to look into what t/hey do before go oning the executing. One participant checked all the informations put in the duologue Fieldss with the information nowadays in the scenario. Others seemed to inquire us for permission to go on. One participant, before get downing the executing, chose the right undertaking and asked: “Is this? ” These facts showed us their apparent demand for verification all the clip.
  • When participants made some error, they were wholly lost. For illustration, two of them by chance selected a incorrect province and at foremost did non cognize how to work out the job.

The feeling of insecurity is natural and comprehendible, since they all were novices in the usage of computing machines and cyberspace. Nevertheless, the bulleted points represent minutes when the metacommunication is important to avoid or diminish this “thinking time” , this verification demand and this lost feeling. In SemEng, one says that these are instances of communicating ruptures tagged as “What now? ” , “What ‘s this? ” , “Where am I? ” , “What happened? ” etc [ 3 ] . These tickets correspond to existent inquiries that come to users ‘ heads when there are communicability jobs in the interface.

Free replies

During the filling of some Fieldss, participants showed a inclination for reply in a free manner, like as if they were make fulling out paper signifiers. For illustration, two participants tried to set the “R $ ” , when informing some pecuniary value in the duologues. Three participants tried to type “300 months” ( with the word “months” ) in the funding term textbox. Another one tried to type “three hundred” , alternatively of “300” in the same textbox. We highlight that these facts happened because the users received in some manner the message that make fulling in like this was allowed. In the instances when the duologue Godhead set the field type, these tests did non do jobs, because the participants realized that the letters were non looking. In other words, they get a message like “only Numberss allowed” from the interior decorator. Even if dialog Godheads decided non arrange the input field, they had the chance to explicitly explicate what had to be filled in. Both ( data format and account ) are illustrations of metacommunication creative activity ( or diversion ) in order to avoid this “free answers” behaviour.

Reading attending

The most of participants read the first one or two duologues really carefully, paying attending in each word. However, after traversing some duologues successfully they tended to read merely the input Fieldss ‘ labels. In some instances, the label reading was plenty to go on the undertaking, but in other instances, the deficiency of reading the whole instructions leaded the participants to errors. Coping with this behaviour is a challenge to dialog Godheads. On one side, they may give more account in the first duologues and give less in the following 1s. On the other manus, the deficiency of account ( to fit the reading behaviour ) may non be good to participants, in some instances. We suggest that Godheads should give account ever they consider necessary ( in the duologue window or in doubts subdivision ) , even if users are non read. Once more, this is a clear instance where the determination about metacommunication makes the difference in the user ‘s public presentation.

Technical interaction jobs

All the six participants had jobs utilizing the listboxes needed to choose the edifice province and metropolis. The more serious job was that the participants frequently did non acknowledge a listbox as an input component. For illustration, one participant clicked the “Continuar” button even before choosing the province in the list. The participant logical thinking might hold been the followers: he saw the petition “ … choose the city..” ; he saw the word “City” ( the input label ) ; he saw an object ( the list itself ) , where “Select — & gt ; ” was written ; and saw the “Continuar” button. He might hold thought: “Ok, I want to take the metropolis, so I ‘m traveling to continue” , inquiring that the minute of taking the metropolis would look after. In other words, the user received those messages by the interface ‘s marks. Possibly, if the text in the first option of the list was: “Click here to choose the city” , he would hold follow what was written and would hold seen the list points. Some other participants besides showed non acknowledge, at first, the listbox as an input component, because they took a long clip until recognizing that the list was clickable. One participant tried to snap the label “State” , alternatively of the list. Furthermore, when they could “open” the list, they did non cognize how to happen the wanted point, or, when they found it, how to choose it. Almost all of them could non utilize the coil saloon inside the listboxes easy. They did non cognize when chink the up and down pointers, since the way of the list was the contrary ( snap up to down the list and frailty versa ) . One participant, during her interaction, asked: “Here, is it in front or behind? ” Other trouble observed was when they eventually find the wanted point, they tried to choose it, by indicating the mouse pointer, but when they clicked to choose, the mouse moved and they by chance selected other province or metropolis. WNH editor has a characteristic of altering an original web site listbox to radiobutton or textbox, when Godhead justice applicable. Making like this, the writer is altering the interface mark, so the interface metacommunication as good, in order to avoid listbox interaction. If it is non the instance, the Godhead can still give proficient accounts ( more or less detailed ) about the usage of listbox, until the user gets used to this component. In fact, the simple instructions about listboxes in the instructor ‘s duologues ( see 2nd portion of Table 1 ) truly helped some participants to get down utilizing this appliance.

We could detect a slow manner the participants did some actions. They tended to look carefully for the Numberss in the keyboard and to snap the coil saloon arrows one by one, alternatively of maintain the mouse button pressed to speed up the list motion. Surely, this slow behaviour was non needfully a job, it was a peculiar feature of the profile, chiefly because of the small clip utilizing computing machines. By the manner, since they tended to look at the keyboard, some participants did non detect the automatic behaviour of the system in fill in the cuts in birthday field and the periods and commas in pecuniary Fieldss, i.e. , they did non have the intended interior decorator ‘s message about the automatic system behavior.A

One participant typed “3oo” ( with “o” ) , alternatively of “300” in the installments textbox. We believe that this happened because the keys are located really near in the keyboard. By arranging the input field, this job could be avoided to the participants who used duologues with formatted Fieldss ( created by the HCI research worker ) . Another less serious job happened when, after a peculiar action, a participant tried to type some Numberss, but the focal point was non in the textbox. This is a serviceability job easy fixable.

Learning groundss

Even fighting to make some actions, the participants of course learned during the procedure. For illustration, from a listbox to another, most of them showed some development. They already knew that the list was clickable or already cognize how to utilize the coil saloon pointers.

They besides learned from the errors. For illustration, one participant put semicolon alternatively of comma in the edifice value and the undertaking had to be restarted ( in this instance, the field type was non set by the duologue Godhead ) . The 2nd clip, she paid more attending and put the comma right. In other instances, when they realized the automatic behaviour of the system, in put cuts, periods and commas, they learnt that they did non necessitate to press these keys.

Interview high spots

Talking to each participant brought to us a valuable position about what they think about and what they struggle to make. The first issue is related to the personal demand they have. As talked before, the participants had different “external” grounds to get down larning to utilize the computing machine, but during the interview, we could recognize a large personal demand to larn. For illustration, one participant speaking about why she liked the WNH, said that voyaging with the assistant was easier and about whispering she said: “ … because there are some things that… I do n’t cognize how to make everything, understand? ” She looked a small ashamed to acknowledge that. Another participant, at the terminal of the interview, asked to us: “Then, was n’t I so stupid, was I? ” , clearly disquieted about her public presentation in the experiment.

However, the most of participants talked about the strong desire to larn they had. Some participants clearly showed the pride of know even a few things. One participant said: “Now, after the categories, possibly I go in front, because now I have a small thought, is n’t? Make you see that I ‘ve already keep the mouse… ” Other participant said: “ … but to who had ne’er got the computing machine, I can make some small things.” Another 1 was really proud of holding learnt how to utilize electronic mail, despite he did non cognize how to get by with fond regards yet.

The participants talked about their demands when larning computing machines and what they struggle to make, as aged users:

  • They need tonss of repeat. The instructor needed to reiterate the accounts more than one time. They had to make the same action many times to memorise.
  • They struggled to make the same undertaking in different computing machines. One participant talked about how she was disappointed when she tried to make something at place and was non successful because “all was different” .
  • They were cognizant that the acquisition procedure takes more clip. One participant stated: “For me, as an older individual, it has to be slower” .
  • One participant liked WNH because of its easiness of usage and explained: “It saves times, it is much, is n’t? We ne’er have clip, you know? Although being retired, we are non at a base, you know? ”

It is apparent how an handiness user agent like WNH is welcome to cut down these troubles and to assist elderly to make their undertakings and even to assist them to larn about computing machines and Internet, as we could see in the experiment.

Other issues

During the experiment, we could detect the jobs the participants had make fulling out web signifiers, in general. These jobs had already been cited by the instructors before, like jobs utilizing listboxes, checkboxes, radiobuttons. They said that the participants could cover with textboxes, links and buttons in an easier manner. We could see how the WNH, interrupting the interaction in stairss, truly helped the aged accomplish the undertaking ( more about it in ) .

We could see besides the importance of aid and feedback messages in the assistant. Those present in the interface were utile, those 1s absent were lack. The mistake bar and recovery was really of import as good, since aged novitiate in computing machines were more likely to do errors.

The usage of uncertainties, despite being a powerful resource, was really rare among the participants. Probably, this is a portrayal of the general wont people have in researching the interface and in seeking to work out jobs at that place, before appealing to an entirely help country, like the uncertainties subdivision in WNH. Nevertheless, in the individual instance this subdivision was used, it was utile and adequate to work out the participant job, demoing that, extra aid, in general, is welcome.

There were other instances in which the original metacommunication was changed by duologue Godheads in order to “better” communicate ( in their point of position ) the interface. Participants-creators changed some original looks. For illustration, the information about income, in the site was labeled “gross household income” , but one participant renamed it to “total value of familiar income” . The information about funding term in the web site was labeled “desirable term” . One participant renamed it to “number of installments ( months ) ” and another renamed it to “number of mortgage parcels” . Despite, we could non measure the advantages of these alterations in the experiment, it is deserving looking at the emanation of metacommunication in these instances. A


From an experiment ab initio performed to reply inquiries approximately WNH as an handiness agent, we could make and reply new inquiries, concentrating in the metacommunication in the WNH interface. We discussed the response of this phenomenon by the users and showed how it influenced the users ‘ public presentation.

We saw that the most troubles and barriers founded during interaction could be overcome by the manner duologue Godheads use WNH resources, including to re-write the original metacommunication, by supplying accounts and adding new information. We do believe this “power” over the metacommunication provided by WNH is the chief characteristic that could better the handiness in general. For illustration, the account provided and the changing of original looks made difference in the users ‘ public presentation.

We remind that WNH is non limited to be used by aged. Anyone who need some aid to execute web undertakings can be a possible WNH user. The aged were of import to this paper as they experienced the communicating procedure behind the duologues and showed us assorted illustrations about the metacommunication response. From the observations reported in this paper, it is possible to see some recommended waies to be followed by duologues writers during the creative activity procedure, believing on aged aid at first, but besides suited to other communities.

The treatment about the usage of computing machines by the aged, despite mostly present in the literature, remains a part of this paper, because it was done in a new context: the usage of an handiness user agent, that was declared as one of the spreads in handiness research for aged. Even so, people researching handiness for aged or people learning aged could do good of the consequences presented in this paper.

As future work, we can see that WNH can be used as a research tool about metacommunication. For illustration, we can utilize it to make experiments to measure if usability/accessibility guidelines are utile to users targeted. Interior designers could besides utilize the mediation theoretical account to measure metacommunication interfaces.

The usage of WNH to larning intents was besides a promising research country identified during the experiments.


We thank the voluntaries that helped us in this research…


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