Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Technical Meeting - WP3 – Meeting with Sahithi Siva on 5th October 2011

On the 5th October 2011 Sahithi and Eamonn met to discuss progress so far, and consider some new ideas which we might implement within eRaUI. First of all, we saw a demonstration of the new DOM element-relative user behaviour tracking, which has been designed to greatly improve the accuracy of tracking versus the previous system which was page-relative. We viewed the action of eRaUI user behaviour tracking on the current NaCTeM feedback form, and saw how it is possible to track user keypresses.

We discussed producing some new video demonstrations of the current functionality of eRaUI including a tour of the mechansism by which data is recorded into the eRaUI central database. These shall be available on the eRaUI blog shortly.

We considered a couple of different ways to broaden the functionality of eRaUI in such a way as to make the interface upon over which it is deployed more adaptive to user needs. The first method involves manipulating the DOM of the web page currently being viewed in such a way as to change the visual precedence of items which are likely to be of more interest to the user, based upon their current interaction with the interface so far. For instance, elements which are unlikely to be of interest could be obscured completely while elements of likely interest could be made larger or highlighted. This can all be achieved dynamically via javascript manipulation of DOM elements.

The second method considered to make the interface more adaptive is to allow an element of administrator-user interaction via the widget. Administrators could be made able to view users' interactions with the interface in real-time and assist those users who might be in need of help, for instance by means of a text chat area. This is standard practice in many commercial websites already, however eRaUI tracking capability could make it far easier for administrators to become aware of the precise nature of users' difficulty in navigating or using an interface for a specific task. Mouse pointer emulation in real-time could be used to allow adminstrators to demostrate to users how to perform specific tasks.

We also discussed the use of window panes with eRaUI in order to present information which the user might be looking for in a cascading window format. The precise form this will take is yet to be established.

We have therefore decided upon four separate ways in which it would be possible to enhance the adaptability of a user interface so as to serve the needs of individual users. These are:

- suppression and highlighting of elements with the DOM of the interface web-page according to user-relevance.

- facilitation of administrator-user assistance by means of text conversation and mouse emulation

- suggestion of relevant links and autocomplete capability of the eRaUI widget search box

- A combination of all of the above approaches.

It has been established, therefore, that current development of eRaUI will focus upon the prototype implementation of the above 4 mechanisms of enhancing interface adaptability. Once completed to prototype level, we shall attempt to discover the viability and usefulness of each of these options by getting users to try them.

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