Designers’ ontologies and applications usability evaluation framework for unified virtual market platform
Khaoya, Muyobo Daniel
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Virtual product and process development is viewed as one of the most promising business strategies, which can address global competition. Consumers around the world are now able to establish and maintain connection, regardless of their locations, through virtual market applications. This has generated new dimensions through which, consumers access content. In recent years, the development of ontologies has been moving from the Artificial-Intelligence Laboratories to the desktops and smart phones of domain experts. The designs and usability aspects need to be considered in order to facilitate a unified virtual market platform. The purpose of this study was to investigate designers’ ontologies and usability of Virtual Market applications and develop a framework that realizes a Unified Virtual Market Platform. The objectives of the study were; to examine existing designer ontologies for designing virtual Market applications, investigate the levels of users’ competencies against various designers’ ontologies on virtual market applications, and establish the relationships between ontologies and user characteristics across different virtual market platforms in Kenya. The study adopted a mixed research design, involving case study and experimental designs. The study collected both descriptive and inferential data. The study Targeted designers, consumers and virtual market applications. Purposive sampling technique was used in selecting designers, consumers and virtual market applications from the sample frame. The sample population size for this study was obtained using Cochran formula n=z2pq/e2. Which was estimated to be 196 consumers, and 7 popularly used applications to represent the population. The data was collected through content analysis, questionnaires, questioning protocol, focus group discussion and think-aloud protocol. Face validity and content validity validation was done to ascertain the validity of the research instruments. Reliability of the instruments was tested via a pilot study. The researcher acquired a research permit from relevant bodies before proceeding to data collection. During data collection, 200 questionnaires were administered out of which 125 were completed and returned for analysis. The researcher also collected a complementary result via a focused group discussion which comprised 18 members. Privacy of the respondents’ data was protected during and after the study. The primary analysis of the collected data was done using descriptive statistics. Confirmatory analysis was done using inferential statistics. The major findings were as follows; that though many applications are designed to make virtual market platform a reality, design factors such as payment modes, security and ontology mapping, user characteristic factors and usability factors are not adequately addressing the needs of the market. The user characteristics were evaluated through usability heuristics factor and usability directed by user competence on task completion. The study came up with a unified Virtual market platform framework for virtual market platform. The framework was presented to thirteen (13) experts to test its reliability, validity and acceptance. This was to simplify the access to products and usability of various virtual market applications. The researcher concludes that; the virtual market applications are not popularly used in most parts of Kenya since most people fear that they do not guarantee security of the product quality, delivery and are subject to frauds. Other than perception, competence and attitude towards design and usability of virtual market application, especially understanding the consumer’s attitude; further researches to be carried on factors affecting consumer access to products on virtual market may be of great value to the virtual market platforms.
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