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Adapting Web 1.0 Evaluation Techniques for E-Government in Second Life

Alla Keselman, Victor Cid, Matthew Perry, Claude Steinberg, Fred B. Wood, and Elliot R. Siegel

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 6, Issue 4, August 2011, pp. 204 - 225

Article Contents


This project suggests that using Web 1.0 evaluating methods for Internet performance, usage, usability, and user feedback in Second Life is possible and can produce useful results. Pilot testing verified that many Web 1.0 metrics (or measurable variables) are either directly applicable to Second Life (e.g., user satisfaction) or have Virtual World analogues (e.g., number of interactions with an object vs. a number of clicks). Most Web 1.0 methods for measuring the variables are also applicable to Second Life.

While most methods and metrics are applicable, their application requires some modification. Of the four evaluation dimensions that we have reviewed, translating assessment of user feedback is the most straightforward, while the others are considerably more challenging. Some challenges have to do with the relative youth of the VW platforms, reminiscent of the early days of the Web, before universal interface design principles, standardization of user expectations, and proliferation of commercial assessment tools and services. Others are related to the complexity of 3-D topography and the complex, social nature of the experience. Compared to Web 1.0, Second Life experience, even in educational and informational regions, is less about the shortest path to the information and more about engagement, socialization, and exploration. The influence of socialization on the experience needs to be better understood, as a positive force that needs to be harnessed in service of the user and as a variable that needs to be controlled.

While suggesting that evaluation of Second Life applications is feasible and potentially informative, this project also tells a story of many successful and some unsuccessful adaptations of Web 1.0 evaluation methods. We hope that these will serve as useful tips for usability practitioners venturing into virtual worlds, as well as contribute to defining the researchersí agenda on assessing user experience in virtual worlds and identifying new variables that affect this experience.


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