User behavior and frustration

Finding Governmental Statistical Data on the Web: A Case Study of FedStats
Irina Ceaparu
Pages 1-17

Over 70 United States federal government agencies collect and store statistical data that are made available to the general public over the World Wide Web. A common portal with an easy-to-use interface was designed starting in 1997 to ensure that the general public could find appropriate data tables and reports easily. This study analyzes the FedStats Web site to determine its usefulness to citizens, by way of a usability test with 15 subjects who responded to three scenarios. The results show that out of 45 attempts, only 7 were successful in finding the correct answer. Also, more than 50% of the subjects reported dissatisfaction and high levels of frustration with the Web site's usefulness and ease-of-use and with the lack of results they obtained. The article recommends incorporating into the Web site accessibility and universal usability design principles that could improve the dissemination of statistical information.

2. Help! I’m Lost: User Frustration in Web Navigation
Jonathan Lazar, Katie Bessiere, Irina Ceaparu, John Robinson, Ben Shneiderman
Pages 18-26

Computers can be valuable tools, and networked resources via the Internet can be beneficial to many different populations and communities. Unfortunately, when people are unable to reach their task goals due to frustrating experiences, this can hinder the effectiveness of technology. This research summary provides information about the user frustration research that has been performed at the University of Maryland and Towson University. Causes of user frustration are discussed in this research summary, along with the surprising finding that nearly one-third to one-half of the time spent in front of the computer is wasted due to frustrating experiences. Furthermore, when interfaces are planned to be deceptive and confusing, this can lead to increased frustration. Implications for designers and users are discussed.

3. Serving Citizens’ Needs: Minimizing Online Hurdles to Accessing Government
Eszter Hargittai
Pages 27-41

With the rapid spread of the Internet across society, government institutions are taking advantage of digital technology to distribute materials to citizens. Is merely having a Web site enough, or are there certain usability considerations site creators must keep in mind to assure efficient public access to online materials? This project looked at typical people's ability to locate various types of content online, in particular, their ability to find tax forms on the Web. Findings suggest that people look for content in a myriad of ways, and there is considerable variance in how long people take to complete this online task. Users are often confused by the ways in which content is presented to them. In this paper, two common sources of confusion in users' online experiences with locating tax forms online are distinguished: (1) URL confusion and (2) page design layout. Ways are also suggested to decrease these two sources of frustration, yielding less exasperating and more productive user experiences.