Journal of Software Engineering and Applications, 2011, 4, 465-475
doi:10.4236/jsea.2011.48053 Published Online August 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and
Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Waralak Vongdoiwang Siricharoen
Computer Science Department, School of Science and Technology, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok, Thai-
Email:, lak_warala k
Received May 23rd, 2011; revised June 20th, 2011; accepted June 28th, 2011.
Human computer interactio n (HCI) and software engineering approach es are always taken into th e account toge ther in
order to make the well-organized softwar e. Interactive design is the significant part of new media which has been pro-
posed to the world for the past decades, and it is a very proficient technique. Interactive maps add more dimensions of
information; they become a more and more helpfu l tools and resources. This research clarifies the idea of how we ca n
smooth the progress of presenting and communicating the essential info rmation using interactive manner. The intera c-
tive map of Bangkok underground train and sky train navigation routes map was developed as the case study using
user-centered design (UCD) methodology as the fundamental developing processes. The main objective of the work is
to develop the friendly and usable web based software that reduce the confusion and help users save times. The soft-
ware developing processes in this work tend to focus on the users. And also the essential idea of the research is to take
the uses and gratification communication theory of the users into account with the intentio n of providing what user re-
quires by finding the real users requirements. This means the user can control software according to their needs and
software act or response according to users requests. The paper mentions the role of communication theory, human
computer interactio n, and user-centered desi gn software de veloping.
Keywords: Interactive Communication, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), User-Centere d Design (UCD), Software
1. Introduction
Human-computer interaction is a discipline concerned
with the design, evaluation and implementation of inter-
active computing systems for human use and with the
study of major phenomena surrounding them”. This is
the HCI definition according to ACM SIGCHI Curricula
for human-computer interaction; this definition has two
basic parts; the machine or computer part and the human
part. It brings the focus on application design and engi-
neering, psychology, sociology, anthropology, industrial
design, robotics, mechanics, and physiology. To further
explain this human-computer interaction other aspects
and concerns can be examined [1]. Very simply states
that HCI “is the study of interaction between people (us-
ers) and computers. It is an interdisciplinary subject, re-
lating computer science with many other fields of study
and research [2].”
The center of HCI is interaction between humans and
computational machines. The computational machine can
be in the form of embedded computational machines,
such as parts of any technology device such as computer
games; or systems that cover the user’s minds, such as
virtual environments. Not only a computer people, who
work with computers are forced, have computer knowl-
edge, and are ready to forget weaknesses in the interface.
But also computer users are variety from children to the
Speaking of humans, some say that “to err is human”
because humans born to slippery or intently do some-
thing wrong, it is human nature. Thus there is no surprise
that errors can occur when humans work with computa-
tional machine. In order to study how human and com-
puter interact, we need to know the basic concept of hu-
man computer interaction. In the Figure 1 is a very rec-
ognized; it shows how human and computer react to each
other in a development process. The Figure1 1 is copied
from a computer science perspective; human-computer
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Figure 1. The nature of human-computer interaction.
Adapted the ACM SIGCHI curricula for human-computer
interaction [4].
interaction involves transducers between humans and
machines based on the assumption that humans are sensi-
tive to response times. As Greenberg wrote in the docu-
ment adapted from section 2 of the ACM SIGCHI Cur-
ricula for HCI, ACM Press [3] that Human Computer
Interaction consists of 4 main parts are: “1) The uses and
context of computers within our society. 2) Human char-
acteristics govern how people work and how they are
expected to interact with machines. 3) Computer system
and interface architectures both support and constrain
the types of interfaces we build. 4) The development
process looks at how we design, implement, and evaluate
The “design approaches” in the development process
is taken into the consideration in this research. The UCD
approach is chosen to utilize for the design approach.
The main contribution of the paper is to indicate the
similarity between user-centered design in human com-
puter interaction advance and audience-centered design
in communication approach; both approaches definitely
focus on the users/audiences as the primary concerns. As
a result if the real requirements of the users are addressed
and taken into the consideration evidently, this will in-
crease the software efficiency and usability in acco rdance
with the requirement of the users who help creating the
software. The result software would be appropriate and
easy-to-access for the users. Adding the ownership of the
software is also the key point of UCD software develop-
ing. Because when the users get involved in the develop-
ing processes from the beginning, it can automatically
increase their participation and ownership of the software.
The acceptance of the product would be possible at the
end. These are the main contributions of this research.
The paper adopts the revisited communication theory in
the next section. The third section mentions the interac-
tion manner. The fourth section is clarification of UCD
software developing processes. The last section is the
conclusion and r e commendation.
2. Revisited Communication Theories
Human sometimes, communicate with oneself by think-
ing called intrapersonal communication. As also see in
Figure 1; the nature of human computer interaction that
Language, Communication is an essential part of interac-
tive manner of human and computer.
Figure 2 is the unique Shannon and Weaver’s com-
munication model was introduced as the first communi-
cation system in the classic Shannon information theory.
In general, the communication theory is divided a com-
munication event into five different parts:
1) The sender of the message (S),
2) The message (M),
3) The channel or medium of the message (C),
4) The receiver of the message (R),
5) The interpretation of the message by the receiver.
For any message system from computers linked, we
can identify and evaluate the following basic components,
sometimes referred to as the S-M-C-R model [5]. In this
research, the created software is made available on the
Internet which in this case is the medium or channel to
deliver the content within web site as the messages, web
servers act as senders, users are receivers. Internet has
become an important part in daily life. It allows people to
communicate, bank, shop and entertain. The global net-
work of the Internet, for instance, connects people and
information via computers [6]. The Internet as a commu-
nication medium strongly reduces the differences be-
tween people from around the world, by permitting them
to exchange their views, belief, and information.
The uses and gratifications theory is an accepted ap-
proach to understanding mass communication. The uses
and gratifications theory is the theory which explains of
how people use media for their need and gratification.
Also this theory is contradictory to the magic bullet the-
ory which states the audience is passive. The theory is
Figure 2. The components of a communication system and
their relations hips [5].
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing 467
focus on the consumer, or audience, instead of the actual
message itself by asking “what people do with media”
rather than “what media does to people” [7]. The uses
and gratifications follow a basic model which is an audi-
ence-centered approach. When an audience actively
seeks out media, they are typically seeking it with the
purpose of fulfill a need. Most of the theories on media
explained about the effects media had on people. Ac-
cording to uses and gratification theory, people make use
of the media for their specific needs. This theory can be
supposed to have a user/audience-centered approach.
Even for communication (say intrapersonal), people refer
to media for the topic they discuss with themselves. They
gain more knowledge and that is knowledge which got
by using media for references. There are several needs
and gratification for people; they are categorized into
five categories2
Cognitive needs: People use media for acquiring
knowledge, information. With the search engine;
people can search any topics under the run with no
time limit.
Affective needs: People use new media (Internet) to
satisfy their emotional needs.
Personal Integrative needs: People use media to reas-
sure their status, gain credibility and stabilize. So the
people change their life style and media helps them to
do so, such as use Internet to publish their profiles.
Social Integrative needs: It encompasses the need to
socialize with family, friends and relations in the so-
ciety. The social network program such as Facebook
or Twitter helps people keep in touch with their
friends and families.
Tension free needs: People sometimes use the media
as a means of escapism and to relieve from tension.
People can relax while playing game computer.
These theories are very interesting and also are the re-
search motivation. For software developing technique;
the researcher focus on UCD which is very similar to
audience-centered approach and the uses and gratifica-
tion theory. General ideas is that the concept of audience
centered approach is related to UCD in the sense of both
approaches intend to capture the user’s need as the im-
portant key. As mentioned earlier, the objective of the
work is to construct the software which allows the user to
use and interact with the software according to their
needs, rather than with only the software can offer the
user to do.
3. Interactivity
England and Finney [8] mentioned in their report that
Interactive media is the integration of digital media
including combinations of electronic text, graphics,
moving images, and sound, into a structured digital
computerized environment that allows people to interact
with the data for appropriate purposes. The digital envi-
ronment can include the Internet, telecoms and interac-
tive digital television”. In the simplest of terms, interac-
tive media is any type of media that user can interact
with. Whether it is a mobile phone, television or a web-
site, as long as users are interacting with a piece of digi-
tal technology, it then comes under the phrase “Interac-
tive Media”3. Interactivity can be considered as a central
concept in understanding new media, but different media
forms possess different degree of interactivity [9], even
some forms of digitized and converged media are not in
fact interactive at all. Tony Feldman [10] considers digi-
tal satellite television as an example of a new media
technology that uses digital compression to increase the
number of television channels that can be distributed, and
which changes the nature of what can be offered through
the service, but still does not transform the experience of
television from the user’s point of view, as it lacks a
more fully interactive dimension. On the other hand; the
internet definitely changes the user’s point of view in
term of interactivity. User can use and connect to the
function or content in the web freely. Therefore this can
fulfill the interactive manner of the information, because
the user (receiver) can be the sender at the same time. It
means that the user or audience is no longer passive
spectator anymore; they can manage the content within
the web site themselves as they want.
Interactivity has become a key for numbers of new
media use options evolving from the rapid dissemination
of Internet access point, the digitalization of the media,
and media convergence. Rice defined the new media as
communication technologies that enable or facilitate
user-to-user interactivity and interactivity between user
and information [11] such as Internet replaces the
“one-to-many” model of traditional mass communication
with the possibility of a “many-to-many” web of com-
munication. Any individual with the appropriate tech-
nology can now produce his or her online media and in-
clude images, text, and sound about whatever he or she
chooses [6]. The new media with paradigm shifts of
technology and the model of mass communication forms
the ways people cooperate and communicate with others.
The growth of Internet and web technology over the
10 years has exposed an enormous opportunities to in-
troducing information and data online. One of the most
rapidly improving tools for interactive presentation is the
map [12]. Interactive maps on the Internet present data
most effectively when they invite action from the user
[13]. These are advantages that traditional print maps do
not have. If a print map is not clear initially, a person can
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
do nothing about it. The shift from static print maps to
dynamic web-based mapping applications is revolution-
izing the dissemination of geographic information by
accelerating communication, broadening access, and
permitting seemingly li mitless interactivity [14-16]. Web-
based mapping was selected as the medium of commu-
nication to the target user for its efficiency, interactivity,
and the high proportion of internet users among the target
group [17-19].
The usual map navigation functions are other than
panning and scrolling, there are many interestin g ways to
present digital maps. Mixing and matching most of these
methods are possible; one does not necessarily prevent
use of others. For example; Drill-Down, Timeline, Zoom
in-Zoom out, Before and After, Point of Interest and
other thing else which got it from users’ requirement. In
this case, interactive maps are considered as informa-
tional tool. The Internet and digitization of information
represents an interesting improvement to print maps.
Used in combinatio n of surveys an d user feedb ack, maps
can become an almost real-time representation of infor-
mation [13].
There are now many of interactive map all around the
world provided for the audiences to see and browse be-
fore they go to the destination. Google Maps is the most
people’s first idea of mapping software. Google Maps
provides an online solution to pinpoint locations on the
map by simply typing in an address or using latitude and
longitude coordinates. However, Google Maps does not
provide an easy solu tion if you need to set area in differ-
ent color, or display information upon mous e roll over on
the destination [20]. For the people who want to travel by
using tran spo rtatio n in an y destinatio n around th e wo r lds,
beside using Google Maps which is sometimes provide
too much information and do not show the transportation
route clear enough. They need to see the whole path of
transportation and know how to trav el around by it. Most
of the interactive maps which are contain everything
which the tourists need to know; however, it is not easy
to navigate and very complex in term of serving th e users
with computer-usage sk ill differences and it take ti mes to
click through the map to find the destinatio ns.
The key is to make the information not only useful but
easy to navigate. Some maps can make the route distinct
from the background to make it clearer for the users as
seen in private web site in Figure 3; however, the infor-
mation shown in the map is not suitable for every user or
not enough. Nivala had studies the usability aspect of
interactive map [21] which can be concluded as follow-
ing: one of the central findings of her work was a realiza-
tion of the relevance of user-friendly interactive maps
based on true, meaningful user requirements. Also her
thesis shows a usability evaluation of four web mapping
sites, user requirements for web maps were identified and
discussed. It was concluded that the main aspects requir-
ing attention in the design of web maps are:
1) User interfaces (visualization, layout and function-
2) Maps (visualization and tools)
3) Search operations (logics, default settings, results,
route searches and visualization of results)
4) Help and guidance provided to users. As map ser-
vices are decidedly visual in nature, distractive adver-
tisements and messy user interfaces were observed to be
particularly detrimental for these sites.
The main purpose of these functions is to provide an
interface that can be accessed through a standard web
browser, allowing everyone who has Internet access to
use the system. It is also designed to provide all of the
functionality of the system through a single, easy-to-use
4. Web Designing Processes
When a current interface is being redesigned or a well-
polished manual system is being automated, reliable data
about the distribution of task frequencies and sequences
is an enormous asset [22]. In less well-defined projects,
many designers have found day-in-the-life scenarios
helpful to characterize that happen when users perform
typical tasks. During the early design stages, data about
current performance should be collected to provide a
baseline [23] .
Now let’s take a look at designing for the web itself.
There are many sets of web design guidelines, design
case studies and studies of web users and use. Showing
interaction of data is easier when th e user can change the
visuals. With online interactive maps, the simple action
such as moving sliders around reveals relationships be-
tween data and content. Panning and zooming are fun-
damental to the interactive map as mentioned earlier.
These actions enable the user to focus their browser on
the amount of information that they are comfortable with.
In many online maps, instead of having to refer to an
explanation of the symbol in the margins, the us er simply
clicks on a point to find out more about it [13]. The re-
sults in fewer steps and less eye movement are to accom-
plish the same goal. Th is can be referred to the Fitts’ law,
(as in (1)) is a robust model of human psychomotor be-
havior, it was proposed by Paul Fitts of Ohio State Uni-
versity in 1954. Mathematically, Fitts’ law is stated as
log2 2
Tab AW (1)
MT = movement time
a,b = regression coefficients
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Figure 3. The interactive map of BTS and MRT in private web site.
A = distance of movement from start to target center
W = width of the target
The model is based on time and distance. It enables the
prediction of human movement and human motion based
on rapid, aimed movement, not drawing or writing.
Moving less is better. It seems spontaneous that move-
ment time would be affected by the distance moved and
the precision demanded by the size of the target to which
one is moving.
In this research, we need suitable methodology to
bring the traditional maps of Bangkok underground train
and sky train to make it interactive. UCD were chosen as
the similarity between UCD and audience-centered ap-
proach, this can make interactive map efficiently and
well created. UCD is a flexible process for software de-
velopment projects that enables teams to more effectively
meet the needs of users and customers [24]. In this ver-
sion, the UCD activities are broken down into simple
four phases: Analysis, Design, Implementation and De-
ployment, with suggested activities for each phase [25].
In analyzing process; Analysis activities include all user
and task analysis as well as coordination with business
requirements analysis. The UCD approach suggests that
designers serve as “user advocates” throughout the de-
sign/development process [26,27].
UCD process is just as important in web site design
and it is in software design [23]. Interview user and focus
group techniques were useful in this stage. User ques-
tionnaires are familiar, inexpensive and generally ac-
ceptable companion for usability tests and expert’s re-
views. The keys to successful questionnaires are clear
goals in advance and development of focused items that
help to attain those goals. Experienced questionnaire
designer knows that care is also needed during design,
administration, and data analysis [22]. “user-centered
design” is to suggest that designers need to take care of
users. Being human-centered, the semantic turn clearly
embraces user concerns [28]”. Putting the user at the
center of the design and development process for infor-
mation; it can guarantee that a usable communication
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
will be brought to the customer. Knowing the users;
technical communicators can use the UCD process to
support them in gathering information about their audi-
ence. All of the questions from questionnaires are appro-
priate for focus sessions, surveys, or other require-
ments-gathering activities that may take place as part of
the overall UCD process [29]. In some projects, which
use the methodology such as waterfall model; the analy-
sis activities are completed before any design is begun.
However, in UCD is using a phased or iterative applica-
tion development methodology, the analysis, design and
evaluate activities are repeated for each phase. In this
research, after getting the system requirements from in-
terview and questionnaires; the developers pull out the
similar users’ needs from both two groups of users. The
first group is the users who familiarly use Bangkok un-
derground and sky train. The other group is the users
who do not familiarly use the trains. The software are
also included the all of user’ requirements functions
which can be captured during the interview, focus group,
and questionnaire’s answers to build this interactive
functional map as the tool of information route navigator.
Typically, the first round of analysis covers the ap-
proach such as collecting an interaction model that go
with the user’s mental model, while later steps focus on
detailed task analysis for specific functions. In this case,
the requirement of users will give the needed functions of
the interactive maps to the developers. And the develop-
ers carried them to deliberation in design phase. The de-
sign phase is one of the most iterative. It begins with a
simple key screen prototype and continues until all criti-
cal design decisions are made. In this research the de-
veloper create the prototype screen and shown them to in
both group of users. They made the request on some
small changes in detail; however, mainly functions and
designs are not changed. Typically, this development of
prototypes was built from main menus or home page to
contain the design ou tline or style guide for all screens to
support the pro duct f unct i o nality [30].
The main functions of the software which are gathered
from the users in both two groups are shown in Table 1 ;
the functions that users need in the system are for exam-
ple; the difference of each train route (at the moment,
there are three main train routes in Bangkok), fares, sta-
tion names in Thai and English language, etc [23].
The outcome of final prototype show how the system’s
functions were completed in the system which is the us-
ers’ need. The selected route will be active differently
from the inactive route, along with the information: arri-
val-departure station names, cost (fares), and time. The
zoom-in zoom-out button that the users need and they are
the important functions for the interactive map also
shown in Figure 4 and Figure 5.
Table 1. The most desirable functions are (in descending
Functions Unfamiliar
users Familiar
1. The difference of each route 85% 75%
2. Fares 50% 45%
3. Station names 45% 25%
4. The route connection between
underground and sky train 30% 15%
5. Traveling time 30% 45%
6. Route distinction from background 15% 15%
7. Printable 10% 10%
8. Zoom in and Zoom out 5% 5%
9. Clear text presentation 5% 15%
10. Thai-English language
representation 5% 10%
Figures 6-8 show the options of how the user can se-
lected route by clicking on the map or selecting from the
drop down menu on the left hand side of the map.
The active dot show in Figure 9 present the selected
station (original or destination station) which the users
what to know about its information represented in blink-
ing dot and different color to make th em distinct fro m the
5. Conclusions and Recommendation
The professional practice of interactive design deserves
more attention from new media and communication
scholars [27]. The objective of this work is to get to
know the user and translate what we known into princi-
ples and recommendation that the designers could under-
stand and use. This is user-centered design (UCD) proc-
ess. Human computer interaction join with human +
computer + interactive. In this work, the major contribu-
tion is to create th e software that fit for the groups of the
users (40 users; 20 users are unfamiliar and the other 20
users are familiar to the Bangkok underground and sky
train). This research shown that in Thailand; the digital
divide is still existing, the requirements which got from
the users, are the real requirements of the system, it
works well for the experimental group of Thai users. The
author clarifies human or users as the receiver in com-
munication theory and considers the Internet as the new
media and medium with lively/interactive messages.
However, it is difficult to create the system which make
user satisfy and pleased to use. Consequently the user-
centered design approach was applied to iden tify the real
user requirements. This can be interpreted in uses and
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Figure 4. Screen interactively show the content which user selected.
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Figure 5. Zoom in-zoom out function.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing 473
Figure 6. Route Selection by using Menu or Button of the first BTS line.
Figure 7. Route Selection by using Menu or Button of M RT line.
Figure 8. Route Selection by using M e nu or Button of the sec ond BTS line.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Exploiting User Centered Design Approach and Interactivity in Web Based Software Developing
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSEA
Figure 9. Showing the position of train station by blinking.
gratification theory as well which is called audience-
centered approach. UCD processes concentrate on users
through the planning, design and development of a soft-
ware product. In subject of communication, in order to
compose persuasive, user-centered communication, the
developers should gather as much information as possi-
ble about the people who access and use the map. Audi-
ence may consist of variety of people and their needs and
expectations. User is the center; they have power to se-
lect media and message. They take charge of kind and
presented message they want by selecting buttons/menus
or position of stations which they want to see the infor-
mation or the route of the original to destination. The
idea of user-centered design includes the following con-
cepts [31]: 1) Always take audience into account. 2)
Consider your users based on: their prospects, their
characteristics, their goals, and their context. 3) Identify
information readers will need and make that information
easily accessible and understandable 4) Make your page/
documents believable.
The final outcome of the work is to find the way to
communicate or sending the message from sender to re-
ceiver efficiently and can support real need and goals
with scientific tool which is the Internet. In the future,
the system can be expended to the new group of disabil-
ity and elder people who are lack of computer skill as
recommendation. Clearly the use of interactive has a
great deal of participating, and to understand how these
new media might be helpful in term of communication.
6. Acknowledgements
The author would lik e to show appreciation to Un iversity
of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) for funding
this research.
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