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Title: A study of interface requirements of Chinese social network sites
Authors: Su, Lijin
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: The increasing popularity of social network sites (SNSs) indicates the willingness of people in China to perform social activities online. Understanding the interface requirements of local people is important in designing SNSs. Technical surveys related to Chinese SNSs have regularly been conducted in recent years. However, most of these studies have stressed the development, cultural differences and profile models of Chinese SNSs over their interface status. To meet increasing online demand, SNS systems must provide more multifunctional tools and simplify their interactive processes. An appropriate interface design may contribute to the improvement of SNSs. It is necessary to study what kind of SNS interface designs are enjoyed by the people in China, and why. This study aims at identifying the interface requirements of SNSs in China. Its main research targets are Renren, Kaixin001, Pengyou and Qzone as the representative SNSs. A theoretical framework of interfaces is proposed as a basis for investigations. In this framework, a website interface can be considered as the point of interaction between a user and a system, in terms of two main factors, usability and visual aesthetics. The issue of usability is related to the effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction, error tolerance and operational learnability, and visual aesthetics enhances the experiences by using design elements and visual arrangements. Based on this theoretical framework, this study tested the interface requirements relating to the usability and visual aesthetics of the SNS sites mentioned above. I begin this thesis by discussing the visual aesthetic preferences of SNS users. I administered surveys to the users of SNS to determine what kind of design styles the Chinese users like, in terms of overall presentation and individual design elements. I then conducted a usability evaluation to determine the operational problems and usability of the chosen Chinese SNSs. I also performed a case study to further understand the relationship between website usability and visual aesthetics, and to ascertain the design elements affecting website usage. Finally, I built a website to evaluate the effectiveness of this framework. The results of my study indicated that a solid style line design with 1 px in size was largely suited to Chinese SNSs users, who preferred easy to use icons and a simple style of interface design. In terms of general aesthetics, the users largely preferred browsing the content from top to bottom rather than from left to right. They liked simplicity in the interface design for browsing photos, and showed a relatively low need for examining the text pages. The participants thought that the Chinese SNSs were generally straightforward to use. My study also revealed that most of the usability problems were related to website learnability. The users wanted the operations to be more consistent with their experiences. Navigation, links, buttons and layout designs were found to be directly related to website learnability. This study contributed to enriching interface design knowledge with Chinese SNSs, with a basis research framework that can be further extended. The empirical results of this study clarified the interface requirements within this framework, and communicated the idea of importance of interface design among Chinese SNSs.
Subjects: Online social networks -- China.
User interfaces (Computer systems)
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: 160 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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