A method for creating web GIS assessments from the user perspective
Hienen, D. van
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Web GIS assessments differ, because of the varying product characteristics, user types and user goals. Assessment developers have to invent the wheel repeatedly, because a standardized method is lacking for web GIS assessments from the user perspective. The following research question is formulated to develop a method that guides assessment developers through the process: what is an appropriate standardized method for developing web GIS assessments from the perspective of the user? Within the field of software quality assessments, a standardized method involves an approach to define quality in small parts of the product and use their definitions to create an assessment. Hence, assessment developers define what needs to be evaluated from a pool of product characteristics. Developers can translate the selected web GIS characteristics into statements, which users can rate on the level to which they agree. The resulting statement ratings can be analysed and compared. The assessment method consists of six steps and is developed for two case studies, Floodlabel (n = 109) and GeoWeb (n = 37). The first is product of a research project, namely a prototype web site for informing Dutch homeowners about flood risks and mitigation. The second is an application of Sweco, which is used for advanced GIS-implementations. For both case studies, a questionnaire is created and analysed by following an assessment method. That method includes a step-by-step approach to define the research set up, define the questionnaire content, create an online questionnaire, and generate and interpret the results. All steps are based on the literature background section, which discusses what is understood as a web GIS, a standardized assessment and how the user perspective can be included. This study’s conclusion is that the method is appropriate for creating web GIS assessments from the user perspective. Using the rating scale set up ensures a consistent questionnaire, which can be easily understood by respondents. With the four sub steps to write out the questionnaire statements relevant web GIS characteristics can be assessed. The final ratings can be generated easily and used for comparing user groups and product characteristics. However, it must be acknowledged, that a successful application depends on the developer’s ability to select the most appropriate web GIS characteristics, write the statements out clearly and understandable, provide sufficient user guidance for participating to the research, avoid GIS jargon and provide definitions. After all, this study has taken a first step for developing a standardized web GIS assessment method. Yet, the method should be examined by more researchers and applied for non-scientific purposes as well. That would lead to more insights in what an appropriate method is, how it can be applied, and which challenges occur. The method is ready for application on a much wider scale and, hence, developing to a standardized guidance for anyone who wants to assess a web GIS.