Comparing Usability Standards for Arabic and English

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British University in Dubai
Users from all over the globe are attracted and use the World Wide Web and the websites are a new perspective of a truly global medium of communication. All users regardless of their background and origin should be able to experience the web with equal results in terms of content impact. Although most websites are in English today, but there are non-English speaking people living and working around especially in the Middle East. Therefore, the web should be easily enough to be used, accessed and understood by all users. The purpose of this research was to compare usability standards for Arabic and English websites. Dubai Municipality website was considered as a study case. The research for this paper included an extensive review of current literature on usability definitions, characteristics and benefits associated with usability, in addition to the usability criteria and cultural differences. The literature review also included a detailed description about the Usability Evaluation Methods, both the Inspection and Testing methods. Based on the review the usability criteria were determined and the Thinking Aloud testing method was selected as the usability technique for the research in addition to questionnaire. A total number of thirty participants, with defined user profile, were selected to carry out the experiment. The experiment tasks were based on eight hypotheses which were defined and tested. The experiment included ten scenarios or “real-life” tasks. On the other hand, the questionnaire subjects were based on identifying user profile, supporting experiment questions, website navigation, presentation layer, text size and overall quality. After analyzing the usability test and questionnaire, the major findings indicate that English is more practical than Arabic. Where users are more confident browsing the English version, which means that English website is more usable than Arabic. The recommendations on the factors which caused the Arabic website to be less usable than English such as content translation, text size, etc has been identified and steps on how to make the Arabic more usable has been recommended.
Arabic, usability, criteria, cultural markers, localization