The Eighth ACM International Hypertext Conference

Southampton, UK
April 6-11, 1997




Franca Garzotto, Politecnico di Milano

Paolo Paolini, Politecnico di Milano/University of Lecce


Half Day


This course will introduce the attendees to methods and criteria to critically read and systematically analyze, test and evaluate, hypermedia applications. After this course, participants will be able to look more rationally and critically at existing applications, rationalizing the good aspects of design choices, detecting inconsistencies and suggesting potential improvements. Attendees will also be able to articulate more precisely requirements and design choices of hypermedia applications.

The course is based upon the "reading" of a variety of hypermedia applications (approximately, from 4 to 6 commercial applications, 2 or 3 research prototypes, from 2 to 4 WWW applications) in a wide range of domains, including products for education and training, museums, tourism, entertainment, as well as hypermedia encyclopedias, catalogues, interfaces to hypermedia databases.

Applications will be analyzed according to a design-oriented evaluation method. Opposed to "user-oriented" evaluation commonly applied in usability testing, design-oriented evaluation primarily examines the internal strength of the design underlying an application. Design- oriented evaluation couples a systematic analysis of the application based on a hypermedia design model, with general usability criteria (such as consistency, richness, self-evidence, predictability), independent from the application area(s) and user tasks. Also relevant in the analysis Is the correlation of the design choices with the "consumption" situations.

In this course, HDM96 is used as design model, and the W5 model (Who, What, Why, When, Where) is used to describe fruition situations. The proposed method of analysis, however, is completely general, and other models could be used.


Initially some applications will be presented, establishing a few general concepts.

Next the state-of-art for evaluations of Hypermedia applications will be (very) briefly surveyed. Usability criteria will be defined, and the needed Design concepts introduced. After explaining the W5 model, to describe fruition situations for hypermedia applications, the features of design oriented evaluations will be introduced.

The core of the course will be the "reading" and analysis of hypermedia applications. For each applications the different aspects of design will be analyzed, and the consistency with the fruition situation on one side, and the implementation on the other side, discussed. The goal is twofold: to detect good aspects and choices, possibly to imitate; to detect weaknesses and "bugs", certainly to avoid. When weakness, inconsistencies and bugs appear so often, even in commercial application: the origin can often be traced to weakness in the design, development and testing process.



Limited exposure to hypermedia applications is useful, but not strictly required.


The approach presented in these courses is the result of many years of experience, gained by the instructors, in developing and analyzing hypermedia applications and tools (both in research and industrial environments) in various fields - technical documentation, decision support systems, education, training, information points, museum exhibitions, multimedia interfaces to information systems. The technical approach proposed in this course have been successfully tested by researchers and developers, from companies and research institutions in several countries.


Franca Garzotto is Research Associate at the Department of Electronics and Information, Politecnico di Milano, where she presently serves as Managing Director of the Hypermedia Laboratory. She has a Degree in Mathematics from the University of Padova (Italy) and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Politecnico di Milano. She has been active in the following research fields: data base systems, conceptual modeling of documents, hypertext and hypermedia modeling, hypermedia authoring systems, multimedia development tools, multimedia evaluation. She has been involved in various ESPRIT research projects in the above fields. She was tutorial chair of ECHT'90 and ECHT'92, and member of the program committee of the conferences ACM HT'91, ACM HT'93, ACM ECHT'92, ACM ECHT'94, ACM MM'95, ICHIM'95, ACMHT'96, ACM MM'96. She served as Program Chair of the International Workshop on "Hypermedia Design", held in Montpellier - France in June 1995 ( in cooperation with ACM SIGLINK, INRIA, CWI, and GMD). She served as Co-Chair (with Manfred Thuring) of the International Workshop on "Evaluation and Quality Criteria for Multimedia Applications", held at the ACM conference on multimedia - MM'95 - in San Francisco - CA, November 1995.


Paolo Paolini is Full Professor at University of Lecce (Italy) and Technical Director of HOC-Hypermedia Open Center at Politecnico di Milano. He has a Master and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has been active in the following research fields: data base modeling and systems, programming languages, distributed data bases, data bases views, hypertext and hypermedia modeling, hypermedia authoring systems, multimedia application development tools. He has been technical responsible of various European research projects in the above fields, with research grants from the European Commission. He served as General Chair of the ACM international conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia in 1992 (ECHT'92). He has been member of the Program Committee of various editions of VLDB'xx, ACM ECHT'xx, and ACM HT'xx conferences, and is currently Associated Editor of ACM Transactions on Information Systems(TOIS).

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