The design and evaluation of industrial hypermedia
This thesis proposes design, authoring and evaluation methodologies to address the issues faced by an enterprise when developing a large-scale industrial strength hypermedia application, for use in a manufacturing environment. The design methodology satisfies the requirements found in the industrial environment in a holistic approach. That is, the methodology takes into account the information structures, the constraints that exist within the industrial environment, and the background of the people who will have to implement the hypermedia application. The size and complexity of an industrial environment aggravates the problems found in general hypermedia authoring, especially in the areas of scalability, re-use and cognitive overload to the author. Hence, an authoring methodology is present, which addresses these issues. The design and authoring methodologies are evaluated against an independent set of criteria. The results show, even after sensitivity analysis, that when compared against other methodologies, the methodologies presented in this thesis are the ones better suited to meet the requirements of an industrial application. The design and authoring methodologies have been used to produce an industrial hypermedia application. The application communicated with existing information systems, factory floor equipment and the management network. The application has been used to evaluate the usability of the system within the factory environment. A cost effective user evaluation methodology was developed. Not only did it allow potential problems to be identified early in the project, but it also encouraged ownership of the project from the managers, maintainers and factory-floor operators. The user evaluation showed that, compared to an existing paper based system, the user preferred the hypermedia system and that they found the hypermedia application quicker and easier to use. While the majority of problems to be overcome, when introducing industrial strength hypermedia, are technical, some of the most difficult issues relate to the inertia of the management culture within the organisation. Hence, the strategic benefits and considerations when introducing hypermedia application into an organisation are discussed. In addition a model for estimating the effort to produce an industrial hypermedia application, has been developed.