The trained and untrained users’ mental models compatibility with the icons of search modules in Iranian digital library applications

Published date19 June 2017
Date19 June 2017
AuthorSanaz Rahrovani,Mahdieh Mirzabeigi,Javad Abbaspour
subjectMatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
The trained and untrained users
mental models compatibility with
the icons of search modules in
Iranian digital library applications
Sanaz Rahrovani, Mahdieh Mirzabeigi and Javad Abbaspour
Knowledge and Information Science Department, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the trained and untrained usersmental models
compatibility with search module icons in three Iranian digital library applications, namely, Nika, Azarakhsh,
and Simorgh.
Design/methodology/approach The population of this survey consisted of two groups including trained
and untrained users. The trained user group consisted of 174 samples, all of which were included in the study
due to scarcity of the samples. The untrained user group consisted of 8,210 samples, from which 267 cases
were selected through stratified sampling.
Findings Results showed that the trained usersmental models were more compatible with the search
module icons than those of the untrained users. The comparison of three software applications showed that
the mental models of trained and untrained users had the highest compatibility with the search icons of
Azarakhsh and the lowest compatibility with those of Nika. Concerning the untrained usersstatus in terms
of their fields of study, results showed that users majoring technical and engineering field and those in
agriculture had, respectively, the highest and lowest mental models compatibility with the icons embedded
in the user interface of the studied applications.
Originality/value Since the mental models may be incomplete or inaccurate, the study of the trained and
untrained usersmental models compatibility with the search module icons of user interface embedded in
various library applications may help in assessing the softwarestatus and the designerslevel of success
in conveying the content. This also may assist information literacy specialists to estimate the required
amount of training for trained and untrained users.
Keywords User interface, Mental models, Icons, Iranian digital library applications, Trained users,
Untrained users
Paper type Research paper
Since 1960, when the first library software generation appeared, many changes have
occurred to the capacities of library software packages. During these years, software
designers have tried to make user interfaces more user-friendly and easier to deal with.
User interface should provide an appropriate context for users with different personal,
social, and cognitive characteristics to interact. As a result, various individual features of
users, and the vast number of elements in the user interface, including embedded terms and
icons, can affect usersinteraction and satisfaction as well as the system efficacy.
Numerous studieshave been conducted from two perspectives, i.e. user characteristics and
user interface elements. The main results of studies investigating user characteristics show
that different factors, including computer literacy, experience of working with software,
knowledge domains, cultural factors, etc. can affect usersunderstanding and satisfaction of
working withthe software (Michell and Dewdney,1998; Zhang and Chignell, 2001; McDougall
et al., 2001; Zerehsaz et al., 2006; Nowkarizi et al., 2007; Hashemzadeh and Ye ganefar, 2010).
Most studies on the user interface elements concluded that the status of these elements is
not satisfactory. They recommend software designers to seriously consider usersneeds in
order to achieve an optimal interactive environment (Suaiman and Meadows, 1995; Zerehsaz
and Fattahi, 2006; Nowkarizi et al., 2007; Nowkarizi and Tabarsa, 2009; Gatsou et al., 2012).
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 35 No. 2, 2017
pp. 290-302
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-06-2016-0071
Received 27 January 2016
Revised 29 October 2016
Accepted 31 March 2017
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