Ihnissi, Ragab Basher (2017) Investigation of a Novel Formal Model for Mobile User Interface Design. Doctoral thesis, The University of Huddersfield.

Mobile user interfaces are becoming increasingly complex due to the expanding range of functionalities that they incorporate, which poses significant difficulties in software development. Formal methods are beneficial for highly complex software systems, as they enable the designed behaviour of a mobile user interface (UI) to be modelled and tested for accuracy before implementation. Indeed, assessing the compatibility between the software specification and user requirements and verifying the implementation in relation to the specification are essential procedures in the development process of any type of UI. To ensure that UIs meet users‘ requirements and competences, approaches that are based on interaction between humans and computers employ a variety of methods to address key issues.

The development of underlying system functionality and UIs benefit from formal methods as well as from user-interface design specifications. Therefore, both approaches are incorporated into the software development process in this thesis. However, this integration is not an easy task due to the discrepancies between the two approaches. It also includes a method, which can be applied for both simple and complex UI applications. To overcome the issue of integrating both approaches, the thesis proposes a new formal model called the Formal Model of Mobile User Interface Design (FMMUID). This model is devised to characterise the composition of the UI design based on hierarchical structure and a set theory language. To determine its applicability and validity, the FMMUID is implemented in two real-world case studies: the quiz game iPlayCode and the social media application Social Communication (SC). A comparative analysis is undertaken between two case studies, where each case study has three existing applications with similar functionality in terms of structure and numbers of elements, functions and colours. Furthermore, the case studies are also assessed from a human viewpoint, which reveals that they possess better usability. The assessment supports the viability of the proposed model as a guiding tool for software development. The efficiency of the proposed model is confirmed by the result that the two case studies are less complex than the other UI applications in terms of hierarchical structure and numbers of elements, functions and colours, whilst also presenting acceptable usability in terms of the four examined dimensions: usefulness, information quality, interface quality, and overall satisfaction. Hence, the proposed model can facilitate the development process of mobile UI applications.

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