Lessons Learned from Evaluating the Usability of Mobile Spreadsheet Applications

  • Derek Flood
  • Rachel Harrison
  • Claudia Iacob
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7623)


It is estimated that 90% of all the analysts in business perform calculations on spreadsheets. Due to advances in technology, spreadsheet applications can now be used on mobile devices and several such applications are available for platforms such as Android and iOS. Research on spreadsheets revolves around several themes, but little work has been done in evaluating the usability of such applications (desktop or mobile). This paper presents lessons learned and usability guidelines derived from laboratory usability testing of mobile spreadsheet applications. Twelve participants were given a task to be solved using a mobile spreadsheet application and based on the video recordings of their interactions with the application patterns of recurring actions and sequences of actions were derived. Navigation, selection, feedback, and transparency of features were some of the main themes in the results of the testing, pointing to a set of guidelines which are also generalizable across other types of mobile applications.


Mobile applications usability guidelines 


  1. 1.
    Hermans, F., Pinzger, M., van Deursen, A.: Supporting professional spreadsheet users by generating leveled dataflow diagrams. In: Proceedings of ICSE 2011, pp. 451–460 (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Winston, W.L.: Executive education opportunities. OR/MS Today 28(4) (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Flood, D., Harrison, R., McDaid, K.: Spreadsheets on the move: An evaluation of mobile spreadsheets. In: The European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group Annual Conference (2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burnett, M.M., Gottfried, H.: Graphical definitions: expanding spreadsheet languages through direct manipulation and gestures. ACM Trans. Com-Hum. Interact. 5(1), 1–33 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Abraham, R., Erwig, M.: How to communicate unit error messages in spreadsheets. In: Proceedings of the First Workshop on End-user Software Engineering, pp. 1–5 (2005) Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Abraham, R., Erwig, M.: Inferring templates from spreadsheets. In: Proceedings of ICSE 2006, pp. 182–191 (2006)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kankuzi, B., Ayalew, Y.: An end-user oriented graph-based visualization for spreadsheets. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on End-user Software Engineering, pp. 86–90 (2008)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rothermel, G., Burnett, M., Li, L., Dupuis, C., Sheretov, A.: A methodology for testing spreadsheets. ACM Trans. Softw. Eng. Methodol. 10(1), 110–147 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ginige, A., Paolino, L., Sebillo, M., Shrodkar, R., Vitiello, G.: User requirements for a web based spreadsheet-mediated collaboration. In: Proceedings of AVI 2010, pp. 133–136 (2010)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zhang, D., Adipat, B.: Challenges, Methodologies, and Issues in the Usability Testing of Mobile Applications. International Journal of Hum-Comp. Interaction 18(3), 293–308 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Geven, A., Sefelin, R., Tscheligi, M.: Depth and breadth away from the desktop: the optimal information hierarchy for mobile use. In: Proceedings of MobileHCI 2006, pp. 157–164 (2006)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schmiedl, G., Seidl, M., Temper, K.: Mobile phone web browsing: a study on usage and usability of the mobile web. In: Proceedings of MobileHCI 2009 (2009)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shrestha, S.: Mobile web browsing: usability study. In: Proceedings of Mobility 2007, pp. 187–194 (2007)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kjeldskov, J., Graham, C., Pedell, S., Vetere, F., Howard, S., Balbo, S., Davies, J.: Evaluating the usability of a mobile guide: the influence of location, participants and resources. Behaviour and Information Technology 24(1), 51–65 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jones, M., Marsden, G., Mohd-Nasir, N., Boone, K., Buchanan, G.: Improving Web Interaction on Small Displays. In: Proc. WWW-8, pp. 1129–1137 (1999)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Burigat, S., Chittaro, L., Parlato, E.: Map, diagram, and web page navigation on mobile devices: the effectiveness of zoomable user interfaces with overviews. In: Proceedings of MobileHCI 2008, pp. 147–156 (2008)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Flood
    • 1
  • Rachel Harrison
    • 1
  • Claudia Iacob
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations