In emerging economies you find small convenience shops in rural areas, called Spaza shops. These shops sell basic goods to the community, but are situated in remote areas.
Spaza shop owners have to close their shops and travel many kilometers to replenish stock.
This process is very time-consuming and costly. In 2009, the Rustica project was started in the Kgautswane community of Limpopo, South Africa to assist in overcoming this issue.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, cello8
Rustica Mobile App
Rustica is a basic mobile web application that provides Spaza shop owners with the capability to order products from wholesalers and have the products delivered directly to the shops in the community.
It is essential to have an easy to use application, because of the language barrier and literacy levels of Spaza shop owners. To improve the usability of the Rustica application, a usability study was done on the Rustica user interfaces by means of an Eye Tracker.
An eye tracker is an external machine that tracks the eye movements of a user on visual stimuli. Eye tracking technology is applicable in many different fields of study such as psychology, marketing, usability, etc.
Information such as heat maps and scan paths can be extracted. Different types of output can be used to give feedback to the analyst. By recording where a person is looking, you can map it to their cognitive thinking process and identify usability issues and efficiencies.
The users of the Rustica system were situated in the rural areas and were too far from the usability lab. To overcome this problem, users from a closer area, who fit the user profile, did the usability tests.
After the usability tests were performed, the results were analyzed. The results gave great insight into issues with the current user interface. These issues were addressed in the redesign of the user interface.
In the near future, these user interfaces will be adapted for Android devices. An interesting study would be to investigate the difference in usability of the Windows Phone 7 and Android interfaces.
Guest post by Jhani de Bruin, Research Associate, Global SAP Research & Business Incubation, and Desiree Klein, Editor, SAP Community Network.