Journal of Medical Systems

, 41:137 | Cite as

Usability Evaluation of a Private Social Network on Mental Health for Relatives

  • José Miguel Toribio-Guzmán
  • Alicia García-HolgadoEmail author
  • Felipe Soto Pérez
  • Francisco J. García-Peñalvo
  • Manuel Franco Martín
Patient Facing Systems
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Latest Technology Trends in Health Sciences (TEEM 2016)


Usability is one of the most prominent criteria that must be fulfilled by a software product. This study aims to evaluate the usability of SocialNet, a private social network for monitoring the daily progress of patients by their relatives, using a mixed usability approach: heuristic evaluation conducted by experts and user testing. A double heuristic evaluation with one expert evaluator identified the issues related to consistency, design, and privacy. User testing was conducted on 20 users and one evaluator using observation techniques and questionnaires. The main usability problems were found to be related to the structure of SocialNet, and the users presented some difficulties in locating the buttons or links. The results show a high level of usability and satisfaction with the product. This evaluation provides data on the usability of SocialNet based on the difficulties experienced by the users and the expert. The results help in redesigning the tool to resolve the identified problems as part of an iterative process.


Usability testing Heuristic evaluation Social network Information system Patient care system Web 



This research was performed under the University of Salamanca Ph.D. Program on Education in the Knowledge Society ( and supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte under the FPU fellowship (FPU014/04783), the Research Group in InterAction and eLearning (GRIAL) (, and the INTRAS Foundation (

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (grant number FPU014/04783).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


  1. 1.
    ISO 9241–210, Ergonomics of human-system interaction - Part 210: Human-centred design for interactive systems. International Organization for Standardization, 2010.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hertzum, M., Images of usability. Int. J. Hum. Comput. Interact. 26(6):567–600, 2010. doi: 10.1080/10447311003781300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kemp, S., Digital in 2016. We Are Social,, Singapore, 2016.
  4. 4.
    Naslund, J., Aschbrenner, K., Marsch, L., and Bartels, S., The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiol. Psychiatr. Sci. 25(2):113–122, 2016. doi: 10.1017/S2045796015001067.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    García-Peñalvo, F.J., Franco Martín, M.A., García-Holgado, A., Toribio Guzmán, J.M., Largo Antón, J., and Sánchez-Gómez, M.C., Psychiatric patients tracking through a private social network for relatives: development and pilot study. J. Med. Syst. 40(7):Paper 172), 2016. doi: 10.1007/s10916-016-0530-5.
  6. 6.
    Fernandez, A., Insfran, E., and Abrahão, S., Usability evaluation methods for the web: A systematic mapping study. Inf. Softw. Technol. 53(8):789–817, 2011. doi: 10.1016/j.infsof.2011.02.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gulati, A., and Dubey, S.K., Critical analysis on usability evaluation techniques. Int. J. Eng. Sci. Technol. 4(3):990–997, 2012.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Toribio-Guzmán, J.M., García-Holgado, A., Soto Pérez, F., García-Peñalvo, F.J., and Franco Martín, M.A., Heuristic evaluation of SocialNet, the private social network for psychiatric patients and their relatives. In: García-Peñalvo, F.J. (Ed.), Proceedings of the fourth international conference on technological ecosystems for enhancing multiculturality (TEEM’16) (Salamanca, Spain, November 2–4, 2016). ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp. 525–532, 2016. doi: 10.1145/3012430.3012568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nielsen, J., Molich, R., Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, 1990. ACM, pp. 249–256.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hermawati, S., and Lawson, G., Establishing usability heuristics for heuristics evaluation in a specific domain: Is there a consensus? Appl. Ergon. 56:34–51, 2016.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hwang, W., and Salvendy, G., Number of people required for usability evaluation: the 10±2 rule. Commun. ACM. 53(5):130–133, 2010. doi: 10.1145/1735223.1735255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nielsen, J., Finding usability problems through heuristic evaluation. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, 1992. ACM, pp. 373–380.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hollingsed, T., Novick, D.G., Usability inspection methods after 15 years of research and practice. In: Proceedings of the 25th annual ACM international conference on Design of communication, 2007. ACM, pp. 249–255.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Toribio Guzmán, J.M., García-Holgado, A., Soto Pérez, F., García-Peñalvo, F.J., and Franco Martín, M.A., Study of the Usability of the Private Social Network SocialNet using Heuristic Evaluation. In: Moreno López, L., Rubia Cuestas, E.J., VMR, P., and García-Peñalvo, F.J. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Interacción ‘16 Proceedings of the XVII International Conference on Human Computer Interaction (Salamanca, Spain — September 13–16, 2016). ACM, New York, NY, p Article 22, 2016. doi: 10.1145/2998626.2998674.
  15. 15.
    Nielsen, J., Heuristic evaluation. In: Nielsen, J., and Mack, R.L. (Eds.), Usability inspection methods, vol 17. Vol. 1. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 25–62, 1994.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pierotti, D., Heuristic evaluation-a system checklist. Xerox Corporation, 1995.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vermeeren, A.P., van Kesteren, I., Bekker MM Managing the’Evaluator Effect’in User Testing. In: INTERACT, 2003.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nielsen, J., Success Rate: The Simplest Usability Metric. Accessed 27/04/2017, 2001.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Iberian Institute for Research in PsychosciencesINTRAS FoundationZamoraSpain
  2. 2.Computer Sciences Department, Research Institute for Educational Sciences, GRIAL Research GroupUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryZamora HospitalZamoraSpain

Personalised recommendations