Usability/Requirements SWAT


  • Focus on improving the usability of the module
  • Ensure there has been an effective prorogation of requirements given by the community, NGOs and other partners


  • Chamindra [at] opensource [dot] lk
  • Pradeeper [at] opensource [dot] lk

What is Usability?

Usability is a term used to denote the difficulty with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal. Usability can also refer to the methods of measuring usability and the study of the principles behind an object's perceived efficiency or elegance.

In human-computer interaction and computer science, usability usually refers to the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a web site is designed.

Reference: Wikipedia

Usability Perspective

  • Who are the users, what do they know, and what can they learn?
  • What do users want or need to do?
  • What is the general background of the users?
  • What is the context in which the user is working?
  • What has to be left to the machine? What to the user?
  • Learnability
  • Efficiency of use
  • Memorability
  • Few and non-catastrophic errors
  • Subjective satisfaction

Example Specifics

  1. Will the target user be able to understand the navigation on this page
  2. Do the page and content titles properly descibe the page for the target user
  3. Are the links and actions (e.g submit/links) off this page well described
  4. Is the terminology intuitive and are abbreviations explained
  5. Is there sufficient help on the page for a completely new user
  6. Is potentially sensitive data being shown to users who should not be privy to such information
  7. Can the range of data privacy/protection needs been addressed when access control lists are enabled

References & Standards

Sahana Specific Usability Tips

The following tips have been gathered based on SWATs on various Sahana modules

  1. The home page should have a good description as well as a few initial links on module actions to get people started using the module.
  2. Add next steps and guides in the confirmation message
  3. Add an example of what should be filled in a grayish color
  4. Put an asterisk before the required field
  5. Help item should describe the function and not be obvious
  6. For hierarchy based lookups use google directory type implementation with descriptions
  7. Font sizes should be consistent

Module Reviews

Catalog System Review

Last Review: 5-OCT-2007 | Reviewed by: Chamindra & Pradeeper


  • Some aspects of the catalog system should be in the admin section. Such as add units and unit types
  • Admin
    • Item Catalog

Add main catalog

  • Description is not clear
  • No need to divide into two boxes
  • Keyword in second position
  • Description box should be bigger
  • confirmation. New Catalog added. Add a link to goto main catalog. Add additional guidance to help perform the next step (URL).
  • Re word the help text
  • Add an example area
  • Display list of existing catalogs (limited to 20)


  • Change sub-catalog to “item category” as it makes it more intuitive

Add sub catalog

  • Select parent category should be the main purpose of the first page
  • Description needs to get updated
  • Select root category → select main catalog
  • Select sub catalog → select item category
  • Make select root category and sub catalog one box
  • Use google directory based hierarchy search and display + descriptions
  • Put the search box at the top
  • Use a browser based approach to browse catalogs, categories and items so that you can get to a point adding, deleting items,

View and Edit

  • Modify view and edit page as the main page
  • add actions to add categories, items, units using icon based for add / delete / edit catalog / category and item. And also the same functionality should exist in the edit page of the the item or category.
  • Color difference should exist between catalog, category and item
  • add units and the ability to modify them to the list
  • Columns are Name (more info - i), Type, Unit, Add/Edit: Item Category Unit

Inventory System

Last Review: 5-OCT-2007 | Reviewed by: Chamindra & Pradeeper

Home page

  • Should also have links to actions
  • Instead of recently added items, use statistics, alerts and warnings on the home page

Find items

  • Covert it to catalog list based directory approach
  • Main level is inventory
  • Sub areas are key items and statistics
  • Search is based by inventory name, location and owner details
  • Require the totals of the items per inventory
  • Columns will be Item, total, reorder level,

Add Items

  • Add better descriptions and light grey examples
  • Add item comes from the browse based exploration of inventory. Because of this inventory and item category will be automatically selected
  • Add re-order level here itself based on a per-item
  • Requires a item code (barcode or serial)
  • require the details of the person who provided the item originally. An org or contact.

Transfer Items

  • First we need to create a convoy / “shopping cart”
  • Then allocate inventory items to the convoy / “shopping cart”, sorted by the time it came in (so that old items go out first)
  • Destroyed items are transferred to the “rubbish bin” “convoy”
  • Convoy should capture basic details, with owners and contacts
  • Convoy status: Empty, loading, loaded, In transit, unloaded, accepted

View Convoy

  • Items in transit by convoy and status


  • View inventory locations on a map
  • Find items → Search items
  • Add inventory should be in the admin section
  • Add/List items becomes a sub action of a browse of items

Organization Registry

Last Review: 23-OCT-2007 | Reviewed by: Roshan & Haniffa

Sahana Home page

  • The introduction to the Organization Registry needs rephrasing to convey the exact meaning of what it is.

e.g. Organization Registry - Lists who is doing what & where. Allows relief agencies to self organize the activities rendering fine coordination among them.

Organization Registry Home page

  • Organization Registry home page table header 'Please Register' need to be changed or deleted.
  • Under the 'Please register' table header, the sentence, 'Registering your organization allows us to know who is doing what wh…' has to be either deleted or modified since it provide no information on how to register an organization.
  • Table header 'Last 5 organizations to register' should be changed to 'Recently registered organizations'. List is not limited to 5 entries either.
  • First item of the bulleted list, 'Capturing a comprehensive list of meta data on an relief …' - the word meta data has to be replaced by a simple word like 'information'
  • Pie chart and the chart's legend: The legend has to be right aligned relative to the chart. Otherwise the legend will overlap the chart.


  • Under the 'Primary details' of 'Search for Organizations by Name,Type,Service and Location', the help: 'select the services your provide…' should be corrected as 'Select the services you provide…'
  • Paging issue in Search section: When performing a search as, Organization type=All, Organization sector=All, several results pages will be created. No fixed number of entries per page and entries include mixture of Organizations as well as Departments/Branches.


  • Register an Organization(Logged as administrator): Under primary details - 'Organization name is required , but registration no is optional'.Better to avoid abbreviations as much as possible. The 'registration no' should be corrected as 'Registration Number'
  • Under the help item of 'Registration Number', it says, 'If your organization is registered, please enter your registration number'. This section has to be changed. If you have a registration number, you have already registered. In that case you don't have to register again. Does this mean any other registration number?
  • 'Organization sector' help: '… e.g. if you offer medical services select it'. User confusion might occur since 'medical services' is not included in the list provided there.
  • 'Base location' help: It uses the words 'populate' and 'hierarchical' these might be difficult to be understood by non IT savvy users. Instead of hierarchical, 'consists of different levels' and populate, 'pass the informations to' could be used. Needs attention to spelling mistakes.
  • Area Map of 'Register an Organization' and 'Register a Department/Branch' doesn't provide adequate information for the user on how to select a location. A help topic should be included, e.g. “You can move around the map and enlarge/reduce the size of the visible area using the scale on upper left corner of the map. Left mouse click on the map area will allow you to add a pointer indicating your location. If you want to remove the pointer, again left click on the pointer. When you mark your location on the map, it will automatically converted to latitude and the longitude information of your location”
  • When user completed the process of registering a Department/Branch, data will be successfully written in to the database. However there will be an error message due to missing file '' in the the specified location, inc/lib_secuirity. This might be confusing to a user.
  • Register a Department/Branch: Information bar 'Your Organization might be having branches or carrying out relief …' has a different background color (ash/silver), which is not seen in the other parts of the site. Uniformity is breached.
  • Under the 'Parent entity' of registering a department/branch, the meaning of 'Parent entity' should be explained more. How about replacing the word 'entity' with 'organization'?

View and Edit

  • Needs navigation links to go to previous page ( please see under navigation below )


  • Needs navigation links to go to previous page ( please see under navigation below )


  • Should have 'Back' navigation links in 'Search', 'View and Edit' and 'Reports' sections, if user wants to go back to previous page without completing the action.
  • What about having each modules' home and main home listed at different locations-is it OK or bad feature when it comes to usability? e.g. If user is in the Organization Registry, there is a 'Organization Registry home' in the light blue color section of the menu and 'Sahana home' in the gray color section of the menu. A new user might confuse the module's home for main home and user might repeatedly try on module's home link until he/she see the link for the Sahana home.

How about bringing module's home link to the bottom of the module's menu, so that user might spot both homes since they are closely situated?

Request Management System

Last Review: 24-OCT-2007 | Reviewed by: Roshan & Haniffa


  • RMS general introduction: Needs rephrasing as follows - Sahana Request Management System is a central online repository where all relief organizations, relief workers, government agents and camp sites for displaced personnels can coordinate the supply of the aids with the demand. It allows users to allocate the available resources to fulfill the demands effectively and efficiently.
  • First bullet of the 'Features Includes' uses the word 'meta data'. The word meta data can be replaced with the word 'information'.


  • Make New Request:Under 'New requester', 'Available card type' and 'card number' could be changed as 'Identification Source' and 'Identification Number'. Can include a help to explain what are the identification source that can be used in this purpose as well.
  • Under 'Select Request Location', 3 radio buttons have not grouped with the label 'Location Type', though the word 'location type' is used in the help.
  • 'Select Request Location' help uses words 'Existing Location' and 'New Location' which is not in the user interface. So help can be altered as, 'Please select the location type. Then select the location form the list below. If the required location is not in the list please contact your system administer to add the new location to the system.“
  • Request location of Requester Information: Map doesn't provide enough information on how to navigate and record location. Help can be included for the map as, “You can move around the map and enlarge/reduce the size of the visible area using the scale on upper left corner of the map. Left mouse click on the map area will allow you to add a pointer indicating your location. If you want to remove the pointer, again left click on the pointer. When you mark your location on the map, it will automatically converted to latitude and the longitude information of your location”
  • Location and location ID are not passed to the next phase of the process even though the location pointers appear on the map.
  • Adding new items needs attention in following areas of New Item » Catagory.
  1. Non food item : list is empty
  2. Food and Nutrition: repeatedly use same drop down list for 'Sub category' and 'Item'. May cause user confusion.
  3. Health kits : what is EMOC kit? Is it EmOC (emergency obstetrics care) kit?
  4. Medical equipments: list is not functioning
  • Catagory-Food and nutrition, sub catagory-Dry Food : If an 'Item' selected once, another request of same item is not allowed to enter by the very same user again. So better to add link to Edit the request so that user can modify the request based on his changing requirements.
  • 'Non Food Items' and 'Health Kits':Request can be submitted without specifying Sub category. Then 'Item' name will be empty even though 'Quantity' and 'Item Priority' is shown in the list.
  • If requester logged again, he can't see his previous requests and when another request is made, previous requests are ignored and only the most recent entry is shown. However, all the entries are written to the database.
  • Search Requests:'Search Keyword' field is not marked with * to indicate it is mandatory. If user keeps the input box blank, it gives an error message. It violates the consistency of the site.
  • Search Requests: The search is not functioning. Better to include help on search criteria and what kind of a “keyword” is needed to perform a search.


  • If repeated pledges have been done, only the last pledge is shown. All entries are written to the data base.
  • New pledge can do without providing category. Then 'Item' field will be empty but 'Quantity' will be shown.
  • 'Search Pledge' is not functioning. It also not marked with * to indicate mandatory nature and help might be needed on what are the keywords that can be used in searching.


  • Fulfill Request - 'Allocate items from the selected pledge to the request': if 'Quantity' field was kept blank, there will be a (too technical) error message giving details of mysql quarry. Thes error message should be customized.
  • Fulfill request » Request Fulfillment status: mod/rms/ due to errors in the file ~mod/rms/


  • Needs link to navigate 'Back' from Request » Search and Request » Request fulfillment status»Select to fulfill.

Search criteria for Requests and Pledges_

  • Request - Users should allow to search requests under following criteria: Category, Priority, Status and All the requests (for the administrative work)
  • Pledges - Pledges can be searched by : Category, Priority and Status. All pledges can be seen by Admin. Admin can grant permission for each user category to access pledges and requests details.

Missing Person Registry

Disaster Victim Registry

QR Code
QR Code swat:req (generated for current page)