Journal of Data and Information Science ›› 2017, Vol. 2 ›› Issue (3): 49-67.doi: 10.1515/jdis-2017-0014

• Research Paper • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Digitizing Dunhuang Cultural Heritage: A User Evaluation of Mogao Cave Panorama Digital Library

Xiao Hu(), Eric M. Y. Ho,Chen Qiao   

  1. Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
  • Online:2017-08-23 Published:2017-08-25


Purpose: This study is a user evaluation on the usability of the Mogao Cave Panorama Digital Library (DL), aiming to measure its effectiveness from the users’ perspective and to propose suggestions for improvement.

Design/methodology/approach: Usability tests were conducted based on a framework of evaluation criteria and a set of information seeking tasks designed for the Dunhuang cultural heritage, and interviews were conducted for soliciting in-depth opinions from participants.

Findings: The results of the usability tests indicate that the DL was more efficient in supporting simple information seeking tasks than those of higher-complexity levels. Statistical tests reveal that there were correlations among dimensions of usability criteria and user effectiveness measures. Moreover, interview discourses exposed specific usability issues of the DL.

Research limitations: This research is based on a relatively small sample size, resulting in a limited representativeness of user diversity. A larger sample size is needed for a systematic cross group comparison.

Practical implications: This study evaluated the usability of the Mogao Cave Panorama DL and proposed suggestions for its improvement for better experience. The results also provide a reference to other cultural heritage DLs with panorama functions.

Originality/value: This study is one of the first evaluating cultural heritage DLs from the perspective of user experience. It provides methodological references for relevant studies: the evaluation framework, the designed information seeking tasks, and the interview questions can be adopted or adapted in evaluating other visually centric DLs of cultural heritage.

Key words: Mogao Caves, Cultural heritage, Usability, Dunhuang, Panorama digital library