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Designing an e-philanthropic website for the Saudi user

Assas, Roaa Ibrahim (2015) Designing an e-philanthropic website for the Saudi user. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Philanthropy is an important part of Saudi Arabia’s identity as it is linked to the country’s religion and culture. Even though nobody can deny how crucial philanthropy is for Saudis, it is not reflected virtually on the Internet. This PhD aims to enhance philanthropy by putting it in a virtual context. Online philanthropy is known as e-philanthropy and this research documents the design of an e-philanthropic tool that is appealing to users in Saudi Arabia. Its aim is to design an interactive website where users can communicate with each other to meet their specific needs. It explores the nature of philanthropy in the Saudi context and employs human-centred design and user-centred design approaches to create a website in support of this. It is based on qualitative and quantitative data collection from recipients of philanthropy and those who take an interest in the topic. This resulted in the design brief for a new ephilanthropic tool based on time giving, a concept closely related to time banking and something that, to date, has not been launched in Saudi Arabia. As time banking is the closest concept to that of time giving, this project investigated time banking as a philanthropic tool in other contexts. The design of the website for the Fair Shares time bank in the UK was analysed as a source in order to benefit the new project. This was achieved by using Agarwal and Venkatesh’s (2002) Microsoft Usability Guideline, which was reformed by Pallud (2002). After investigating Saudi culture, the concept of time banking and the design features of a website in the field, the researcher-designer then created a time giving website named “Joud”, a word which means liberality and generosity in Arabic. The process of creating this website was influenced by Schön’s (1983) account of the reflective practitioner, where the designer looks for ways to order, resolve and improve their practice. After the design of the website was finished it was launched online at www.joudtime.org. The website was then evaluated using the same technique used to analyse the Fair Shares site; namely the modified Microsoft Usability Guideline. This was to improve the design and get a sense of whether the idea would work in Saudi Arabia or not. This study shows that time giving can be a philanthropic tool in Saudi Arabia. It also shows that using a human-centred design and a user-centred design method in order to investigate specific target users is a practical and useful approach. The outcome shows how the design would take the user into consideration especially in a philanthropic context. Moreover, the resulting design is the first that brings time giving to the Saudi user. As a result, the project met its aim to replicate the philanthropic culture of Saudi Arabia virtually by creating an ephilanthropic tool for their context.

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