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An artifact simply means any product of human workmanship or any object modified by man. It is used to denote anything from a hammer to a computer system, but it is often used in the meaning 'a tool' in HCI or Interaction Design terminology. The term is also used to denote activities in a design process.

Soegaard, Mads. Interaction-Design.org (2006). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Baby Duck Syndrome

What if something neither looks nor quacks like a duck, but users think it is a duck? The cranky user comments on baby duck syndrome and how it can trap users with systems and interfaces that don't really meet their needs.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Being Analog

We humans are biological animals. We have evolved over millions of years to function well in the environment, to survive. We are analog devices following biological modes of operation. We are compliant, flexible, tolerant. Yet we people have constructed a world of machines that requires us to be rigid, fixed, intolerant. We have devised a technology that requires considerable care and attention, that demands it be treated on its own terms, not on ours. We live in a technology-centered world where the technology is not appropriate for people. No wonder we have such difficulties.

Norman, Donald A. JND.org (2002). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


A Breakdown of the Psychomotor Components of Input Device Usage

This study investigates the breakdown of the psychomotor components of three different input devices, the mouse, trackball, and RollerMouse™ using the Stochastic Optimized Submovement Model. Primary movement time (PMT), Total Movement Time (TMT), Primary Movement Distance (PMD), and Total Movement Distance (TMD) were examined for each device. Results showed that psychomotor variables related to the primary phase of movement help to pinpoint how performance efficiency is affected by a particular device. For example, the relationship between %PMD and efficiency suggests that a device that affords users an initial accurate movement decreases the need for more or longer corrective submovements, thus reducing movement time.

Slocum, Jeremy. Usability News (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability


Culture-Friendly Mobile Interfaces and Applications   (PDF)

Mobile phones become part of the most intimate and personal space with its users unlike any other computer devices or software applications. Mobile phones accompany the individuals almost everywhere be it home, office, public places or even the most private locations. It connects us with the worlds beyond our physical reach as well as the worlds within our vicinity. The need for culture-friendly mobile interfaces and applications is felt when we are interacting with the worlds within our vicinity (local culture) or when the user interacts with another culture. Considering the intimate relation of mobile phones with its users, the quality of “culture-friendliness” becomes very critical for a successful interaction within the personal as well as social space.

Katre, Dinesh. HCEye (2010). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Mobile>Usability


The Degree of Usability from Selected DVD Menus and Their Navigational Systems   (members only)

The purpose of this research is to investigate the usability of DVD interfaces via their menus and navigation, inspired by Donald Norman who has had a pivotal role in user-centred design and usability. The paper encompasses theoretical aspects of interactivity, usability and DVD technology. A usability test was administered with the DVDs chosen. The results from the usability test were the main focus in this research. Such results were supportive of Norman's claims, as participants experienced varying degrees of usability issues. Furthermore, the findings were used to develop a set of guidelines and recommendations designers could follow. If these were adhered to, it would have significantly alleviated the difficulty the participants had in interacting with the DVDs.

Wood-Bradley, Guy and Malcolm Campbell. SpringerLink (2005). Articles>Usability>Human Computer Interaction>DVD


Does Background Music Impact Computer Task Performance?

The effects of music on performance on a computer-mediated problem-solving task were examined. Participants completed the task in anonymous dyads as they were exposed to either Classical music, Punk music, or No Music. Results indicate that those in the Classical music condition performed better on the problem solving-task than those in the Punk music or No Music conditions. However, those listening to the Classical music offered more off-task comments during the task than those listening to No Music. Implications for website designers are discussed.

Phillips, Christine. Usability News (2004). Articles>Usability>Human Computer Interaction>Audio


Does Isolating a Visual Element Call Attention to It? Results of an Eye-tracking Investigation of the Effects of Isolation on Emphasis   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The study reported here assessed the effects of isolation on attention. Is it true, in other words, that isolating an element in a visual display—moving an element away from other elements and surrounding it with white space—will inspire a greater allocation of attentional resources to the isolated element than to other elements on a page or screen?

Williams, Thomas R., Christopher Mulligan, Kent Koprowicz, Jamie Miller, Christy Reimann and Da-Shin Wang. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Usability>Human Computer Interaction


Education: Some Progress and Some New Questions

For each of the last five years, there has been a workshop on HCI Education at the annual CHI conference. What makes these workshops so interesting isn't just the variety of people it brings together or issues discussed, it's the way the workshops have changed over the years. Just as HCI has evolved as a discipline, the topics of these and other workshops have also evolved. These changes are one indication of how much we have learned and what we have left to understand.

Sears, Andrew. SIGCHI Bulletin (1996). Articles>Education>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Ergonomic Mice: Comparison of Performance and Perceived Exertion

This study reports a psychophysical comparison of four ergonomic mouse-type devices to the standard mouse. It was hypothesized that muscle activity transferred from the distal to proximal limbs for some of the ergonomic mice may result in increased load on the shoulders and declines in target acquisition performance. Results revealed a potential tradeoff between performance and safety with the devices as participants performed the best with the standard mouse but reported more wrist exertion with this device.

Scarlett, Deborah. Usability News (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability


Essential Use Cases for Multiplatform Service Design   (PDF)

This paper addresses the problem of designing service interaction for multiplatform operations and is based on a qualitative study of the services offered by a large retail Portuguese bank in four channels: bank branches, telephone, ATM, and Internet. The functionality of bank services across such channels was captured with essential use cases, which are technology free. When customers are free to decide in which channel they are going to get the service they need, customer experience (non-functional) requirements becoming ever more important. Essential use cases were extended to take account of such customer experience requirements. This additional information in essential use cases is very helpful, as it provides concrete and objective guidelines regarding the most suitable channel for implementing and offering each particular service. Doing essential use case modeling for multiplatform service interaction helps service providers allocate resources to the most likely channels that customers will use. It also allows them to identify areas of interaction experience that need to be improved if services offered are likely to be effectively used in the platform.

Patrício, Lia, J. Falcão e Cunha, Raymond P. Fisk and Nuno J. Nunes. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Case Studies


Ethics, Lies and Videotape...

Videotape has become one of the CHI community's mostuseful technologies: it allows us to analyze users' interactions with computers,prototype new interfaces, and present the results of our research andtechnical innovations to others. But video is a double-edged sword. It isoften misused, however unintentionally. How can we use it well, without compromising our integrity? This paper presents actual examples of questionable videotaping practices. Next, it explains why we cannot simply borrow ethical guidelines from otherprofessions. It concludes with a proposal for developing usable ethical guidelines for the capture, analysis andpresentation of video.

Mackay, Wendy E. ACM SIGCHI (1995). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Testing


Eye Tracking in Human-Computer Interaction and Usability Research: Current Status and Future Prospects   (PDF)

Discusses the various opportunities for eye-movement studies in future HCI research, and details some of the challenges that need to be overcome to enable effective application of the technique in studying the complexities of advanced interactive-system use.

Poole, Alex and Linden J. Ball. Alex Poole (2004). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Eye Tracking


Garbage In, Garbage Out: Using Affordances

The trick is to make data-entry forms clear enough that workers understand what you require of them without having to ask. This understanding alone can drastically reduce the frequency of errors, but to turn that understanding into a payback, you'll have to design a label for each field that is truly obvious to the workers. Information designers call these clues "affordances", and if you're lucky enough to have technical writers or editors in your organization, you can probably enlist their aid in designing these clues.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (1999). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Forms


Guerrilla HCI: Using Discount Usability Engineering to Penetrate the Intimidation Barrier

When asking how many usability specialists it takes to change a light bulb, the answer might well be four: Two to conduct a field study and task analysis to determine whether people really need light, one to observe the user who actually screws in the light bulb, and one to control the video camera filming the event. It is certainly true that one should study user needs before implementing supposed solutions to those problems. Even so, the perception that anybody touching usability will come down with a bad case of budget overruns is keeping many software projects from achieving the level of usability their users deserve.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1994). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Methods>Usability


HCI Education and CHI 97

Education always plays an important role in the annual CHI conference. The tutorial program provides a valuable opportunity for both HCI practitioners and researchers to explore new topics. Other venues, including workshops, panels, special interest group sessions, and papers are also used to explore educational issues. This year HCI Education was represented by a panel, a Special Interest Group, and several short papers discussing issues important to HCI education.

Sears, Andrew and Marian Williams. SIGCHI Bulletin (1997). Articles>Education>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


HCI Education and CHI 98

This year, the CHI conference placed special emphasis on three application domains: education, entertainment, and health care. The education domain included everything from pre-school for children through continuing education for working professionals. HCI education was well-represented, and was the focus of a paper and a panel.

Williams, Marian G. and Andrew Sears. SIGCHI Bulletin (1998). Articles>Education>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


HCI Education: Past, Present and Future?

The roots of HCI came from a number of separate disciplines, including computer graphics, human factors, ergonomics etc. (Hewett et al., 1992). In higher education, HCI was also represented as separate disciplines and sub-disciplines with separate courses or modules within the various disciplines. In contrast, the 1980's began to recognize the multi-disciplinary nature of the field. Conferences such as SIGCHI and books on HCI (e.g. Baecker & Buxton, 1987; Card, Moran & Newell, 1983; Norman, 1988; Shneiderman, 1987) appeared that brought the various disciplines together in new ways.

Gasen, Jean B. SIGCHI Bulletin (1996). Articles>Education>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


HCI Education: Where is it Headed?

As HCI continues to mature as a discipline, we must continue to question the bounds of the field. We must define what is within the realm of HCI and what is not. To begin, we can explore some of the proposed definitions for the discipline.

Sears, Andrew. SIGCHI Bulletin (1997). Articles>Education>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


How May I Help You? An Ethnographic View of Contact-Center HCI   (peer-reviewed)

This study used an applied ethnographic research method to investigate human-computer interaction (HCI) between call center agents and agent-facing software in the context of contact-center culture. Twenty semi-structured interviews were completed, along with non-participant observation at two contact centers, one that followed a user-centered design (UCD) process for software development and another that did not. Agent productivity and satisfaction at the non-UCD center were hampered by poor task-UI integration, ambiguous text labels, and inadequate UI standardization. Agents required multiple applications to complete a single task, leading to long task times and cognitive strain. In contrast, the UCD center used a unified UI that reduced task times and decreased cognitive strain. In both centers, the workflow was reported to be stressful at times; however, management at both companies employed high involvement work processes that mitigated this stress. Implications for possible high-involvement UI design are considered and a strategy for applied ethnographic research is discussed.

Kiewe, Howard. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Contextual Inquiry


Human Factors Measurement for Future Air Traffic Control Systems   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article provides a critical review of research pertaining to the measurement of human factors (HF) issues in current and future air traffic control (ATC). Growing worldwide air traffic demands call for a radical departure from current ATC systems. Future systems will have a fundamental impact on the roles and responsibilities of ATC officers (ATCOs). Valid and reliable methods of assessing HF issues associated with these changes, such as a potential increase (or decrease) in workload, are of utmost importance for advancing theory and for designing systems, procedures, and training. Method: We outline major aviation changes and how these relate to five key HF issues in ATC. Measures are outlined, compared, and evaluated and are followed by guidelines for assessing these issues in the ATC domain. Recommendations for future research are presented. A review of the literature suggests that situational awareness and workload have been widely researched and assessed using a variety of measures, but researchers have neglected the areas of trust, stress, and boredom. We make recommendations for use of particular measures and the construction of new measures. Conclusion: It is predicted that, given the changing role of ATCOs and profound future airspace requirements and configurations, issues of stress, trust, and boredom will become more significant. Researchers should develop and/or refine existing measures of all five key HF issues to assess their impact on ATCO performance. Furthermore, these issues should be considered in a holistic manner. Application: The current article provides an evaluation of research and measures used in HF research on ATC that will aid research and ATC measurement.

Langan-Fox, Janice and James M. Canty. Human Factors (2009). Articles>Usability>Human Computer Interaction>Assessment


The Human Interface

The phrase 'human error' is taken to mean 'operator error', but more often than not the disaster is inherent in the design or installation of the human interface. Bad interfaces are slow or error prone to use. Bad interfaces cost money and cost lives.

Dix, Alan. uiGarden (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>User Centered Design


Human-Computer Interface at Google

Why does a web site that rarely changes need HCI people? Learn about the experiences of a new employee, Josh Mittleman, which he shared with the UsabilityNJ meeting in October.

Hoffer, Eric. Usability Interface (2007). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Learning How to Use a Cellular Phone: Comparison Between German and Chinese Users   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The objective of this study was to investigate whether and how 'cultural standards' influence the use of typical daily products, e.g. a cellular phone. The goal was to provide insight for technical communicators who design information products for Chinese or German users. Hypotheses about differences in learning and information gathering strategies were derived from Chinese and German cultural standards. Methods used were focus groups, usability tests and a questionnaire. In focus groups, the question was raised about how cellular phone users had learned to use the phone. Four focus groups were held in each country (number of participants: China: n=26, Germany: n=24). A questionnaire was designed to provide additional information. During usability tests, the actual information searching behavior was recorded. Results indicate that the following cultural differences exist: The main source of information for Chinese is the sales clerk, whereas for Germans it is the conventional user manual.

Honold, Pia. Technical Communication Online (1999). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>International


Noncommand User Interfaces

Several new user interface technologies and interaction principles seem to define a new generation of user interfaces that will move off the flat screen and into the physical world to some extent. Many of these next-generation interfaces will not have the user control the computer through commands, but will have the computer adapt the dialogue to the user's needs based on its inferences from observing the user. This article defines twelve dimensions across which future user interfaces may differ from the canonical window systems of today: User focus, the computer's role, interface control, syntax, object visibility, interaction stream, bandwidth, tracking feedback, interface locus, user programming, and software packaging. Keywords: Agents, Animated icons, BITPICT, DWIM, Embedded help, Eye tracking, Generations of user interfaces, Gestural interfaces, Help systems, Home computing, Interactive fiction, Interface paradigms, Noncommand based user interfaces, Prototyping, Usability heuristics, Virtual realities, Wizard of Oz method.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1993). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability



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