Human beings have evolved a rich and sophisticated set of processes for engaging with the world in which cognition and affect play two different but equally crucial roles. Cognition interprets and makes sense of the world. Affect evaluates and judges, modulating the operating parameters of cognition and giving a warning about possible dangers. The study of how these two systems work together provides guidance for the design of complex autonomous systems that must deal with a variety of tasks in a dynamic, often unpredictable, and sometimes hazardous environment.
Interface design is difficult in part because everything requires interpretation. A design that works for one task or one user might not be appropriate for another. In other types of engineering, like architecture or bridge building, designers can always rely on laws of physics and gravity to make designs work. There is at least one immutable rule for interface design that we know about, and it's called Fitts's Law. It can be applied to software interfaces as well as Web site design because it involves the way people interact with mouse or other pointing devices. Most GUI platforms have built-in common controls designed with Fitts's Law in mind. Many Web designers, however, have yet to recognize the powerful little facts that make this concept so useful.
Knowing the purpose of your web page is the most important step to applying human factors principles to your design. By understanding the special chahnges related to presenting information on a web page, in addition to understanding the way human-9 use their eyes, prioritize the information they process, and react to sound, you can apply principles of information design and interface design to create effective web pages. Numerous sources of information about what to do and what not to do on a web page are available from the World Wide Web.
Ever wondered what makes some websites easier to use than others, or why some people seem to master new navigation systems quickly while others struggle to learn? Do you know why users get lost in electronic space or find it difficult to communicate with others through the medium of technology? These questions are just some of the driving forces behind research in the developing field of Human Computer Interaction.
Despite posing well-known risks, websites continue to feature poorly designed scrollbars. Among the ongoing problems that result are frustrated users, accessibility challenges, and missed content.
I recently conducted a study into the helpfulness (or lack thereof) of zebra striping—the shading of alternate rows in a table or form. The study measured performance as users completed a series of tasks and found no statistically significant improvement in accuracy—and very little statistically significant improvement in speed when zebra stripes were implemented.