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Sp01 Final Exam Review: HCI Design

See Final Exam Review - Sp2001

Comments? Answers? Criticisms?

Trying to save on-screen real estate! :-)

A company has just designed a user interface that was an utter disaster. You have been brought in as an HCI consultant to explain what they did wrong. For each of the below quotes from the companies engineers, respond and explain what they should have done.

a. "We used it ourselves for over a week! We really loved it! I can't understand why we're getting all these nasty letters from our users!"

should have subjected the product to testing by people who did not develop the software.

b. "We wanted to save on screen real estate so we used 9 point text throughout the user interface. Well, now it turns out that all these Senior Citizens homes bought our software. Did you know that older folks have trouble with reading smaller text?"

should have taken into account that people from all age groups might use the software, and use a bigger font size since some Senior Citizens might use the software.

True. Could this have been avoided? What's a more general lesson here? -Lex Spoon

c. "All of us felt that OK and Cancel buttons in the lower right hand corner were boring. So instead, if you click at the top of the dialog box, it closes as if you did 'OK,' and if you click at the bottom, it closes as if you clicked 'Cancel.' What's that? No, we didn't use any labels – they would just take up screen real estate."

should have made the software more easily understandable and conventional by having the "Ok" and "Cancel" buttons. otherwise people would find it hard to use the software.


Nice, but on (c), try a different answer. Mark Guzdial

c)You should have made knowledge visible and put labels b/c thats what people expect and they have to be able to know what will happen next

a) Know thy User
b) Know thy User
c) Make UI intuitive and as mentioned above, make important information visible.

I was particularly looking for Jehan's "Make knowledge visible." "Know thy user" is probably appropriate for (b) but is a little broad for (a). Mark Guzdial

a. Know Thy User
Understand the Task
General Guidelines

b. As stated above, Know Thy User. Older people also might have trouble manipulating a mouse to point at small objects on the screen, etc.

c. In addition to making knowledge visible, it's good to give users what they expect. All the widgets on a Mac or Windows system don't look the same because it's pretty; it's because that is what the user expects and so it makes the software easier to use.

Doug Powers

As a side note, whilst programming in the field, it was common law not to change color's of window's apps, and to leave them default to what the end user had set. So, if the windows were grey, you left them that way. Also with that MS had released a standard on what windows should have "Ok|Cancel" , "Abort|Retry|Fail", and other buttons of similar ilk.

John Thomas McDole

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