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Summer 2003 Final Exam Review: HCI Design

HCI Design



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. What UI principle(s) did they violate?

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!"

Their reasoning is wrong because they are violating the principle "Know thy users for they are not you." Even though they loved their UI, they are not the ones using it and that doesn't guarantee that their users will love it. They should have tested the UI by asking potentional users to experience it and work with it. The programmers will obviously be able to use it because they wrote it. The trick is to see if the real users will find it easy to use because they think differently. ~Sabina Karkin

Good answer, Sabina Barbara Ericson

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. They seem to be having trouble reading the text".

The problem here is not understanding the user. They needed to consider how old the typical user might be and make it a larger font size so that it can be readable. They can give options to the user to pick their own font. ~Sabina Karkin

Good answer, Sabina Barbara Ericson

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."

They violated the principle to do what people expect them to do (follow applicable guidelines and physical counterparts). Also, they didn't make the knowledge visible. The users won't know that clicking at the top is OK and clicking at the bottom is Cancel, especially since it doesn't even have any labels. They need to place those buttons where people expect them and the labels need to be there. ~Sabina Karkin

Nice answer, Sabina Barbara Ericson

d. "We wanted the text to stand out so we made all text red."

They violated the principle "Know thy users for they are not you" because they thought that since they think making the text red will make it stand out, then the users will think the same thing. However, since red is usually used to indicate danger or caution, the users will probably think of it as an alert or an alarm, which would mislead them. They need to change the color and maybe make it bold or underline it. ~Sabina Karkin

Nice answer, Sabina Barbara Ericson

e. "The users seem to be getting stuck on one screen even though the information they need to answer questions was two screens back. Can't they just remember things?"

They violated the principle of making the knowledge visible. Computers are good at remembering, but people are not. They need to make that information visible and not expect the user to know that it was two screens back. ~Sabina Karkin

Good answer, Sabina Barbara Ericson

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