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Fall 2004 Final Exam Review: 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!"

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".

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."

d. "We wanted the text to stand out so we made all text red."
sounds good, i'd also accept something along the lines of don norman's latest argument in emotional design - an ugly interface isn't so usable after all :) -ellie

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?"

...any information needed should be visible at the time it is needed (not 2 screens before) -ellie

andrew sayman had a good answer before, i'll just copy and cite if that's ok -ellie:

Just for clarity and completeness, here are the specific things from the slides these violate:
a) Designers vs. Users. Users are probably experts in their field, not yours, so you can't relate your experience to theirs.Specifically: Knowledge & Skills.

b) Know thy users! (For they are not you). Specifically: Physical and cognitive abilities.

c) Predictability first and foremost. This also violates Familiarity (When is the action not labelled in the real world?) and Generalizability (The knowledge gained from other systems is now useless here).

d) This is a repeat of Physical & cognitive abilities.

e) Observability. This sounds like Reachability firstly, because they can't navigate back. Because of that though, this also falls into Persistence because they shouldn't /have/ to navigate back and Browsability because they unable to look at a previous state without altering the current one (presumably).

Andrew Sayman

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