Users And Business Functions Of Applications


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Users And Business Functions Of Applications

  1. 2. Users of a system <ul><li>A user is the most important part of any computer system. </li></ul><ul><li>Interface and screen design process must begin with an understanding of the system user. </li></ul><ul><li>A system is built to serve user needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding people and what they do is a difficult and often undervalued process but very critical. </li></ul>
  2. 3. Designers should: <ul><li>Understand how people interact with computers. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the human characteristics important in design. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the user’s level of knowledge and experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the characteristics of the user’s needs, tasks, and jobs. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the user’s psychological characteristics. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the user’s physical characteristics. </li></ul><ul><li>Employ recommended methods for gaining understanding of users. </li></ul>
  3. 4. Troubles with computers? <ul><li>Design of business systems requires behavioural training apart from technical skills. </li></ul><ul><li>What makes a system difficult to use: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of jargon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-obvious design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fine distinctions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disparity in problem-solving strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design inconsistency </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Psychological responses to poor design <ul><li>Confusion </li></ul><ul><li>Annoyance </li></ul><ul><li>Frustration </li></ul><ul><li>Panic or stress </li></ul><ul><li>Boredom </li></ul><ul><li>These psychological responses diminish user effectiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>People remember the one thing that went wrong, not the many that go right. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Physical responses for poor design <ul><li>Abandonment of the system </li></ul><ul><li>Partial use of the system </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect use of the system </li></ul><ul><li>Modification of the task </li></ul><ul><li>Compensatory activity </li></ul><ul><li>Direct programming </li></ul><ul><li>Physical responses also greatly diminish user efficiency and effectiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>They force the user to rely upon other information sources. </li></ul>
  6. 7. People and their tasks <ul><li>The user in today’s office is usually overworked and continually interrupted. </li></ul><ul><li>All computer users tend to share the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not to read documentation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not understand well the problems the computer can aid in solving. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Know little about what information is available to meet their needs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users’ technical skills have often been greatly overestimated by the system designer. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Users’ objective is simply to get some work done, a task performed, or a need satisfied. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Important human characteristics in design <ul><li>Perception </li></ul><ul><li>Memory </li></ul><ul><li>Information processing </li></ul><ul><li>Mental models </li></ul><ul><li>Movement control </li></ul><ul><li>Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Skill </li></ul><ul><li>Individual differences </li></ul>
  8. 9. Perception <ul><li>Perception is our awareness and understanding of the elements and objects of our environment through the physical sensation of our various senses, including sight, sound, smell, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Perception is influenced, in part, by experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptual characteristics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proximity (objects are near each other in space). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Similarity (objects share a common visual property). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Succinctness (perfection or simplicity is easier to remember). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectancies (we perceive not what is there but what we expect to be there). </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. Memory <ul><li>Memory is the most stable of human attributes. </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term and short-term memory. </li></ul><ul><li>Short-term memory receives information from either the senses or long-term memory. </li></ul><ul><li>Within short-term memory a limited amount of information processing takes place. </li></ul><ul><li>Information stored within it is variously thought to last from 10 to 30 seconds. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge, experience, and familiarity govern the size and complexity of the information that can be remembered. </li></ul><ul><li>Short-term memory can be increased through applying two senses: vision and audition. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Memory (continued) <ul><li>Long-term memory contains the knowledge we possess. </li></ul><ul><li>The learning process is improved if the information has structure and is meaningful and familiar. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is also improved through repetition. </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term memory capacity is thought to be unlimited. </li></ul><ul><li>The difference in ability to recognize or recall words (active vocabulary is about 2000-3000, passive vocabulary is about 100000). </li></ul><ul><li>Our power for recognition is much greater than our power to recall. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Memory (continued) <ul><li>We should present lists of alternatives to remind people of the choices they have. </li></ul><ul><li>Present information in an organized, structured, familiar, and meaningful way. </li></ul><ul><li>Placing all required information for task performance in close physical proximity. </li></ul><ul><li>Giving the user control over the pace of information presentation. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Information processing <ul><li>Two levels of information processing: highest and lower levels. </li></ul><ul><li>The highest level is identified with consciousness and short-term memory. </li></ul><ul><li>It is limited, slow, and sequential, and is used for reading and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>The lower level processes familiar information rapidly and without conscious effort. </li></ul><ul><li>We look rather than see, perceive rather than read. </li></ul><ul><li>Repetition and learning result in a shift of control from higher level to the lower level. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Mental models <ul><li>A mental model is an internal representation of a person’s current understanding of something. </li></ul><ul><li>Mental models enable users to predict actions. </li></ul><ul><li>People bring their own expectations and preconceptions based on their mental models. </li></ul><ul><li>If the system conforms to the mental models, the use of this system feels more natural. </li></ul><ul><li>For the design it is critical to identify and understand user’s mental models. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggestions: design consistency and design standards. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Movement control <ul><li>Once data has been perceived and an appropriate action decided upon, a response must be made; in many cases the response is a movement. </li></ul><ul><li>Movement includes such activities as pressing keyboard keys, moving the screen pointer by pushing a mouse or rotating a trackball, or clicking a mouse button. </li></ul><ul><li>The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide large objects for important functions. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Learning <ul><li>Learning is a process of encoding in long-term memory information that is contained in short-term memory. </li></ul><ul><li>A design developed to minimize human learning time can greatly accelerate human performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning can be enhanced if it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows skills acquired in one situation to be used in another somewhat like it. Design consistency accomplishes this. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides complete and prompt feedback. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is phased (requires a person to know only the info needed at that stage of the learning process). </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Skill <ul><li>The goal of human performance is to perform skilfully. </li></ul><ul><li>The essence of skill is performance of actions or movements in the correct time sequence with adequate precision. </li></ul><ul><li>It is characterized by consistency and economy of effort. </li></ul><ul><li>Economy of effort is achieved by establishing a work pace that represents optimum efficiency. </li></ul><ul><li>Skills are hierarchical in nature, and many basic skills may be integrated to form increasingly complex ones. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Individual differences <ul><li>In reality, there is no average user. </li></ul><ul><li>We all differ – in looks, feelings, motor abilities, intellectual abilities, learning abilities and speed, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Individual differences complicate design. </li></ul><ul><li>In the past, it usually resulted in bringing designs down to the level of lowest abilities. </li></ul><ul><li>The technology now offers the possibility of tailoring jobs to the specific needs of people with varying and changing learning or skill level. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple versions of a system can easily be created. Design must provide for the needs of all potential users. </li></ul>
  18. 19. System experience <ul><li>Various schemas have been proposed to classify the different and sometimes changing characteristics of people as they become more experienced using a system. </li></ul><ul><li>We distinguish between novice user (beginners), intermediate users, and expert users. </li></ul><ul><li>What is easy for the new user is not always perceived as easy for the old users, and vice versa. </li></ul><ul><li>For years novice users have been told that they are stupid (Note the popularity of the manuals with “dummy” in the title). </li></ul>
  19. 20. Novice users in business systems <ul><li>Novice users depend on system features that assist recognition memory: menus, prompting information, and instructional and help screens. </li></ul><ul><li>Need restricted vocabularies, simple tasks, small numbers of possibilities, and very informative feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>View practice as an aid to moving up to expert status. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Expert users in business systems <ul><li>Rely upon free recall. </li></ul><ul><li>Expect rapid performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Need less informative feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>Seek efficiency by bypassing novice memory aids, reducing keystrokes, summarizing information, and introducing new vocabularies. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Users on the Web <ul><li>Novice users: </li></ul><ul><li>need overviews, buttons to select actions, and guided tours. </li></ul><ul><li>Intermediate users: </li></ul><ul><li>want systematic structure, obvious landmarks, reversibility, and safety as they explore. </li></ul><ul><li>Expert users: </li></ul><ul><li>like smooth navigation paths, compact but in-depth information, fast page downloads, extensive services to satisfy their varied needs, and the ability to change or rearrange the interface. </li></ul>
  22. 23. User’s knowledge/experience <ul><li>Computer literacy – highly technical or experienced, moderate computer experience, or none. </li></ul><ul><li>Application experience – high, moderate, or low knowledge of similar systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Task experience – level of knowledge of job tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Other system use – frequent or infrequent use of other systems in doing job. </li></ul><ul><li>Education – high school, college, or advanced degree. </li></ul><ul><li>Reading level </li></ul><ul><li>Typing skill </li></ul><ul><li>Native language or culture </li></ul>
  23. 24. Obligatory or arbitrary use <ul><li>Characteristics of obligatory use: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The computer is used as part of employment. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time and effort in learning to use the computer are willingly invested. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High motivation is often used to overcome low usability characteristics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The user may possess a technical background. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The job may consist of a single task or function. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples: a flight reservations clerk booking sets, an insurance company employee entering data into the computer, and a programmer. </li></ul>
  24. 25. Obligatory or arbitrary use (continued) <ul><li>In recent years, as technology and the Web has expanded into the office, a second kind of user has appeared. </li></ul><ul><li>This kind of user is much more self-directed than the obligatory user, not being told how to work but being evaluated on the results of his or her efforts. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: office executive, manager, or other professional, whose computer use is completely arbitrary. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Arbitrary use <ul><li>General characteristics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of the computer or system is not absolutely necessary. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical details are of no interest. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra effort to use the system may not be invested. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High motivation to use the system may not be exhibited. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For business systems, user: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is a multifunction knowledge worker. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The job can be performed without the system. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May not have expected to use the system. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Career path may not have prepared him/her for system use. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 27. User’s psychological characteristics <ul><li>Attitude and motivation. Attitude could be positive, neutral, or negative. Motivation could be high, moderate, or low. </li></ul><ul><li>Patience </li></ul><ul><li>Stress level </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive style. Verbal thinking, spatial reasoning, analytical thinkers, intuitive users. </li></ul>
  27. 28. User’s physical characteristics <ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Hearing </li></ul><ul><li>Vision </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive processing </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Handedness (about 87% are right-handed) </li></ul><ul><li>Disabilities </li></ul>
  28. 29. Gaining an understanding of users <ul><li>Visit user locations, particularly if they are unfamiliar to you. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with users about their problems, difficulties, wishes, and what works well now. </li></ul><ul><li>Observe (or even videotape) users working or performing a task to see what they do. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn about the work organization where the system may be installed. </li></ul><ul><li>Have users think aloud as they do something to uncover details. </li></ul><ul><li>Try the job yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare surveys and questionnaires. </li></ul>
  29. 30. Understand the business function <ul><li>Requirements must be determined and user activities being performed must be described through task analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>From these, a conceptual model of the system will be formulated. </li></ul><ul><li>The objective of this phase is to establish the need for the system! </li></ul><ul><li>The developer should be aware of the policies and work culture of the organization being studied. </li></ul>
  30. 31. Direct techniques for determining requirements Individual face-to-face interview Traditional focus groups Usability laboratory testing Telephone interview or survey Observational field study REQUIREMENTS
  31. 32. Indirect techniques for determining requirements Marketing and sales Electronic survey or questionnaire E-mail or bulletin board Paper survey or questionnaire Electronic focus group REQUIREMENTS Competitor analysis
  32. 33. References <ul><li>Part 2 “User interface design process” from Galitz W., 2002, The essential guide to user interface design, 2nd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc. </li></ul>