RAA 4: The Use of Guidelines in Menu Interface Design

Souza, F., & Bevan, N. (1990). The use of guidelines in menu interface design: Evaluation of a draft standard. Proceedings of the IFIP TC13 Third International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 435-440. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=725751

This article reported that only few designers religiously follow design guidelines. For this reason, the authors evaluated the extent that designers are able to use such guidelines to offer new improvements in clarity and efficiency.

By developing the guidelines further, it would help improve accuracy and present information in a way that makes them more usable. However, refinement doesn’t mean that designers would necessarily use them in their interface design processes.

Three interface designers were given a set of 87 guidelines in which they marked any difficulties or terms they found unclear. Later, they were observed during a study in which they were to identify and redesign problems using a whiteboard, but were encouraged to use the guidelines. At first they were not obligated to follow them, but were asked to think aloud their reasoning. Afterwards, they were told to change the new interface by applying all the guidelines one by one.

Main Findings
91% of guidelines resulted in errors with at least one designer, however only 11% of the guidelines were actually violated by their new design. The authors found that the designers tended to misinterpret the guidelines and mainly focus on prior designer experience. Examples the paper provided show lack of clarity for conditions and nature of guidelines and difficulties with certain terms.

As a designer the results were not surprising. Personally, I often rely on past experiences rather than the clarity of guidelines. I also think that guidelines are just that– guidelines: encouraged to be followed but you should know when they can and should be broken.

The difficulties the designers had were also relatable. For example, reading about the design process for class and applying them later in class is a completely different matter. I often find myself not knowing how to effectively apply a process until experiencing it firsthand.

I would say that clarifying guidelines is a good proactive and should be done, but this study revealed that following them isn’t completely necessary to make an exceptional design.

Reading Reflection 6

Paay, J. (2008). From ethnography to interface design.

I didn’t know much about ethnography before reading this article, but I thought it gave a great background on it and the relation to HCI. Obviously, I didn’t know that a gap existed between ethnography and interface design either, but the paper seemed to propose such a simplistic solution that I wonder if it is actually effective. Turning towards ethnography for a contextual understanding of technology seems like a smart move for a designer, since it enriches a user’s experience and provides answers to a design. It makes me wonder why such a gap still exists between the two, although I can understand how the translation could prove difficult. I guess it shows that moving from Research to Planning isn’t always easy.

I also thought this article gave an informative instruction on their design process.

Eysenbach, G., & Köhler, C. (2002). How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews.

This article reminded me about the one on information scent, partially because of the task searching and the medical information topic. What I most liked about this reading was the quotes from the focus groups and interviews about credibility. The participants mentioned several key items to consider when designing. It also shows that users will likely not continue on a site if it lacks perceived credibility.

Millen, D. (2000). Rapid ethnography: Time deepening strategies for HCI field research.

This paper posed many standing problems with ethnographic methods for HCI. While it may be a powerful way of obtaining research on your audience, I can understand how time does not always allow for such an extensive analysis. Rapid ethnography seems to provide an alternative to time-sensitive projects by “narrowing the focus of the field research”, using “multiple interactive observation techniques”, and using “collaborative and computerized iterative data analyze methods”. However, it does seem that many sources are recommended for it to succeed, such as field guides, corporate informants, various software, etc.

Cooper. (2007). About face 3.

Cooper’s Chapter 4 covers ways to conduct qualitative research, including ethnographic interviews. He suggests speaking with stakeholders and subject matter experts to identify candidates for interviews before actually conducting them. This way, the designer basically sets up a persona hypothesis and has a basic idea of the different behavior patters that will appear when researching. Cooper also touches briefly on other types of research such as focus groups, usability testing, card sorting, and task analysis – many of which we spoke of in class last week.

Breakthrough Idea 2: LED Contacts

Whoa. Just, whoa.

An old high school classmate of mine recently posted this surprising link on Facebook: LED Lights Make Augmented Vision a Reality. The article dates back to January so I may be behind the times, but this is the first I’ve heard of any breakthrough like this.

My first reaction: It’s like Minority Report! Soon we’ll be watching TV with contact lenses and later we’ll be interacting with interfaces with just our eyeballs. Nifty.

The article mentions augmented reality, but aside from that, just think of what implications this will have in HCI. Interfaces floating in front of our eyes… The design of such will likely change as the way we use them changes. No longer inhibited by monitors and their constraints, designers would have to accommodate for this. However, I imagine design principles to remain the same since they are based on human perception, but they would likely be applied differently.

The only concern I have is that floating interactive interfaces, such as ones in Minority Report, seem to require more effort to use. Grabbing a window physically by extending your arm seems to ask a lot of the user. Perhaps this won’t be the case, however, and that technology will only require miniscule movements to function – a twitch of a finger, perhaps.