Monthly Archives: October, 2012

[Week 11] Blog Post 8 – Evaluation Method: GOMS

We present this week on the topic Evaluation Method: GOMS.

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[Week 8] Blog Post 7 – Cognitive Aspects of Interaction Design

Cognitive science is the study of minds, in particular, human behavior and information processing. This includes understanding, remembering, reasoning, attending, being aware, acquiring skills and creating new ideas. Attempts have been made to establish a relationship between cognitive science and human-computer interaction (HCI) to predict human performance through the use of design technologies. The aim of this is to understand how knowledge transmission can take place between humans and computers and how through the use of technologies, human’s competency could be enhanced and weakness compensated.

Before I go into the challenges of learning and how can the use of technology enhance user experience, I would to share a video about the Kinect Effect.

From this video, we can see the advancement of technology such that now, there are substantial human interaction with technology, rather than the pure clicking of the mouse and browsing through highly stimulating websites. The Kinect technology not only provides entertainment, but it can assist work processes and help humans accomplish things which will be impossible without the existence of technology.

Challenges of cognitive learning

All user interfaces make cognitive demands on users and hence through the use of technologies, we aim to reduce cognitive overload. Cognitive overload occurs when the learning task exceeds the processing capacity of the cognitive system. Hence, successful user interface designs ought to acknowledge the limitations of cognitive processing. There are three challenges to keep in mind throughout the design process.

1.     Contextual complexity

Are the new concepts that users have to learn too complex? How efficient can the mind link the new concepts with his past learning experiences?

2.     Memory load

How much information must users store in their short-term memory without exceeding its optimum capacity? How much new information (e.g. commands, procedures) do they have to process?

 3.     Attention

Do the users feel at ease when viewing at the information put on screen? How good is the user interface at capturing the user’s attention? If the user is distracted by other work, will he continue their interaction with the system once they are free of that distraction?

Enhancing the user experience

Ease of usage

Users appeal to the visual aspects of a computer interface primarily. Hence, it is crucial that there should be ease of reading of screen images and content. If not, users would be deterred from using it and switch to a friendlier user interface that is more conducive for learning and interaction. For example, a simple classic design (shown on the top diagram) would appeal more to the masses rather than a ‘congested’ layout with highly complicated functions (shown on the bottom diagram).

Good website interface

 Bad website interface

Consistency of programs

Graphical user interface takes advantage of the ability to display information on the computer screen. For example, a toolbar of icons could be utilized as they are representatives of popular actions taken also creates convenience for usage. The toolbar is constantly on the screen and it reduces the user’s need to memorize a set of actions and commands. The use of consistent terms and colours will increase the ease of usage. New, yet complex, interface will only serve to let users fumble on the new functions and requires time for them to familiarize with the new terms and commands. Successful systems tend to require users to spend the shortest time to get used to their system. In addition, associating universal commands with function such as “Help” by connecting them to speak to a live agent, or an associative online help page would improve user experience and satisfaction.

Using images

The use of images is important is interface design as the brain is better at recognizing images than words. It captures the user’s attention faster and helps the brain relate to concepts easier. Graphical illustration thus serves to create a visual image and helps user to understand the concepts presented rather than mainly text.  Users also tend to be more attracted to reading text with images than purely text. Images tend to be appealing and will tempt the user to continue reading.

 Conclusion

In conclusion, incorporating technologies into learning creates a more different and interactive form of learning as users can be more focused through the use of graphics illustrations like animations and hands on experience. This is in contrast with traditional form of learning through books whereby users tend to drift off due to the lack of ‘interaction’. Though these technologies enhance learning, we should also consider that the way technology appeals to different individuals. Every individual perceives technology differently, hence the design of interface should be taken into account. With advancement technologies like Kinect, there is hope for more complex technologies to be developed to enhance human’s way of living.

[Week 7] Blog Post 6 – Prototyping!!!

On the last lecture, we had a session of product conceptualizing. This session is split up into 3 different parts. Firstly, brainstorming then came the second part, which will be coming up with the scenario and storyboard, lastly, prototyping phase.

Brainstorming

This part is actually the most challenging part of the session, as we have to brainstorm a new type of communication device within 10-15 minutes. We have several ideas such as using brain wave/ brain power to communicate with one and another, using a ipod/ipad similar device to help the mute and deaf in communicating with normal people who do not know sign language. We then started to rate and rank these ideas according to their feasibility and extension of use. In the end, we decided to go ahead with the idea of having a handheld device that will aid deaf/blind/mute in being understood by normal people that do not have knowledge of sign language. This device will works as a translator.

We are asked to combine with another group to form a bigger group.  With this formation of bigger group, we shared our ideas and concepts about out initial communication device. Thus, with the exchange of ideas, we decide that it will be more beneficial for the user if we combine both of our idea together.

Scenario and storyboard

Coming to the second part of the session. During brainstorming, we have already decided that our user will be people with communication difficulties. This helps us to focus on our scenario and storyboard, as we know who will be the casts. We come up with a storyboard whereby the user is trying to communicate with a passerby and the passerby does not possess the knowledge of hand language. The user will then take out his/her communication device to aid the passerby to better understanding of the user.

Prototyping

After the second part of scenario and storyboard, we have come to the last part of the session, which is prototyping. We use a masking tape and maybe 30 cm string to tie the handheld device to our neck. We decide to create a low-fidelity prototype as the material given to us is quite limited and time is a factor too.

What did you learn from the activity?

We have learned that coming together as a group and do product conceptualizing is very difficult as there are many different and conflicting ideas. We need contribution from everyone and we do not want to silent off someone, trying to obtain this balance is difficult.  We learned that we should always do the conceptualizing part by part so that the whole group can understand and give us time to fully digest it.

What was good and what can be improved?

The idea of having class participation is good and is certainly entertaining and allows us to have fruitful insight of doing product conceptualizing. I believe that time management and coordination of team could be further improve.

Our group use masking tape and string for our prototyping. I believe that this prototype is sufficient in bringing across the idea that we want to have a hand held device and how and when we will be using it but nevertheless this prototype lack the detail of how a handheld device would be, for example where the button should be placed and e.g.

I would like to show this video to show what are other interesting way to prototyping..

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