Wikipedia Article on Human Computer Interaction

Discussion on Wikipedia Article on Human-Computer Interaction


  1. The ACM definition of human-computer interaction: “A discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them.”
  2. The Three Mile Island accident was (“at least partially”) attributed to poor HCI design. The article backing up this statement says that a control panel displayed the incorrect status of a valve, indicating that it was operating correctly, when in fact, it was broken. They classify a “display failure” as poor HCI design.
  3. The “differences with related fields” section mentions “human factors” and “ergonomics”, but not “interaction design”. Is interaction design the modern term for human factors? There is a separate Wikipedia page on interaction design that points back to HCI as a related discipline. There is a “see also” link on the HCI page to the Interaction design page.
  4. The article distinguishes between “design principles” (testing and measuring effectiveness) and “design methodologies” (modeling how users interact with the system).
  5. Two interesting lists, one embedded, the other referenced: (1) The 13 principles of display design from a book on human factors engineering. Would be helpful to have examples for each one; and (2) The seven principles of user interface design, Principles of User Interface Design (including the two laws). These two lists seem like a good tool for both evaluating and creating interfaces.
  6. There are trade-offs between having the HCI model “the real world” (e.g., desk-top metaphor) versus creating a whole new style of interaction. Sometimes inventing a new way is better (for example, the sewing machine became practical when it stopped trying to replicate hand-sewn stitching).
  7. A related trade-off is the role of the end users is in the UI design. In some cases, users can help guide the experience, in others, someone must imagine what is possible and bring the user in for testing.
  8. HCI is multidisciplinary, requiring contributions by individuals from a variety of fields. Determining at what time and to what degree experts are brought into the design is a complex decision.
  9. Many HCI issues are domain specific and cannot be (or have not been) generalized.
  10. An interface that is “less than optimal” might still be good, if it is familiar to the user. Two examples include the airplane control system mentioned in the article and the QWERTY keyboard.
  11. Interfaces sometime require redundancy to improve usability.
  12. Following design principles when building user interfaces is important. Two areas mentioned in the paper that are sometime overlooked are the principle of predictive aiding and the principle of multiple resources.
  13. The article describes the design, test, analyze, repeat process for building interfaces, but does not provide much information on the test phase.
  14. HCI needs to include ubiquitous computing—in which the user interacts with multiple computers simultaneously or in close transition (e.g., listening to music on a personal player, then moving to an in-house stereo).
  15. The article contains a number of references and links to potential papers for student review and reporting.