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Proceedings of the HCI'87 Conference on People and Computers III

Fullname:Proceedings of the Third Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group
Note:People and Computers III
Editors:Dan Diaper; Russel Winder
Location:University of Exeter
Dates:1987-Sep-07 to 1987-Sep-11
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Standard No:ISBN 0-521-35197-9; QA 76.9 A73; hcibib: BCSHCI87
  1. Preface
  2. Evaluation in Early Design
  3. Design Methods
  4. Computers and Education
  5. Analysis for Early Design
  6. Pictorial Interfaces
  7. Systems and Interfaces
  8. Writer's Assistants
  9. Control Systems' Interfaces
  10. Intelligent and Adaptive Interfaces
  11. Psychology of Users


Satisfying Goals: An Introduction to People and Computers III BIBA 1-8
  Dan Diaper
This paper introduces the HCI'87 conference proceedings (People and Computers III) with respect to the goals of the conference. The relationship between these goals and how the proceedings, in part, satisfies them is exposed. Such an examination is possible because of the goal directed design method employed for the construction of the conference programme.

Evaluation in Early Design

The Incorporation of Early Interface Evaluation into Command Language Grammar Specifications BIBA 11-28
  Brian Sharratt
The incorporation of evaluation into a design and prototyping exercise for a transport timetabling system is described. Separate timetable interfaces were specified by postgraduate students using Command Language Grammar (CLG) and then implemented using the RAPID prototyping tool. The paper concentrates on the analysis of CLG specifications and the production of simple evaluation metrics. The analysis was based on mapping and consistency checking rules applied to the different CLGs. Following this analysis three metrics, dealing with complexity, optimality and errors, were derived and applied to the CLGs. The paper concludes with an examination of the trade-offs between specification and prototyping. Extensions to CLG to handle some of these trade-offs are discussed.
Analysis of Communication Tasks for the Design of a Structured Messaging System BIBA 29-40
  Paul Buckley; Peter Johnson
Task analysis is often seen as an important initial phase of computer systems design, and appears in the guise of 'needs analysis' and 'requirements analysis'. Task analysis of this sort attempts to describe current tasks (the 'source tasks') in a way that is useful for the design of tasks that exploit a substitute and perhaps more powerful technology (the 'target tasks'). Often the use of the description is found in its specification of knowledge that could be assumed to be possessed or easily acquired by potential users of the new technology. This knowledge should be generalisable from the source to the target tasks. For the purposes of developing a prototype messaging system as part of the Alvey-funded COSMOS project, a specific work-package was devoted to the 'analysis of communications tasks'. Particular emphasis is made in the COSMOS project on 'group communication' and the structures that support this. This paper introduces an approach to task analysis which attempts to extend its scope in HCI from abstract operational tasks to include the more social aspects of participating in a group. The source tasks of 'group communication', which included face to face groups, were categorised to reflect a contrast of features common to the source and target tasks (such as the group aim or 'activity') with features specific to the source tasks (such as the synchronous acoustic and visual channel afforded by face to face meetings). Various aspects of participant's knowledge that enabled them to successfully take part in structured communication were outlined. These aspects included goals, rules, skills and concepts. The knowledge was also categorised in an attempt to separate that specific to the source tasks from the general knowledge that could be exploited in the target tasks; so for instance, 'social skills' are distinguished from 'channel skills'. The paper concludes with suggestions of how such a structured knowledge description could aid the design of the COSMOS target tasks.
Human Factors and the Problems of Evaluation in the Design of Speech Systems Interfaces BIBA 41-49
  Dylan Jones; Kevin Hapeshi; Clive Frankish
As part of a project in the Alvey programme, during the next two years we will be carrying out experimental studies aimed at generating human factors guidelines for the design of automatic speech recognition systems for avionics and office applications. The planning of the programme of experimental work has thrown up some unique and interesting methodological issues. Firstly, there are a range of factors which can affect performance in the speech recognition system. Secondly, the choice of dependent variable is not easy, since there are a number of possible 'yardsticks' by which recognition performance can be assessed, none of which are, on their own, entirely satisfactory. In this paper we describe these methodological problems and suggest some possible solutions.

Design Methods

Patterned Systems Design -- HCI in Commercial Data Processing BIBA 53-60
  Brian Shorrock
This paper examines the HCI of systems design and suggests how it can be improved. It is directed primarily at commercial Data Processing (DP) systems, rather than more sophisticated applications such as CAD/CAM, graphics or even Word Processing. But, many of the concepts described are equally applicable to all forms of computing.
   Until recently, most HCI research has been devoted to examining the effects, on users, of minor aspects of computer systems. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that most users are still far from satisfied with their systems. Technically, most modern systems are excellent. But, users still find that systems are difficult to master, that they take far too long to develop and that changes are costly.
   So, this paper looks more widely at the problem, based on a methodology called Patterned Systems Design, or PSD for short. PSD consists of a series of algorithms, which have been developed from some 25 years experience in the design of on line Transaction Processing systems. The main aim of the methodology is to produce systems which are more than just 'user friendly'. PSD is designed to produce systems to which users can ... readily relate. However, what is perhaps the most exciting feature of PSD is that it also makes systems easier to design, easier to program, easier to test and maintain, and easier to document. Thus, the paper shows that PSD leads to improvements in all aspects of the development, implementation, maintenance and use of systems.
Describing a Product Opportunity: A Method of Understanding the Users' Environment BIBA 61-74
  Andrew Hutt; Nick Donnelly; Linda Macaulay; Chris Fowler; Deborah Twigger
Information System Companies are aware that the marketability and usability of their products are increasingly dependent on acquiring an early knowledge of the requirements of users. This paper describes the first stage of the User Skills Task Match (USTM) methodology. The methodology addresses human factors needs at the requirement specification stage in the product development life cycle. The first stage of the methodology provides a method for describing the users and their environment. It should be applied at an early stage of the development life cycle, that is, when it is first perceived that there is a potential market for a particular product. This stage is referred to as the Product Opportunity stage and the process is called Describing the Product Opportunity (DPO). The paper describes DPO and reports the subjective and objective evaluations that have been carried out. DPO has met with some measure of success in causing design teams to reassess their products in view of an increased understanding of the users' environment.
The Travel Metaphor as Design Principle and Training Aid for Navigating Around Complex Systems BIBA 75-90
  Nick Hammond; Lesley Allinson
Users often encounter problems navigating around large data structures. This paper discusses the use of metaphors as a means of helping users to understand navigation facilities and developers to design them. We propose an applications model of how metaphors are used, and then exemplify how this model can aid the design of a system. The example is a CAL system we have developed for teaching non-formal fields of knowledge. Evaluations of the system suggest that use of metaphor indeed helps users understand the navigation facilities.

Computers and Education

Human Factors in Systems Design: A Case Study BIBA 93-102
  Christopher Finch Reynolds
MicroCODIL is a teaching package which also acts as a test bed for human factors research in the CODIL project. This paper shows how human factors can be considered at all levels of systems design, starting with the way that poorly structured information is represented and processed, through the provision of diagnostic windows, to the use of colour to syntax check lazy input. The need to minimize the effects on the user of the limitations of low cost hardware is also considered.
A Flexible Negotiable Interactive Learning Environment BIBA 103-113
  Rolf Ferm; Mikael Kindborg; Anita Kollerbaur
The computer as an aid for learning is far from having reached its potential. Its applications in education have mainly been restricted to the drill-and-practice of programmed instruction.
   In this paper an innovative approach to interactive systems for learning is presented. Specific attention is paid to the design problems of man-machine interaction and their possible solutions. For the computer to meet basic requirements of recently developed communicative language learning methodology, which happens to be our starting point, extremely high demands are made on the flexibility and negotiability offered by an interactive computer-based system. Our design aims at allowing students creatively and unrestrainedly to explore a learning environment of their own making, for the development of the skills of reading and writing.
   In the environment the user is able to describe the meaning of words and phrases with a text and picture editor. The data are stored in a lexivisual database system, which together with the editor allows the user to search and process text and pictures in a flexible way.
   An experimental approach to development has been applied. New ideas have been tested continuously with potential users.
The Drexel Disk: An Electronic "Guidebook" BIBA 115-129
  Thomas T. Hewett
For four years, Drexel University has required entering freshmen to have access to a personal computer. One institutional need created by universal access to computers was that of establishing ways to introduce students to the uses and capabilities of their computers, to various aspects of instructional computing, and to related campus facilities. One part of the University-developed infrastructure of consulting, support, and training services is a Macintosh application, "The Drexel Disk." Taking advantage of the Macintosh interface and graphics capabilities, the Drexel Disk provides information about a variety of topics (e.g., an interactive campus map for locating microcomputing facilities, a database of hints about uses of the Macintosh, a case study based quiz on software piracy, etc.). Available to anyone at Drexel, version 2.5 of the Disk is, in effect, a user's "guidebook" to the microcomputer and the University in their relationship to each other.
   This paper reviews the history and rationale for development of the Drexel Disk. Along with a description of the content and structure of the Disk, the paper explores principles used in its design (e.g., use of graphics to represent spatial information, creation of effective recall cues to aid in location and retrieval of information, provision of multiple access paths to accommodate users with different skill levels, etc.). In addition, the paper addresses trade-offs made in balancing desirable features vs. resources and production deadlines, and describes user reactions to various features of the Disk. Finally, the paper reviews considerations underlying plans by the University's Office of Co-operative Education to develop a similar "guidebook" to assist students in optimizing their co-operative education experiences.

Analysis for Early Design

Preliminary Analysis for Design BIBA 133-146
  Mark Keane; Peter Johnson
While previous research into task analysis techniques has gone some way towards characterising techniques which allow one to move from a set of tasks in the world to some generalised model of these tasks, much more work needs to be done on this topic. The present paper puts forward a technique which attempts to deal with a number of issues which arise at this early stage of the design process. The proposed technique, called Preliminary Analysis for Design (PAD), characterises the process of forming a special type of generalised task model (GTM) in terms of three stages: (i) classifying the task world, (ii) generalising and organizing tasks and their elements to form a GTM and (iii) designing the GTM for representation in a subsequent system. It is also argued that this technique should be of some help in evaluating systems at an early stage in the design process.
Refining Early Design Decisions with a Black-Box Model BIBA 147-158
  Andrew F. Monk; Alan Dix
A procedure is described by which the potential usability of a user interface may be evaluated at the earliest stages of product design. It allows the designer to find points in the interface where the principles of "predictability", "simplicity", "consistency" and "reversibility" are violated. The procedure uses a semi-formal notation based on Dix and Runciman's (1985) PIE model. This is used to generate a black-box model of the device in terms of action-effect rules which could be communicated to a user. The approach is illustrated by applying it to an existing editor where it shows up a variety of potential problems for users and how they might be avoided. The relationship between action-effect rules and task-action rules is also discussed.

Pictorial Interfaces

Pictorial Knowledge Bases BIBA 161-173
  P. G. Barker; K. A. Manji
Knowledge bases and user-interfaces are important components of all expert systems. The majority of currently available expert systems use text as the basic medium for both knowledge representation and for dialogue support. This paper describes some approaches to the creation of pictorial knowledge bases and the fabrication of user-interfaces that are based upon the use of pictorial forms.
Visual Languages and Human Computer Interaction BIBA 175-187
  Mikael Kindborg; Anita Kollerbaur
Graphical interfaces have made computers easier to use for people who are not computer experts. Visualization of system status and of ongoing processes has enhanced the user's understanding of how various computer-based tools work and can be used. In addition, interaction via pointing and direct manipulation of symbols and images (for example dynamic windowing and rubberbanding), is often considered to be stimulating and enjoyable.
   However, most existing systems employ only a limited number of those graphical techniques and visual effects available. Several other media use sophisticated visual languages. Comics for example, use voice balloons, visual symbols and graphical effects to communicate action, events, feelings etc to the reader. Their integration of text and pictures into lexivisual presentation is well suited for communicating information and instructions.
   The paper discusses how modes of expression in lexivisual presentation and comics can enhance the communication process between the human and the computer.
Video Browsing and System Response Time BIB 189-198
  John F. Patterson; Carmen Egido

Systems and Interfaces

Formally-Based Techniques for Dialogue Design BIBA 201-213
  Heather Alexander
This paper presents techniques from software engineering to allow software developers to formalise and prototype user interface designs. User-system dialogues are decomposed into primitive steps called events, and are designed in two stages: first, the overall structure is outlined using CSP; second, the individual events which make up that dialogue structure are specified. Both specifications produced are formal and both can be executed immediately. Executing the CSP outline of events provides a simulation of the intended dialogue; adding the event specifications enables a more realistic prototype of the dialogue. The languages have been implemented both in a functional specification framework, providing executable formal specifications, and in C, for implementing the specifications.
The Myth of the Infinitely Fast Machine BIBA 215-228
  Alan J. Dix
Frequently only steady state functionality is considered when specifying and documenting interactive systems, the lag between user's commands and the system's response is ignored. Various compromises are used when implementing these systems in order to approximate the ideal of an infinitely fast machine in the real situation. Unfortunately, in this process, properties such as "what you see is what you have got" may be lost. Such problems are especially bad when applications are embedded in surrounding systems. This paper addresses these problems with the aid of a simple formal model which clarifies typical system behaviour and describes what information is required by the user. The appearance of such information is discussed, critically analysing existing techniques (e.g. wait cursors) and proposing novel ones (e.g. munchman buffers), and the demands that such techniques put on the surrounding systems are examined.
INTERA/P: A User Interface Prototyping Tool BIBA 229-244
  Osamu Hashimoto; Hitoshi Miyai
INTERA/P is an interactive tool for visual prototyping of such panel-based user interfaces as mobile telephones, facsimilies, etc. It realizes an iterative user interface design. INTERA/P consists of an OBJECT EDITOR and a SEQUENCE EDITOR. The OBJECT EDITOR is used to design an operation panel such input-output devices as buttons, lights, LCD displays, etc. This is done graphically on the INTERA/P display. Diagramming techniques are used with the SEQUENCE EDITOR for operational sequence design. The temporal sequence of user operations and the corresponding machine response is represented on this SEQUENCE EDITOR. The SEQUENCE EDITOR also simulates the panel's behaviour which has been determined by the operational sequence. INTERA/P, implemented on a personal computer, is expected to be used in the design and development of user interface products.

Writer's Assistants

Designing Electronic Paper to Fit User Requirements BIBA 247-257
  Cathy Thomas
This report is based upon evaluation of a new type of word processor which involves handwritten input to the computer. Writing is carried out in the same way as when using a pencil and paper. A stylus is used to write on a thin transparent digitising membrane which lies on top of a flat screen. Input appears at the point of the pen, which the software recognises as editing commands. These are implemented with the same results as with a conventional word processor. Assessment of the system involved a variety of techniques. On a theoretical level, it included looking at how the system could be learned by using metaphors or analogies and at how experimental findings could be explained in these terms. On a more practical level, the evaluation process involved an ergonomic study of the proposed interface. User trials were carried out and a comparison was made with a widely-used word processing system already on the market. Another part of the evaluation consisted of a survey of word processing habits in the Civil Service. Together with a study seeking public response to demonstrations of system prototypes, a comprehensive amount of data has been obtained. This facilitates the design of the final system not only to suit the individual user at the interface level of interaction but also to fit the organisational requirements of the user population as a whole.
Human-Computer Factors in the Design of a Multimedia Authoring Environment BIBA 259-265
  Diana Burkhardt; Bob Hendley; Peter Jarratt; Nick Jurascheck; Jim Yandle; Joseph Awumee; Paule Chicken; Gillian Weston
This paper describes some implications of human-computer factors in the design of authoring environments. The work has been conducted within the Multifacet Language Laboratory project at the University of Birmingham. This project is investigating the use of interactive video, speech synthesis, voice recognition and CAL (Computer Aided Learning) in a language laboratory. The authors studied are primarily lecturers from the French and Spanish departments but others including professional trainers in industry and Computer Science lecturers have also taken part in the study. Results from a programme of structured interviews, observations and informal discussions with the authors are presented. Initial analysis suggests a problem of communication between authors with their existing teaching conceptions in their subject and the authoring environment software developers. There is a need for authors to experiment with working systems, some authors find it difficult to design teaching material in the abstract even when relatively experienced in working with CAL. Evolutionary prototyping offers a hopeful approach.
   It is clearly helpful if the user's background is explicitly recognised. Not only should the system adjust to the user's previous history but as the user gains knowledge and experience of creating multimedia CAL the system should respond incrementally to his progress and expanding horizons. This led to the incorporation of a User Model providing adaptability to the individual and, for the range of authors, a mixture of 4GL program generating techniques, content-free packages having fixed internal logic and structure and direct use of a suitable authoring language.

Control Systems' Interfaces

Automation -- Implications for Knowledge Retention as a Function of Operator Control Responsibility BIBA 269-282
  C. S. Narborough-Hall
A perceived consequence of automation, within such contexts as air traffic control, is that the operators' knowledge and overall appreciation of the state of the system could be impaired. This paper describes part of a laboratory based research programme, in which a memory model and pictorial problem solving tasks provided a context for testing constructs applicable to the complex and varied tasks of human-machine systems. Decision making functions assigned to human or machine were varied in a number of ways, namely by assigning subjects to experimental conditions comprising different levels of participation, by altering subjects' responsibility for individual tasks and by changing the accuracy of the computerised system.
   Results indicated some decrement in memory performance due to subjects' adoption of a monitoring role. A high percentage of computer generated errors impaired memory, whereas directing subjects' attention towards the presented information improved memory, in the short term. The implications of these results for system efficiency within an operational environment are discussed. Proposals are made for computer aiding rather than full automation, so that the operator remains within the control loop thus maintaining his overall appreciation of the system state.
A Human-Computer Interface for Control System Design BIBA 283-293
  H. A. Barker; P. Townsend; C. P. Jobling; P. W. Grant; M. Chen; D. A. Simon; I. Harvey
This paper describes a project for the investigation of improvements in the human-computer interface for the computer-aided design of control systems. The paper describes how the task of efficient design may be greatly eased by allowing control system designers to communicate with the computer in their own specialised, high-level, language. In the domain of control system design, the usual language is in the form of block diagrams or signal flow graphs together with mathematical text. This paper describes a system that is being developed to handle these representations. It is shown how the user may draw and edit both block diagrams and signal flow graphs, with transformations between these representations, in a natural and efficient manner. All graphical interaction is mouse and menu based with the input of mathematical text via the keyboard. The system is being developed with particular attention to human factors, using a consistent and logical structure with comprehensive help facilities at all levels. The topological and mathematical data is stored for further processing or editing, which is at present carried out using a rule driven system written in Prolog, but may in future be carried out using a computer algebra system such as MACSYMA.
Parcel Sorting by Speech Recognition: Human Factors Issues BIBA 295-303
  C. R. Frankish; D. M. Jones; C. Madden; K. Waight; J. Stoddart
Two types of vocabulary were compared in a simulated parcel sorting task using automatic speech recognition. One type used place names drawn from operational use (eg. 'Belfast Delivery'), in the other, alpha-numeric codes based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) alphabet were substituted for place names (eg. 'Bravo One'). A Kurzweil speech recogniser was used in isolated mode. The overall rate of work was lower with codes based on the ICAO alphabet than with place names. However, code recognition rates were similar for both vocabularies; the ICAO alphabet gave an average rate of 78%, as compared with 82% for place names. The ICAO alphabet was superior in one respect; the proportion of failures which were detectable, ie. instances where recogniser output did not correspond to any member of the code set, was substantially higher (98%) than for place names (88%). These results are discussed in terms of vocabulary design in general, and with specific reference to the development of a practical system for parcel sorting.

Intelligent and Adaptive Interfaces

Expert Systems -- Interface Insight BIBA 307-324
  Anne Morris
Despite impressive growth forecasts and phenomenal increases in development activity, surprisingly few expert systems have made the transition from prototype into everyday use. Users have, in many cases, simply rejected the systems. One of the main reasons for this has been poor interface design. In this paper, six controversial aspects of user interface are discussed: end-user/knowledge engineer requirements, natural language interfacing, dialogue control, adaptivity, error handling and explanation facilities. Further general interface guidelines are offered to designers of expert systems. It is concluded that, above all, there is a need to move away from inflexible systems-driven dialogue facilities and that much research still needs to be undertaken in this whole field.
Some Critical Remarks on Abstractions for Adaptable Dialogue Managers BIBA 325-343
  Gilbert Cockton
This paper explores the relation between formal abstraction and ease of adaptation for human-computer dialogues. One analysis distinguishes differences in the timing, method and agent of adaptation. A second develops a flexibility heuristic based on formal concepts. These two analyses form the basis of a focussed survey of current abstractions for modelling interaction techniques, display dynamics and within-session adaptation of dialogue sequences. The general requirements for ease of adaptation by both people and computers are used to assess the role of formal methods in achieving a higher standard of adaptability in human-computer dialogues.
An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Adaptive Interface Module (AIM) in Matching Dialogues to Users BIBA 345-359
  C. J. H. Fowler; L. A. Macaulay; S. Siripoksup
The present study represents an evaluation of an Adaptive Interfaces Module, which attempts to offer users an appropriate type of dialogue to meet their particular requirements and preferences. The investigation focuses on two main user characteristics: task/system expertise and cognitive style. Cognitive style was assessed on the field-dependence-independence dimension, and the level of task/system expertise was determined by the amount of exposure to the system. A number of different types of dialogue were generated, which varied in terms of their overall form, structure and content. The analysis of the results suggests that cognitive style and task/system expertise are important variables in determining an effective user-dialogue match. Novice users seem to prefer dialogues which are system-guided and demand a limited and specified sequence of inputs from the user. In contrast, users with increased experience appear to be more able to cope with a wider range of dialogues. The cognitive style findings are discussed in terms of different initial learning strategies adopted by users in the formulation of their task/system models. Finally some of the limitations of the experiment are discussed and suggestions for future research are made.

Psychology of Users

Planning in the Context of Human-Computer Interaction BIBA 363-370
  Richard M. Young; Tony Simon
Interacting with a computer system requires the user to undertake a certain amount of planning, although good interactive systems minimise the need for this kind of cognitive activity. The planning relevant in an HCI context differs in emphasis from that studied in Artificial Intelligence. The very nature of interactive computing environments generates a number of implications for the planning process, the chief of which are (1) that the activity of planning is intimately interleaved with the execution of the plans, and (2) that simple, partial plans are more appropriate than complex, detailed ones. Such an approach to planning yields behaviour bridging the spectrum from backwards-chaining puzzle-like problem solving at one extreme, to the smooth execution of routine methods at the other.
Knowledge Acquisition and Conceptual Models: A Cognitive Analysis of the Interface BIBA 371-379
  Andrew Dillon
Understanding how users process the information available to them through the computer interface can greatly enhance our abilities to design usable systems. This paper details the results of a longitudinal psychological experiment investigating the effect of interface style on user performance, knowledge acquisition and conceptual model development. Through the use of standard performance measures, interactive error scoring and protocol analysis techniques it becomes possible to identify crucial psychological factors in successful human computer use. Results indicate that a distinction between "deep" and "shallow" knowledge of system functioning can be drawn where both types of user appear to interact identically with the machine although significant differences in their respective knowledge exists. The effect of these differences on user ability to perform under stress and transfer to similar systems is noted. Implications for the design of usable systems are discussed.