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Behaviour and Information Technology 20

Editors:Tom Stewart
Publisher:Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Standard No:ISSN 0144-929X
Links:Table of Contents
  1. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 1
  2. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 2
  3. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 3
  4. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 4
  5. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 5
  6. BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 6

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 1

Relaxing the homogeneity assumption in usability testing BIBA 1-7
  David A. Caulton
Much attention has been paid to the question of how many subjects are needed in usability research. Virzi (1992) modelled the accumulation of usability problems with increasing numbers of subjects and claimed that five subjects are sufficient to find most problems. The current paper argues that this answer is based on an important assumption, namely that all types of users have the same probability of encountering all usability problems. If this homogeneity assumption is violated, then more subjects are needed. A modified version of Virzi's model demonstrates that the number of subjects required increases with the number of heterogeneous groups. The model also shows that the more distinctive the groups, the more subjects will be required. This paper will argue that the simple answer 'five' cannot be applied in all circumstances. It most readily applies when the probability that a user will encounter a problem is both high and similar for all users. It also only applies to simple usability tests that seek to detect the presence, but not the statistical prevalence, of usability problems.
Age differences in the performance of information retrieval tasks BIBA 9-22
  Daniel Freudenthal
In two experiments younger (18-25 years) and older (60-70 years) participants performed an information retrieval task in which they searched for the answers to questions in a hierarchical menu structure. Participants' movement speed, spatial ability, spatial memory, working memory capacity and reasoning speed were measured. Results showed older participants to be slower than younger participants on overall latencies on the information retrieval task. This slowing increases with each consecutive step in the menu structure. Regression analysis showed that movement speed, reasoning speed and spatial ability predicted the overall latencies accurately. Modelling the consecutive steps showed that latencies on the first selection are predicted by movement speed and reasoning speed. Memory and spatial measures are predictors for latencies on steps further into the menu structure only. This finding is consistent with increased slowing of older participants for later selections and suggests that deep menu structures are less suited for older users.
The role of age, foreknowledge and complexity in learning to operate a complex device BIBA 23-35
  Daniel Freudenthal
Old (60-70 years) and young (18-25 years) adults performed two experiments in which they had to learn to operate a simulated device. It was assessed whether age differences in performance were comparable over groups with different levels of foreknowledge. Of particular interest was the question how age differences between groups with limited foreknowledge compared to those between groups with foreknowledge. The role of complexity of operating procedures was studied by using tasks which differed in the number of actions that was needed for completion. In experiment 1, which employed three complexity levels, no effects of age were found as a function of presence of foreknowledge or complexity of procedures. Experiment 2, however, which employed an additional complexity level, showed that the performance of old adults with foreknowledge was poorer than that of young adults with foreknowledge. Complexity had no differential effect with respect to either age or amount of foreknowledge.
Navigational issues in the design of online self-administered questionnaires BIBA 37-45
  Kent L. Norman; Zachary Friedman; Kirk Norman; Rod Stevenson
Answering questions on surveys involves the access of internal knowledge structures, the retrieval of records from external databases and the navigation of items on the interface. In this study a number of alternative designs for online questionnaire presentation were investigated. A long heterogeneous survey was partitioned in four ways: whole form, semantic sections, screen pages and single items. Questionnaires were presented with or without an index, resulting in eight versions. Neither initial completion times nor subjective assessments differed among the eight versions due to the highly linear navigation of the surveys. Respondents were asked to revisit 16 questions based on the topic of the question or on the question number and to change their answers. Revision times reflected ease of finding items in the structure of the survey and the use of an index to the sections of the questionnaire.
Design and evaluation of online multimedia maintenance manuals BIBA 47-52
  W. P. Brinkman; V. P. Buil; R. Cullen; R. Gobits; F. L. Van Nes
Maintenance in production environments is becoming increasingly complex as machines become more technologically advanced and need less maintenance. As a result, maintenance personnel face more difficult tasks. At the same time the maintenance engineers obtain less experience with the tasks. In this context, online multimedia manuals are thought to give better support for searching information and expressing complex interactions with physical objects than paper manuals. Three prototypes were designed and formative evaluated in an industrial environment. The evaluation of the first prototype showed that maintenance engineers encountered serious problems with the online multimedia manual, as they omitted crucial steps in the task. The second prototype addressed this problem. The third prototype addressed a problem observed in the second prototype when subjects switched between the online manual and the machine controls.
Equation entry and editing via handwriting and gesture recognition BIBA 53-67
  Steve Smithies; Kevin Novins; James Arvo
We describe a system for freehand entry and editing of mathematical expressions using a pen and tablet. The expressions are entered in the same way that they would be written on paper. The system interprets the results and generates output in a form suitable for use in other applications, such as word processors or symbolic manipulators. Interpretation includes character segmentation, character recognition, and formula parsing. Our interface incorporates easy to use tools for correcting interpretation errors at any stage. The user can also edit the handwritten representation and ask the system to reinterpret the results. By recovering the formula's structure directly from its handwritten form, the user is free to use common conventions of mathematical notation without regard to internal representation. We report the results of a small user study, which indicate that the new style of interaction is effective.
Harnessing knowledge workers' participation for IT planning effectiveness: the informational and motivational mediating effects of users' microplanning behaviour BIBA 69-77
  Sofiane Sahraoui
In most organizations, knowledge is produced on a continuous basis such that formal planning methods fail to capture it on time for utilization into effective IT solutions. Microplanning, as user-led informal planning behaviour, allows users as knowledge workers to continuously use their knowledge and skills to identify opportunities for using IT or replanning its existing use. This is the informational effect of microplanning. Microplanning is also an empowering process which enhances users' own motivation. This empowerment effect is referred to as the motivational effect. User microplanning behaviour therefore constitutes the main construct of the model of microplanning effectiveness described in this study. It yields effectiveness through two paths, informational and motivational. After operational definitions for the variables were derived, the two main hypotheses of the study were empirically tested on a sample of 263 knowledge workers. Results of the study fully support the informational and motivational effects of microplanning.

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 2

Guest editorial BIB 79
  Tomas Berns; Yngve Sundblad
Five years' experience from CID: an interdisciplinary competence centre for design of usable interactive IT applications BIBA 81-89
  Yngve Sundblad; Soren Lenman
The Centre for user oriented IT Design (CID) at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden was established in 1995. CID brings together researchers and designers from computer science, arts, media and communication, and human sciences with industry and user organizations. The focus is on the design and study of usable, interactive IT applications, integrating usability aspects, technical aspects and aesthetic aspects. The main themes of CID's activities are Connected communities, Interactive learning environments, Forms of interaction and User orientation, the latter which is also a central aspect of the work in the other areas. In this paper, experience from the first 5 years of CID is described and discussed.
Shared 3-D workplace exhibitions as sites for community meetings BIBA 91-99
Information exchange and communication in large, distributed organizations is a research project aimed at designing and testing shared, 3-D exhibition environments for geographically dispersed organizations. The research is associated with a long-term project sponsored by the National Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) in which a network for the exchange of organizational skills is created. The research project has tested the usefulness of 3-D environments as an extension of other communication services used in the LO-network, such as regional conferences, printed newsletters, email, electronic discussion forums, and websites. Two design workshops have been arranged in which 17 network members have learned how to build and navigate in the 3-D environment. The workshops resulted in the construction of an exhibition area where different design ideas were tested. Feedback from members was documented in videotaped interviews and an indication of the positive response is given through the groups ongoing additions to the exhibition site.
VideoCafe -- exploring mediaspaces in public places within organizations BIBA 101-110
  Konrad Tollmar; Didier Chincholle; Britt Klasson; Thomas Stephanson
This paper describes our studies of mediaspaces which are embedded within public places in organizations so as to examine the hypothesis that individuals might benefit even when working apart -- from opportunities for light informal interaction. A set of full-scale prototypes were used and assessed over extensive periods of time. The informal observations and reflection in design of these places have been supplemented by formal studies. We found that great care needs to be taken when designing these places from an architectural point of view. For some of the places, we would like to suggest using architectural features when altering the room rather than technology. In other settings, the artful deployment of communication media might be more effective.
Meetings in a distributed group of experts: comparing face-to-face, chat and collaborative virtual environments BIBA 111-117
  Ann Lantz
This paper focuses on Collaborative Virtual Environments, and their potential to support work meetings for geographically distributed experts. The research question concerns the difference between face-to-face-, chat-, and CVE- meetings with regard to efficiency, communication process, problems with the technology, enjoyment and competence development. A small group of experts were observed during their natural work meetings. Six of the groups scheduled meetings were held three times in a chat environment and three times in a CVE. Results suggests that chat and CVE meetings are experienced as more task oriented than face-to-face meetings, and that avatars support turn taking and are enjoyable.
KidStory: a technology design partnership with children BIBA 119-125
  Gustav Taxen; Allison Druin; Carina Fast; Marita Kjellin
We present a new design method that is used within the KidStory project to enable a large number of young children to participate as partners in the design of advanced storytelling technology. The method is an adaptation of the cooperative inquiry method for school environments and uses a combination of evaluation, brainstorming and traditional education methods. These activities have lead to the elaboration of new ideas, impacted the design of existing software and produced a number of interesting new technology designs.
Crossing the line: a field study of inhabited television BIBA 127-140
  John Bowers
This paper reports on an ethnographic field study of 'Out Of This World' (OOTW, Benford et al. 1999) an experiment in 'inhabited television' combining broadcast technologies with a collaborative virtual environment in a live show. The study focuses on the work of producing OOTW and how personnel managed the manifold contingencies of working with complex technology. The use of a specially developed virtual camera control application is discussed together with the methods the director used for live editing views from cameras into a 'broadcast from virtual reality'. The challenges faced by the multiple professions involved (TV personnel, research scientists, actors) are documented and the viability of inhabited TV as a 'new medium' is assessed. Future technological refinements are briefly discussed along with some general implications for CSCW and 'media studies' of the work reported.

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 3

Printing and screen reading in the medical school curriculum: Guttenberg vs. the cathode ray tube BIBA 143-148
  Linda A. Martin; Mark W. Platt
Integrating computer-based learning into the medical school curriculum is hampered by students' propensity to print all digitally available material. The research presented here examines print vs. on-screen consumption of information. In interviews with medical school students variables -- Time/Convenience Issues; Habituated Learning Styles and Document Formatting -- emerged as patterns repeated by five or more subjects when asked 'why do you print instead of reading material on the screen?' These variables suggest there may be both hardware and software applications that could enhance the utility of student laptops. For example, less cumbersome computers with software allowing simultaneous multi-document use and annotating might be valuable features for students. Several variables, however, are outside the control of academic computing; for example, habituated learning from print and student time constraints. These findings provide a foundation to develop hardware and software design that would encourage on-screen use of information.
Visual search and preferences concerning different types of guidance displays BIBA 149-158
  Guy Labiale
This research evaluates the influence of different designs of in car guidance information on visual explorations and subjective preferences, taking into account the drivers characteristics. The results showed that each guidance information representation factors -- the number of exit roads, the presence or absence of a landmark and the types of intersections -- has a significant influence on the mean maximum duration of glances. Moreover, below a raised threshold of complexity, the number of glances remains stable and independent of the quantity of information presented, whereas passing this threshold demands extra glances from the driver. Lastly, the majority of drivers prefers the complex guidance designs, enabling them to form an unambiguous mental representation. Some effects of the age and gender factors are found. The overall results are interpreted in the framework of the perceptual processes and visuo-spatial working memory models. In conclusion, psycho-ergonomics recommendations are proposed.
The role of visual search in the design of effective soft keyboards BIBA 159-166
  Andrew Sears; Julie A. Jacko; Josey Chu; Francisco Moro
As portable, handheld computing devices become more common, alternatives to traditional keyboards must be explored. These alternatives must be compact, lightweight and sufficiently efficient to support the users' tasks. One alternative is the use of small physical keyboards or soft keyboards presented on touch-sensitive surfaces. Many alternative layouts have been explored, including the QWERTY, Dvorak, telephone and various alphabetic organizations. Soukoreff and MacKenzie proposed a model to predict typing times for alternative layouts, but have experienced limited success matching their predictions to observed performance. This paper proposes a revision of the visual search component of their model that considers the familiarity of the organization and the number of letters represented by each key. Results are reported of an experiment that supports the claim that both familiarity and the number of letters per key must be considered when predicting visual search times for alternative keyboard layouts.
User performance and attitude towards schemes for alphanumeric data entry using restricted input devices BIBA 167-188
  Diarmid Marshall; John C. Foster; Mervyn A. Jack
Results are reported from two usability trials in which a total of 14 schemes for alphanumeric data entry on television screens were evaluated. The seven schemes in the first trial used only the navigation and select keys on the TV remote control unit. The second trial used the best scheme from the first trial (slightly modified), a further six schemes using different combinations of the navigation and alphanumeric keys and a portable, infra-red keyboard. In both trials task completion rates and times were measured together with the number of keystrokes. User preferences were measured using attitude questionnaires and explicit ranking of the schemes. As expected, the keyboard was, overall, the best scheme-though not the most accurate. Where only a limited range of input keys were available, grid display schemes were preferred over menus and dynamic displays. Where an alphanumeric keypad was available on the remote control unit, a multiple press scheme was marginally preferred.
Exploration strategies, performance, and error consequences when learning a complex computer task BIBA 189-198
  Dimitri Van Der Linden; Sabine Sonnentag; Michael Frese; Cathy Van Dyck
When trying to learn a complex task, people can use different strategies. They can use systematic exploration in which they take on an active approach to discover the computer functions and make use of problem solving steps such as planning, evaluation of feedback, and control of emotion and motivation. Alternatively, they can use non-systematic strategies like trial-and-error, rigid exploration, and encapsulation in information seeking. This study examined whether the exploration strategies were related to error consequences and performance when people learned a new computer program. Strategies were assessed by means of coding. Analysis showed strong correlations between strategies, error consequences, and task performance. These results can have implications for training design and human reliability in dealing with complex devices.
Task analysis for knowledge descriptions (TAKD): a requiem for a method BIBA 199-212
  Dan Diaper
The primary purpose of this paper is to stop people using the Task Analysis for Knowledge Descriptions (TAKD) method. Secondly, by describing the history of TAKD's development and demise over nearly two decades, it allows lessons to be learned that may be relevant to existing methods and to those being developed. Both the adequacy of TAKD as a product and its delivery to HCI and software engineering practitioners is examined, and TAKD's failure on both these aspects is described. The value of developing software tools to support analysts is emphasised and illustrated by the development of the LUTAKD toolkit. It is argued that it is essential for task analysis to be able to model software if it is to be used as part of a software requirements and design specification process.
Perception of job security in a process of technological change: its influence on psychological well-being BIBA 213-223
  Jorge Conde Vieitez; Alberto De La Torre Carcia; Maria Teresa Vega Rodriquez
The main objective of this study was to investigate the perception that workers have of technological change and its relation with psychological variables. The hypotheses investigated are based on the existence of the perception of technological change as a threat to job security and how this affects levels of anxiety, general stress and depression. The study was carried out in two departments of a car component factory: Engine Dept.-1 and Engine Dept.-2, outstanding for the different degrees to which technological innovation had been implemented. As procedure, a questionnaire made up of different scales was administered to a sample of 148 workers. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used as the fundamental statistical instrument. The results indicate that some variables (studies, department type, occupational category, technology type) significantly affect the perception that workers have of technology in relation to job security. The significant relation between technological perception and psychological well-being is also confirmed (F (4, 124) = 0.17, p = 0.00) although no significant differences were found in stress. In conclusion, the results indicate the importance of modifying workers' perceptions of technology in order to prevent problems of psychological well-being.
Technological coupling, job characteristics and operators' well-being as moderated by desirability of control BIBA 225-236
  Anat Dvash; Bilha Mannheim
This study proposes that the nature of Automated Manufacturing Technology (AMT) -- as reflected in the degree of 'technological coupling' and as perceived by shop floor operators in terms of new job control characteristics (timing and method control, monitoring and problem solving demand, production responsibility) -- affects operators' psychological well-being (satisfaction and mental health). The study sample consisted of 216 operators of AMT equipment. Findings indicate that technological coupling is negatively related to the job characteristics of timing and method control, and to psychological well-being variables. Operators' satisfaction is positively related to problem solving, production responsibility and timing and method control. Mental health is negatively related to production responsibility. Implications for job redesign and employees selection to AMT work units are discussed. Yet, results indicate that operators' response to technological coupling is contingent upon their desirability of control (DC). For operators with low DC (as opposed to high DC) coupling conditions did not make any difference in psychological well-being.

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 4

Optimizing the reading of electronic text using rapid serial visual presentation BIBA 237-247
  Monica S. Castelhano; Paul Muter
The focus on communications technology in recent years has led to the question of how to best display electronic text onto small-screened devices. Past studies have shown that the compact method of rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) is efficient but not well liked. Two experiments were conducted to explore ways of improving the preference for and feasibility of RSVP. In experiment 1, the effects of a completion meter, punctuation pauses, and variable word duration were studied. Although the sentence-by-sentence and normal page formats were still superior, post-experiment ratings indicated that punctuation pauses improved user preference for RSVP, and its preference increased in general with practice. In experiment 2, a modified RSVP condition included a completion meter, punctuation pauses, interruption pauses and pauses at clause boundaries. This condition was significantly preferred to a normal RSVP condition. The present enhancements may increase the feasibility of using RSVP with small displays.
Direct activation: a concept to encourage tailoring activities BIBA 249-263
  Volker Wulf; Bjorn Golombek
The design of the user interface plays a major role in encouraging users to tailor an application. This paper focuses on a particular design issue. The question is how to support users in finding those functions which allow tailoring of an application. An empirical investigation shows that this is a major problem when users try to tailor applications. In order to tackle this problem the concept of direct activation is developed, which simplifies the finding of a tailoring function at the moment a tailorable function needs to be modified. To evaluate the effectiveness of the concept of direct activation in supporting tailoring activities, the concept has been implemented and an evaluation study carried out. The results of this study support the assumption that direct activation eases tailoring activities. Finally, the potentials and limitations of this concept are discussed.
Cognitive interference in computer anxiety BIBA 265-273
  Brooke Smith; Peter Caputi
This study investigated the sources of cognitive interference in high vs. low computer anxious university students. A total of 149 psychology undergraduates were administered measures of computer anxiety, trait anxiety, computer experience and positive and negative thoughts associated with computers and computer use. It was hypothesized that individuals high in computer anxiety would report a greater number of debilitative thoughts than individuals low in computer anxiety. However, individuals high in computer anxiety were expected to report more on-task thoughts than individuals low in computer anxiety. In support of the hypotheses, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed that the high computer anxious group reported experiencing significantly more negative evaluations, off-task thoughts and negative computer cognitions than the low computer anxious group. In addition, the high computer anxious group reported fewer computer enjoyment cognitions than the low computer anxious group. Contrary to previous research findings, computer anxiety was not related to on-task thoughts when statistically controlling for off-task thoughts. The results are discussed in light of cognitive models of anxiety and prior research.
Development and validation of an Internet self-efficacy scale BIBA 275-280
  Gholamreza Torkzadeh; Thomas P. van Dyke
The self-efficacy construct is a useful base for developing measures of the individual's self-perception and self-competency in interacting with the Internet. Using 277 responses, a 17-item Internet self-efficacy scale is developed and validated. A principal factor analysis of the scale supported a conceptually meaningful three-factor model with high alpha reliabilities. The recommended three-factor 17-item instrument measures Internet self-efficacy in terms of surfing/browsing, encryption/decryption and system manipulation. Evidence of reliability and construct validity is presented for the hypothesized measurement model and future research is discussed.
Comparison between on- and off-campus behaviour and adaptability in online learning: a case from China BIBA 281-291
  Xiaoyan Xie; Fuzong Lin; Tao Zhang
More and more universities and colleges are providing online courses not only for on-campus students but also for off-campus students. Tutors have to consider the differences between on- and off-campus students in order to improve effective instruction. Comparisons are made in this paper between on- and off-campus performances in online learning from four areas: learning time, path of browsing courseware, intercommunication and adaptability towards online learning. The last two areas are emphasized. Multiple approaches were adopted to collect data, which include questionnaires, posted documents, online logs, interviews and observations. This study shows that the rush time of online learning, paths of browsing courseware and favourite intercommunication means of on- and off-campus students are similar. But there are also some differences between these two groups such as competence of self-learning, enthusiasm of interpersonal exchange, dependence on tutors, feeling of learning stress, etc.
E-business: boom or gloom? BIBA 293-298
  Chris W. Clegg; Belen Icasati-Johanson; Stuart Bennett
This essay offers some propositions and predictions about the future conduct and effectiveness of e-business. It is argued that successful e-business activity will require the effective management of certain core 'building blocks'. These are concerned with new technology, supply chain relationships, business processes and empowered employees. It is argued that the UK's track record is poor in these areas, in large part due to many organizations lacking a systemic understanding of these issues and the relationships between them. It is predicted that such systemic understanding will get harder for organizations (as systems get more complex and tightly coupled) and that the majority of e-business ventures, in the short to medium term, will fail to meet their objectives.

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 5

A personal view BIBA 299-305
  Ahmet E. Cakir
In the 20 years from its first issue, BIT has been active in an area of technology with fast and thorough changes. After scanning through 20 volumes, I am surprised to detect that the published scope of BIT has remained almost unchanged, and many statements in the first editorial could be published today without replacing a single word. BIT did not give up its basic principles published in the first issue, e.g. the 'intention to show that academic rigour need not be sacrificed in order to achieve relevance and practicality' although in the two decades of its life span not only one of the biggest empires of all time collapsed but also an unprecedented change in technology was to be witnessed. The makers of BIT, i.e. its editors, authors and referees, did not limit their role to witnessing the change passively.
   The papers of the past 20 years focused on applications and their usability rather than on treating issues related to bits and bytes (technical technologies) or discussing social issues related to technology. For the next 20 years, we may try to deal also with more practical issues arising from the emergence of electronic media fully emancipated from paper. It took about 20,000 years to develop graphic art and 500 to cultivate typography -- why not help to establish the art and technology of electronic communication in a much shorter time?
Community computing as human-computer interaction BIBA 307-314
  John M. Carroll
There is too little engagement between community computing and human - computer interaction. In the future there should be more. Better integrating community computing and human-computer interaction can help to make HCI richer and more comprehensive, conceptually and methodologically. It can help HCI to have more of an impact on society and on everyday collective life. Six examples are briefly discussed.
The past recaptured: in search of lost paradigms BIBA 315-321
  Susan M. Dray; David A. Siegel
In the mid 1980s, a cluster of HF professionals described a new paradigm in which technology would be designed for a better fit not just with individual users but also with organizational systems and dynamics. The term 'Macroergonomics' took hold to describe this broadening of perspective. This concept was a manifestation of the holistic design philosophy and values of the user-centred design (UCD) paradigm, but tended to place more emphasis on how technology fit into organizational systems than on either design or on individual use of technology. While the benefits in the quality of work life that were expected to result from paying more attention to how organizations managed technology and technological change were many, the track record has been disappointing. The promotion of a focus on the organizational context of technology did not lead directly to practical application or make companies more humane for either their workers or for external customers. Today, however, with the maturation and broadening application of user-centred design approaches, the time is ripe to apply them to the design of information systems within companies as vigorously as they are being applied to products and systems intended for consumers.
Changing perspectives on the organizational consequences of information technology BIBA 323-328
  Ken Eason
Early predictions of the impact of computers on organizations ranged from 'human-computer symbiosis' to automation and the collapse of jobs. The findings from impact research show that there was evidence for all predictions that were made. This demonstrated that the technology is very flexible and can be deployed to facilitate many different organizational outcomes. However, more recent research shows that the design process -- despite significant progress in the adoption of user-centred methods -- remains technocentric and organizational outcomes are often unplanned and unwanted. The paper concludes that current predictions about the development of virtual organizations are likely to be over simplistic and that the usage of methods to assess organizational options and design socio-technical systems are necessary if emerging forms of technology are to be effectively deployed.
Usability and software architecture BIBA 329-338
  Bonnie E. John; Len Bass
The role of software architecture with respect to usability has evolved over the past 20 years. The architectures of the 1980s and early 1990s assumed that usability was primarily a property of the presentation of information. Therefore, simply separating the presentation from the dialogue and application made it easy to modify that presentation after user testing. A more popular belief in the 1990s was that usability concerns greatly affected system functionality as well as the presentation. This emphasis took attention away from architectural support (beyond separation). Achieving the correct functionality for a given system became paramount. It is our observation that even if presentation and functionality of a system are well designed, the usability of a system can be greatly compromised if the underlying architecture does not support human concerns beyond modifiability. This paper will present a new role for software architecture in usability, preliminary research and practice stemming from this role and a research agenda for the future.
Adaptively distributing cognition: a decision-making perspective on human-computer interaction BIBA 339-346
  Stephen J. Payne; Andrew Howes; William R. Reader
Two important phenomena in human-computer interaction (HCI) are considered: the reliance on external information rather than memory, and the interleaving of planning and action. These phenomena are important, it is argued, because they challenge some particular cognitive models. However, we reject those views, influential in the HCI literature, that phenomena like these require radically new conceptions of cognition or behaviour. It is shown that the phenomena are not universal laws of behaviour, but that instead people decide how much to remember and how much to plan according to a consideration of the costs and benefits of different strategies. Thus the classical cognitive conception of humans as adaptive decision makers is vital for a deep understanding of HCI.
Sociability and usability in online communities: determining and measuring success BIBA 347-356
  Jenny Preece
Little attention has focused so far on evaluating the success of online communities. This paper begins to identify some key determinants of sociability and usability that help to determine their success. Determinants of sociability include obvious measures such as the number of participants in a community, the number of messages per unit of time, members' satisfaction, and some less obvious measures such as amount of reciprocity, the number of on-topic messages, trustworthiness and several others. Measures of usability include numbers of errors, productivity, user satisfaction and others. The list is not exhaustive but it is intended to provide a starting point for research on this important topic that will lead to develop of metrics. To avoid creating false impressions it is advisable to use several measures and to triangulate with qualitative data, particularly from ethnographic studies.
A personal perspective on behaviour and information technology: a 20-year progress and future trend BIBA 357-366
  Xiaowen Fang; Gavriel Salvendy
This article reviews the studies on human aspects of information technology undertaken by Salvendy and his colleagues in the past two decades. By looking into the evolution of these studies, the article discusses that technology has been driving this discipline. The future of this field is envisioned.
Universal usability as a stimulus to advanced interface design BIBA 367-376
  Ben Shneiderman; Harry Hochheiser
The desire to make computing available to broader populations has historically been a motivation for research and innovation that led to new breakthroughs in usability. Menus, graphical user interfaces and the World Wide Web are examples of innovative technological solutions that have arisen out of the challenge of bringing larger and more diverse groups of users into the world of computing. Universal usability is the latest such challenge: In order to build systems that are universally usable, designers must account for technology variety, user diversity and gaps in user knowledge. These issues are particularly challenging and important in the context of increasing the usability of the World Wide Web. To raise awareness, web designers are urged to provide universal usability statements that offer users information about the usability of their sites. These statements can inform users and thereby reduce frustration and confusion. Further steps toward universal usability might be achieved through research aimed at developing tools that would encourage or promote usability. The paper closes with five proposals for future research.
Twenty years of telecommunications research in BIT BIBA 377-386
  Karol Szlichcinski
This paper reflects on 20 years of behavioural research in telecommunications published in BIT. The past 20 years have seen major changes in telecommunications technology and applications. They have also seen the deregulation of telecommunications markets and the pervasive penetration of the working environment by networked systems. Papers published in BIT have reflected these changes. Some research topics have attracted continuing interest throughout this period, and two are reviewed briefly: the effect of network delays on users and the relative effectiveness of different media and user choices between them. In addition many new technical and theoretical developments have been reported. Two major theoretical trends have been the convergence between behavioural research in telecommunications and computing, and the rise in social-science-based research. The question whether published behavioural research has been able to influence the development of the technologies studied is considered. Finally, the paper speculates on future topics for research.
The running ergonomist; a permanent appearance? BIBA 387-393
  Floris Van Nes
The title refers to the customary late consultation of ergonomists by engineers and designers when they have developed new products or systems. Why does this happen so late? Six examples from the author's career in which technology got too far ahead of ergonomics are described, necessitating the ergonomist to run behind. There were, and are, a number of causes for this lag. The engineer's and designer's overrating of the user's capacities in system operation is one of them. A contemplation of what has been accomplished by information ergonomics, also called user system interaction, up to the present day does not yield full satisfaction. Constant alertness and information provision by the ergonomist are necessary. Finally, a possibility to solve the described problems permanently is given.
20 years in the life of a long-term empirical personal electronic filing study BIBA 395-409
  Paul Wilson
This paper reports on the first 20 years of an empirical study of electronic support for filing and retrieving hardcopy documents and electronic files. A set of requirements for the ideal personal electronic filing system is documented, and the architecture of the system that is in use in the study is described. Sixty key questions associated with this topic are listed together with a summary of the answers found to date for each one. The paper concludes that electronic filing is feasible and effective, that the potential longevity of such systems introduces new challenges, and that it is time to start exploring how an electronic filing system can be used to support the acquisition, development and creation of knowledge.

BIT 2001 Volume 20 Issue 6

An empirical investigation of the novice experience with soft keyboards BIBA 411-418
  I. Scott MacKenzie; Shawn X. Zhang
An experiment with 12 participants tested text entry rates on two sizes of soft keyboards with either a Qwerty layout or a layout presenting a randomized letter arrangement after each tap. The randomized layout simulated the novice experience by requiring users to visually scan the layout for each tap to find the intended letter. Rates for the Qwerty layouts were about 20 wpm with no significant difference between the large and small size. Rates for both sizes of the randomized layouts were very low, about 5.4 wpm. This is the expected walk-up text entry rate with a soft keyboard bearing an unfamiliar layout. This empirical result allows us to reject a previous model of novice interaction that used Fitts' law for stylus movement and the Hick-Hyman law for visual scan time.
Virtual information space navigation: evaluating the use of head tracking BIBA 419-426
  S. J. Westerman; T. Cribbin; R. Wilson
This paper reports a study of information search in a three-dimensional virtual information space. A comparison was made of performance with and without head tracking, as provided by a virtual reality headset. Twenty-five percent of participants in a head tracking condition experienced feelings of nausea, and efficiency of navigation was poorer in this condition than in a comparison condition in which participants viewed the virtual environment on a conventional CRT. Spatial ability interacted with 'head tracking' condition, with low spatial ability participants performing more poorly when using head tracking than when this facility was not available. It is concluded that the use of dual input systems in the head tracking condition (head tracking and mouse) increased the cognitive demands placed on participants, resulting in a less 'robust' interface.
Displaying meta-information in context BIBA 427-432
  Mats Lind; Stefan Seipel; Christer Mattiason
Very often information exists that would be helpful for process control operators if it could be presented in the context they work in -- the process graphics. Examples are instructional material, visualizations of automated sequences, output from knowledge-based systems or simply annotations that one team of operators wants to communicate with another. Several existing distortion techniques were reviewed that would allow the ordinary process graphics to take less space leaving room for additional information. However, these techniques were rejected, mainly because all parts of a process control screen need to be readable at all times. A new technique is proposed and its readability experimentally evaluated with promising results.
How consistent is your web design? BIBA 433-447
  A. Ant Ozok; Gavriel Salvendy
Previous studies have indicated that when interfaces are designed consistently with regards to structure and physical attributes, higher performance and lower error rates are achieved than when interfaces are designed inconsistently. The objective of the current study was to develop a methodology to measure all aspects of computer interface consistency and assess the impact of linguistic inconsistency of interface design on user performance. Based on the background literature, seven factors were identified as affecting overall consistency. Based on this identification, a structured questionnaire of 125 items was developed and a factor analysis was conducted which reduced the number of items in the questionnaire to 94 and identified the following nine factors which contribute to consistency: text structure, general text features, information representation, lexical categories, meaning, user knowledge, text content, communicational attributes and physical attributes. A series of four experiments were conducted with 140 subjects using four different tasks and eight different interface types. The internal reliability of the questionnaire was 0.81, and the inter-rater reliability was 0.75. The instrument effectively identified all of the inconsistencies in interface designs. The instrument can be utilized both as an evaluation and as a design tool for Web-based interfaces.
User-centred design does make a difference. The case of decision support systems in crop production BIBA 449-460
  Caroline Parker; Murray Sinclair
This paper lends weight to the argument that user-centred design is important in design and development of software systems by describing the case of decision support systems for crop production. Decision support systems (DSS) are increasingly being seen as useful mechanisms for the transfer of scientific knowledge and 'best practice'; particularly in the field of agriculture. Although many systems have been developed, few can be termed 'successful' (i.e. have a significant uptake by intended users, and used by them). This paper provides evidence to support the importance of a user-centred approach by showing that each issue considered to be relevant to the failure of DSS in crop production can be addressed by the appropriate inclusion of users in the design and development process. Positive evidence in the shape of successful systems that have employed UCD is also presented.