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International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 12

Editors:Kay M. Stanney; Gavriel Salvendy
Publisher:Ablex Publishing Corporation
Standard No:ISSN 1044-7318
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 1
  2. IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 2
  3. IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 3/4

IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 1

A Review of Presence and Performance in Virtual Environments BIBA 1-41
  Eric B. Nash; Gregory W. Edwards; Jennifer A. Thompson; Woodrow Barfield
This article provides a review of the literature related to presence and performance within virtual environments. Summary tables are provided to present the reader with a general framework in which to evaluate the type of studies that have been run, as well as representative findings across different tasks and virtual environments. Within the general area of performance, the topics of navigation and knowledge acquisition have been expanded, as they are seen as important aspects of tasks performed within virtual environments drawing much attention from researchers. In addition, given that a sense of presence is an important aspect of the virtual environment experience, the literature related to presence within virtual environments is also reviewed. The summary tables provided can be used to indicate areas where additional research efforts are needed to more fully explain how human performance and presence are affected by use of virtual environment technology. This article concludes with a discussion of potential relations between presence and performance and directions for future research.
Metacognitive Processes in Human-Computer Interaction: Self-Assessments of Knowledge as Predictors of Computer Expertise BIBA 43-71
  Kim-Phuong L. Vu; Gerard L. Hanley; Thomas Z. Strybel; Robert W. Proctor
Metacognition, a person's knowledge of her or his own cognitive processes, is a concept that can be applied to many areas of human-computer interaction. This article reviews the state of contemporary knowledge regarding metacognition and describes implications for the domain of human-computer interaction. A conceptual framework is presented that distinguishes monitoring and regulation processes of metacognition. One aspect of metacognition, self-evaluation of knowledge, was investigated for a word processing application as an illustration. An experiment was conducted to evaluate which of four methods of self-assessment of expertise was the best predictor of declarative knowledge (accuracy and completeness of descriptions on how to perform a task). In addition, the experiment examined whether classifying users based on self-reported estimates of expertise would produce differences in their declarative descriptions. Results showed that individuals' ratings of their overall knowledge were better predictors than were estimations of frequency of use, as would be expected from the literature on metacognitive monitoring. In addition, classifying users based on their self-ratings of expertise showed differences in accuracy of declarative knowledge and strategy chosen to perform a task. Experts were more accurate in their descriptions of how to complete a task compared to novices and used more complex strategies to complete hard tasks.
A Hierarchical Search History for Web Searching BIBA 73-88
  Xiaowen Fang
A hierarchical search history for Web searching was developed based on user-centered design principles and was proposed to assist users in controlling a Web search process. Two experimental search engines and browsers were developed. One was based on currently available search engines and the other was based on the user-centered search history design. An experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness of the search history. The dependent variables were the number of relevant Web sites identified during a 1-hr test period and satisfaction. The independent variables were type of search engine and task complexity. The experimental results suggested that with a high complexity task, search history improved users' search performance by 124% and satisfaction of use by 42.5% as compared to the current search engine.
Users' Recognition of Semantic Affinity Among Tasks and the Effects of Consistency BIBA 89-105
  Jisoo Park; Wan Chul Yoon; Hokyoung Ryu
Designing consistent procedures is greatly emphasized to reduce the cognitive complexity that users of software programs and electronic devices must face. It becomes more difficult, however, to achieve consistency as more functions are included in such systems. This article shows experimentally that the effects of consistency depend on the semantic affinity among corresponding tasks that users recognize. It was found that, when performing a task, the user tended to reconstruct the task procedure out of semantic affinity rather than remembering procedures for individual tasks. Another experiment demonstrated that the recognition of affinity could be affected by the design of the user interface. State closures (i.e., the modes in which a group of functions are available) were shown to be particularly influential to recognized affinity and to the expectation of procedural similarity. The results imply corresponding design principles regarding consistency, task knowledge, and the interface.
Work With the Visual Display Unit: Health Consequences BIBA 107-134
  Arne Aaras; Gunnar Horgen; Ola Ro
This article is a review of the international literature regarding health consequences for visual display unit (VDU) workers. The 2 main problems reported by VDU workers, visual discomfort and musculoskeletal pain, are particularly focused. Important factors for designing the lighting system and workplace are given. A procedure for optometric corrections is discussed. This article emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary cooperation to reduce visual discomfort and musculoskeletal pain.
Using Electroencephalogram to Investigate Stages of Visual Search in Visually Impaired Computer Users: Preattention and Focal Attention BIBA 135-150
  Julie A. Jacko; Armando Barreto; Ingrid U. Scott; Robert H., Jr. Rosa; Charles J. Pappas
Researchers have shown that computer users with impaired vision perform visual search more slowly than their fully sighted counterparts. However, little is known about intermediate stages of visual search that exist between stimuli detection and identification. Therefore, the primary focus of this research is to investigate 2 intermediate stages of visual search in visually impaired computer users: preattention and focal attention. A total of 10 volunteers, 1 participant who possessed normal vision and 9 participants possessing impaired vision, underwent clinical visual examinations consisting of assessments of visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, visual field, and color perception. The involvement of each participant's visual cortex while performing a continuous matching task of visual icons on a computer screen was recorded. Results demonstrated that additional time required by visually impaired computer users is not a result of delayed engagement of the visual cortex, but rather due to time spent in active search once the visual cortex has already been engaged. Directions for future research are provided.
Visual Impairment: The Use of Visual Profiles in Evaluations of Icon Use in Computer-Based Tasks BIBA 151-164
  Julie A. Jacko; Robert H., Jr. Rosa; Ingrid U. Scott; Charles J. Pappas; Max A. Dixon
This research investigates an empirical link between characteristics of impaired vision and user performance on computer-based systems. The underlying premise of this research is twofold: specific aspects of visual dysfunction can be linked to the task performance demonstrated by computer users with impaired vision, and graphical user interfaces can be modified to evoke enhanced performance from low-vision users. Iconic selection time and accuracy within a graphical user interface were evaluated, comparing performance of low-vision users with performance of fully sighted users, and linking task performance to specific profiles of visual impairment. Results indicate that visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, visual field, and color perception were significant predictors of task performance. In addition, icon size, set size, and background color significantly influenced performance. This research confirmed the validity of both underlying premises and serves as a launching point for future research concerned with developing features that will assist users with a variety of visual deficits.

IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 2

Introduction: Empirical Studies of WWW Usability BIB 167-171
  Andrew Sears
Performance Benefits of Simultaneous Over Sequential Menus as Task Complexity Increases BIBA 173-192
  Harry Hochheiser; Ben Shneiderman
To date, experimental comparisons of menu layouts have concentrated on variants of hierarchical structures of sequentially presented menus. Simultaneous menus-layouts that present multiple active menus on a screen at the same time-are an alternative arrangement that may be useful in many Web design situations. This article describes an experiment involving a between-subject comparison of simultaneous menus and their traditional sequential counterparts. A total of 20 experienced Web users used either simultaneous or sequential menus in a standard Web browser to answer questions based on U.S. Census data. Our results suggest that appropriate use of simultaneous menus can lead to improved task performance speeds without harming subjective satisfaction measures. For novice users performing simple tasks, the simplicity of sequential menus appears to be helpful, but experienced users performing complex tasks may benefit from simultaneous menus. Design improvements can amplify the benefits of simultaneous menu layouts.
Contextual Navigation Aids for Two World Wide Web Systems BIBA 193-217
  Joonah Park; Jinwoo Kim
In spite of the radical enhancement of Web technologies, many users still continue to experience severe difficulties in navigating Web systems. One way to reduce the navigation difficulties is to provide context information that explains the current situation of Web users. In this study, we empirically examined the effects of 2 types of context information, structural and temporal context. In the experiment, we evaluated the effectiveness of the contextual navigation aids in 2 different types of Web systems, an electronic commerce system that has a well-defined structure and a content dissemination system that has an ill-defined structure. In our experiment, participants answered a set of postquestionnaires after performing several searching and browsing tasks. The results of the experiment reveal that the 2 types of contextual navigation aids significantly improved the performance of the given tasks regardless of different Web systems and different task types. Moreover, context information changed the users' navigation patterns and increased their subjective convenience of navigation. This study concludes with implications for understanding the users' searching and browsing patterns and for developing effective navigation systems.
Academic Articles on the Web: Reading Patterns and Formats BIBA 219-240
  Young J. Rho; T. D. Gedeon
This article explores user reading activities and user preferences in the formats of Web-based academic articles by using the data from 2 online surveys. Researchers use the Web as a resource for academic articles. Despite this popular use, no generally agreed format exists on the Web. The Web environments of distributed users encourage the use of online remote evaluation. We applied an e-mail-based survey and a Web-based survey to the evaluation of some concepts for Web-based academic articles. The participants of the surveys were researchers in information technology and related areas. Our survey results show that readers take an overview of a Web-based academic article from the screen, print it out, and then read the printed article. The results also show that the formats employed by most of the Web sites for academic articles are against readers' preferences. The simple 2-frame format among the 5 given formats was most preferred by 47% of our respondents, but the cascaded page-windows format was regarded as the worst by 65% because of its high visual complexity on the screen. An interesting result is that 26% of the respondents regarded the paperlike format as the worst, but this format is widely used for Web-based articles. In addition, the importance of interactive examples embedded in a Web-based questionnaire was revealed from the 2 consecutive surveys. Details are discussed in this article. In the online remote surveys, the issues of Web-based academic articles were successfully addressed. The methods used in the surveys would be useful for usability tests of various concepts of other Web genres at an early design or redesign stage.
International Aspects of World Wide Web Usability and the Role of High-End Graphical Enhancements BIBA 241-261
  Andrew Sears; Julie A. Jacko; Erica M. Dubach
Through 2 experiments, we examined both international differences and the effects of high-end graphical enhancements on the perceived usability of World Wide Web (WWW) sites. To accomplish this goal, we recruited Internet users from Switzerland and the United States to explore 1 of 2 versions of a Web site with the goal of retrieving specific information from the site. The first Web site was a self-contained subset of a large corporate Web site, and the second was a systematically simplified version of the first. After retrieving the required information from the site, participants responded to questions regarding their perception of the Web site's usability and its information presentation. Their responses provided detailed insights into significant differences between WWW users from 2 different cultures with respect to how they perceive the same Web sites. The importance of basic user demographics is documented, and empirical evidence is provided that devalues some high-end graphical enhancements.
Increasing the Usability of Online Information for Older Users: A Case Study in Participatory Design BIBA 263-276
  R. Darin Ellis; Sri H. Kurniawan
This article describes one of the first documented participatory design (PD) efforts specifically aimed at older users. The goal of the project was to make an existing World Wide Web (WWW) site more user-friendly for older users, specifically in terms of display format issues. A PD team was assembled from a group of community-dwelling older adults and developers from a university research lab. After the developers established the trust and confidence of the participants and developed a conceptual user model (based on a survey and previous literature), the PD team evaluated the original design. Prototypes were iteratively developed and tested by the PD team to improve problems found in the original design. Specific design improvements and general design guidelines for older WWW users are discussed.

IJHCI 2000 Volume 12 Issue 3/4

Editorial BIB 279
  Kay M. Stanney; Gavriel Salvendy
Introduction BIB 281-284
  Heidi Kroemker
Performance Model for Market-Oriented Design of Software Products BIBA 285-307
  Helmut Degen
The design of user interfaces in industrial enterprises is not an isolated task, but is inseparable from product definition and the design and functional aspects of the product concept. To be able to define and ultimately create market-oriented software products, it is necessary to utilize data from market research. This article presents a tool for analyzing such market research data, referred to as the performance model. The performance model enables market research data to be mapped into design-relevant performance categories to produce requirements profiles for various target groups. This is presented with reference to the social sciences institute (SINUS) milieu model, a lifestyle-based market segmentation model for the Federal Republic of Germany (hereinafter referred to as the SINUS milieu model), and is exemplified by the design styles preferred by the different milieus (Flaig, Meyer, & Ueltzhoffer, 1994). The most important findings are that (a) different target groups (here the SINUS milieus) make different demands on software products, (b) the application and economic performances are usually the most important to personal computer users, and (c) different milieus have very different expectations with respect to design styles. Some milieus prefer a cognitive-ergonomic design style, whereas others prefer an emotional-hedonistic design style. The derivation of the performance model, its application, and the empirical evidence demonstrated were described in detail in Degen's (1999) dissertation.
Problems and Benefits of Requirements Gathering With Focus Groups: A Case Study BIBA 309-325
  Klaus Kuhn
Focus group interviews are considered as a rather weak, nonquantitative method of assessing user needs, ideas, and reactions in an early stage of the interface design process (Nielsen, 1993). Given this fact, it is relevant to reflect the practical use of focus groups step by step to determine their real strengths and limitations. In this article, we share our experience of planning, running, and analyzing focus groups within the design process of a home automation system. We describe the pre- and postwork in detail so that the pros and cons of gathering requirements with focus groups become apparent.
Culture and Context: An Empirical Study for the Development of a Framework for the Elicitation of Cultural Influence in Product Usage BIBA 327-345
  Pia Honold
The globalization of the economy is leading to greater diversification among user groups. Product designers will therefore have to take account of the cultural differences between these user groups. This article first defines the construct of culture with regard to human-computer interaction and presents various possible cultural influences. It then considers how the concept of culture is defined in psychological theories on human-computer interaction. This information is then used as a basis for drawing up requirements to be met by methods for recording cultural influences. Qualitative methods seem to be particularly promising. Empirical work was carried out to identify factors that influence the use of products in foreign cultures. A total of 35 Indian households in Bombay and New Delhi were selected for a qualitative study in which a washing machine developed in Germany was used for a period of 3 weeks. From observations and interviews it was possible to identify 8 factors that need to be taken into consideration when defining requirements in different cultures.
How to Build Up an Infrastructure for Intercultural Usability Engineering BIBA 347-358
  Andreas Beu; Pia Honold; Xiaowei Yuan
Siemens is a global enterprise that sells its products in more than 190 countries throughout the world. This internationalization of products means more than just translating the operating instructions and making changes to formats. True adaptation goes much deeper and takes into account different requirements in terms of functionality. This article starts by defining the term culture and then considers the requirements that have to be met in the context of intercultural usability engineering. Taking the establishment of usability laboratories in Beijing, China and Princeton, New Jersey as examples, the article then presents the challenges facing international cooperation and possible solutions, taking a detailed look at differences in the infrastructure, at key qualifications in international cooperation, and at the development of appropriate test methods.
Innovative User Interfaces in Automation Engineering by Application of Usability Engineering Methods Shown by the Example of a Three-Dimensional Plant Representation BIBA 359-373
  Michael Burmester; Tobias Komischke; Lothar Wust
This article is the first of 3 that focus on user-centered design and usability in the field of industrial process control. This article starts with an introduction to this special domain and sets out the need for user-centered design of innovative user interfaces. The MediaPlant research project is then introduced. This project aims to generate innovative user interface solutions for process control. The usability engineering methods presented are well known in relation to office application software and were applied in the course of the project to (a) evaluate the potential and application fields of innovative multimedia technology and 3-dimensional information presentation (described at the end of this article), (b) define innovative user interface building blocks for process control that can be applied across sectors (described in the second article, Komischke & Burmester [this issue]) and (c) develop human-centered user interfaces for controlling paper recycling plants (described in the third article, Epstein & Beu [this issue]).
User-Centered Standardization of Industrial Process Control User Interfaces BIBA 375-386
  Tobias Komischke; Michael Burmester
This article shows how usability engineering methods-presented in Burmester, Komischke, and Wust (this issue)-were successfully applied to user-interface design in industrial process control. The goal of the research was to optimize the work of both designers (automation engineers) and end users (operators) of process control systems. Expert interviews and task analyses in different sectors were carried out. For the first time operator core sequences were identified in the field and across sectors. For these common activities, software building blocks were conceptually specified and a prototype was evaluated iteratively in the field using demonstrations, focused interviews, usability tests, and questionnaires.
Design of a Graphical User Interface for Process Control Based on the Example of a Paper Recycling Plant BIBA 387-400
  Andre Epstein; Andreas Beu
The following article is the third of 3 articles that focus on user-centered design and usability in the field of industrial process control. Whereas the first article in this series (Burmester, Komischke, & Wust, this issue) dealt with usability engineering methods in the area of process control, this article explains the practical application of this procedure. To this end, a pilot project for the user-centered design of a user interface for a paper recycling plant is described here by way of example. Here a new layout based on users' mental models was systematically prepared. Extensive usability tests revealed that the design was understood and accepted both by users without any knowledge of the system (pupils at a paper technology college) and those with a knowledge of the system.
Designing a Telephone-Based Interface for a Home Automation System BIBA 401-414
  Nina Sandweg; Marc Hassenzahl; Klaus Kuhn
User-interface design lacks expertise in designing nonvisual user interfaces. This is surprising as there are various domains where auditory interfaces have already been proved to be helpful, such as railway information services and reading support for blind persons. We present a case study concerning the design of a telephone-based interface (TBI). It was realized within the development process of an interaction concept for a modular home automation system. The design was based on requirements gathered in user focus groups and on general guidelines for the design of TBIs. The TBI's evaluation revealed some minor (i.e., easily solved) usability problems. Questionnaires showed a positive ergonomic quality as well as a positive overall appeal. Interestingly, the evaluation indicates a potential to improve hedonic quality (i.e., non-task-related quality aspects). It may be induced by the addition of nonspeech sounds, thereby enriching user experience.
Synergy and Subsidiarity: The Systematic Determination of Software, User, and Operating Instructions BIBA 415-430
  Claus Knapheide
The quality of a software product is determined by its usability; the quality of technical documentation is determined by its comprehensibility. Usability conceptualizes the person using a software product to perform a task; comprehensibility deals with the reader of operating instructions-although they are generally one and the same person. However, only rarely are the software and technical documentation part of an integrated design.
   This is all the more surprising in that, on the technical level, the boundary between software and user information is becoming increasingly blurred; one need only think of the hypertext links between software and help systems, or of electronic versions of operating instructions.
   We make the case for considering user, software, and operating instructions as a single system oriented toward performing a task; the operating instructions therefore are regarded as a subsidiary subsystem of a structure to be described. This is done from a linguistic perspective, with reference to the central category of knowledge available to the user or contained in the software and in the operating instructions and that we approach via an empirical analysis of authentic material (operating instructions as primary data, statements of end users concerning operating instructions).
   Taking the example of creating software and operating instructions for a computer tomograph, we show how the relevant knowledge elements contribute to the accomplishment of an operating task and discuss the resultant requirements concerning the contents of software and operating instructions, particularly for handling fault and problem situations.
Interactive Design Using the Example of a Complex Medical Application BIBA 431-440
  Axel Platz; Claus Knapheide
Applications in the field of capital goods make specific requirements in terms of efficiency, fault tolerance, and verifiability-and therefore of the overall quality of use. Visual design-regarded as something derived logically from the functional stipulations and not just as an accessory to be applied later-contributes to this. The link between functional requirement and formal design will be illustrated by using Syngo, which is a software platform for controlling the image-transmitting procedure in radiology. In the context of the annual competition "Industrieforum Design Hannover" (Industrial Design Forum Hanover), Syngo was awarded the special "Best of Category" prize at the "Interaction Design Award 2000" (see Color Plate 11, Figures 1 and 2).
Capturing Design Space From a User Perspective: The Repertory Grid Technique Revisited BIBA 441-459
  Marc Hassenzahl; Rainer Wessler
The design of an artifact (e.g., software system, household appliance) requires a multitude of decisions. In the course of narrowing down the design process, "good ideas" have to be divided from "bad ideas." To accomplish this, user perceptions and evaluations are of great value. The individual way people perceive and evaluate a set of prototypes designed in parallel may shed light on their general needs and concerns. The Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) is a method of elucidating the so-called personal constructs (e.g., friendly-hostile, bad-good, playful-expert-like) people employ when confronted with other individuals, events, or artifacts. We assume that the personal constructs (and the underlying topics) generated as a reaction to a set of artifacts mark the artifacts' design space from a user's perspective and that this information may be helpful in separating valuable ideas from the not so valuable. This article explores the practical value of the RGT in gathering design-relevant information about the design space of early artifact prototypes designed in parallel. Ways of treating the information gathered, its quality and general advantages, and limitations of the RGT are presented and discussed. In general, the RGT proved to be a valuable tool in exploring a set of artifact's design space from a user's perspective.