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Lab 2.2 Exercises

2.2.1. Understand the Place of HCI and Its Effect on Computer Use and Development

a) We have already talked about the two primary aspects of HCI (the human and the computer). What are the other two important areas and what roles do they play?

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A1:

Answer: Use and context of computing systems and software development are the other two important aspects. Although it may seem an almost trivial point, knowing where software will be implemented (the context) is an important aspect of the interface. However, sometimes the details of that context are not fully understood. For example, imagine a software product designed to manage operations within a law firm. It can handle cases, references, court schedules, and even billing. What if the interface does not allow you to bill in anything less than full hours? It is common (if not the rule) that lawyers bill customers in quarter-hour increments. The interface might be efficiently designed and easy to use, but the design does not consider the context.

Although much computer software does not require human interaction (operating system functions, automation, and so forth), the development process must take the issue of HCI into consideration. Therefore, there are a great many development tools on the market that are either specifically intended to develop the user interface or have modules that ease its development.

2.2.2. Identify Productivity Improvements

a) How can we show the benefits of good HCI?

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A1:

Answer: By calculating tangible savings in case studies.

One important aspect to remember is that not all of the benefits are “tangible.” Because different environments affect people differently, one group of people might work better with one software product than another group would or with another product. Neither product is intrinsically better than the other, just as neither group is intrinsically more adept at using the software. It is simply a matter of personal preference. This might be as mundane as having the toolbar on the side as compared to the top or bottom.

It is basically the rule today that the software be configurable. The software developers have realized that customers want this configurability and have included it. For them, there is the tangible benefit of more sales. However, the purchasers of the software (or, maybe their accounting departments) may not be able to identify any tangible benefits.


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