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Behaviour and Information Technology 9

Editors:Tom Stewart
Dates:1990
Volume:9
Publisher:Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Standard No:ISSN 0144-929X
Papers:43
Links:Table of Contents
  1. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 1
  2. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 2
  3. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 3
  4. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 4
  5. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 5
  6. BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 6

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 1

Editorial BIB 1-2
  Tom Stewart

Individual Differences in User Behaviour

Job Design Predictors of Stress in Automated Offices BIBA 3-16
  Pascale A. Sainfort
The effects of job control, job content, demands and career/future concerns on stress outcomes were tested in a population of video display terminal (VDT) users that were categorized as clericals, managers/supervisors and professionals. It was found that career/future concerns were consistent contributors to stress outcomes across job categories, but job control -- which was hypothesized as a central stressor -- did not contribute to the stress outcomes. Analyses performed within each of the three job categories demonstrated that different job elements contributed to the stress outcomes. A proposed model that defined job control as the central job element through which other job features (i.e. job content, demands and career/future concerns) produced stress outcomes was verified in only one of the four analyses for mood disturbances among professional VDT users.
Some Effects of Menu Characteristics and User Personality on Performance with Menu-Driven Interfaces BIBA 17-29
  Rudy Van Hoe; Karel Poupeye; Andre Vandierendonck; Geert De Soete
User performance with menu-based systems was studied. Three experiments concerning the effects of menu structure, menu breadth, menu system depth, several support facilitates and user personality characteristics on user performance, measured in terms of search time and accuracy, are reported. The main findings are that performance is affected by menu structure, the depth of the menu system, the presence of escape facilities, the structure of the alternatives within the menu, some methods of informative support and certain personality characteristics. Some expensive support facilities are found to have no effect. The results are discussed in relation to problems of menu interface design.
Perceived Costs and Benefits as Determinants of User Behaviour: An Experiment with Matchmaking BIBA 31-45
  Dov Te'eni
A cost-benefit approach is employed to model the discretionary use of a computerized information system. The model is constructed by integrating a systemic view of human-computer interaction with a contingency model for selecting decision strategies. It is then used to analyse the effect of presentation format on search behaviour.
   An experiment on matchmaking was performed using two formats: sequential and parallel. Subjects were asked to find the best spouse for a candidate using an information retrieval system that displayed information about the individuals according to the subject's specific requests. The subject's search behaviour and perception of complexity were recorded. A first analysis of the protocols revealed different behaviours, as predicted by the cost-benefit mechanism. A second analysis incorporated a measure of individual differences in perception to gain a better understanding of the effects of display format on perceived complexity and, thereby, on behaviour. The findings support the use of the cost-benefit model. The design implications of the model are also discussed.

Public Access Computing: Videotex Shopping

Using Videotex for Shopping -- A Qualitative Analysis BIBA 47-61
  Paul Buckley; John Long
Public access computer systems, e.g. videotex, enable the development of value added services such as teleshopping and telebanking. Potential users may not have any significant experience of computers, or indeed any interest in learning how to operate them. The computers, therefore, need to be simple to use. This paper attempts to identify features of the teleshopping task which contribute to problems of usability. This identification is a pre-requisite for subsequent experimental evaluation and system optimization. First, transactions are described in terms of a general model of the task. The videotex form of a particular transaction -- shopping -- is then examined and expectations of sources of difficulty are derived. The data from an observational study are used to identify sources of difficulty and to establish a set of operationalizable system variables contributing to user difficulties and errors. A model of the user is then described with accounts for such problems of usability in terms of mismatch between knowledge used by the expert ideal user and the knowledge used in real transactions. The errors and the statements of difficulty from the observational study are used again to establish the knowledge sources which mismatched with the ideal user knowledge. Relationships between the system variables and these knowledge variables are identified. The operationalizability of the variables allows subsequent experimentation to quantify their effects, and to confirm the grouping and relationship of system characteristics with the incorrect or inadequate knowledge sources. The findings are intended to contribute to improving videotex transaction systems. The aims and the success of the approach are discussed, along with the role of the models as conceptual organizers.
Ordering Goods with Videotex: Or Just Fill in the Details BIBA 63-80
  P. Susan Fenn; Paul K. Buckley
Home-based transactional services such as teleshopping have become available using videotex technology. In this form of shopping, users may acquire details of goods, evaluate items available and place orders by using a home terminal or an adapted television set. Two experiments examined different sorts of demand that the videotex ordering task might impose on users. The first experiment assessed the usability of four types of 'response frame' for practised users. Fastest performance times were associated with 'tailored' and 'menu' frames when ordering single items, and with 'tailored' and 'generalized' frames when ordering several items. The novel task structure associated with the 'generalized' response frame is different from normal shopping and therefore might be a source of difficulty for the novice user. A second experiment manipulated possible methods of increasing compatibility. Subjects given videotex-compatible experience were faster in ordering goods than subjects who only had 'shop' shopping experience were. Conclusions are expressed as suggestions for videotex dialogue designers.

A Field Study of User Errors

Naive Users and the Lotus Interface: A Field Study BIBA 81-89
  J. R. Doyle
Persistent errors that naive users make when using the spreadsheet Lotus-123 have been collected and classified according to their assumed origin. It is argued that conventions used in Lotus can be inconsistent with usage elsewhere in Lotus; inconsistent with usage in the broader world of computing; or inconsistent with real-world usage outside computing. The last two sources of error, while usually neglected in system design, actually account for the majority of errors made. Although most of these errors are situation specific and hard to foresee, once noted their eradication would be relatively easy, often not requiring any change to Lotus's structure but only to surface features of the package.

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 2

Editorial BIB 91-92
  Tom Stewart

Information Retrieval and Databases

COMODA: A Conversation Model for Database Access BIBA 93-110
  Thomas E. Whalen; Andrew S. Patrick
As electronic database technology becomes less expensive, people will want to access information without undergoing special training. These people could use their native language if databases could be accessed through natural language conversations. The approach of the current research is that in order for the computer to be controlled by natural language, the computer does not have to understand it, only respond correctly. The conversation model for database access (COMODA) describes information retrieval as a dialogue. The dialogue is modelled by a series of states, where each state has an utterance that provide some information. The states are linked by transitions that are followed if a parse template matches the input sentence. Provisions are made for backtracking to earlier states, and for changes in topic. A small database of general information about one division of the Federal Government was implemented on an IBM-PC using these principles. When ten untrained people were allowed to converse with this database, 59% of their queries were answered correctly. All but one person said that they would use this type of database if more information was available. It was concluded that it is feasible to create a database of general information which can be accessed with natural language conversations by untrained users.
A Comparison of Words and Icons as External Memory Aids in an Information Retrieval Task BIBA 111-131
  M. W. Lansdale; M. Simpson; T. R. M. Stroud
Enrichment is a process whereby computer-based information is tagged with additional attributes which can be used in an information retrieval system to increase the speed and accuracy of access. In this way, the additional attributes act as external memory aids. Lansdale (1988a) evaluated such a system by looking at the memorability of coloured shapes, placed in different locations on a document, which were used as enrichers in a simple information retrieval task. This paper extends that study to look at memory for labels used in an identical way. Verbal and visual enriching attributes were studied under two conditions: one in which they were assigned to documents automatically by the system, and one in which the users made their own choice. Results indicate a strong trend in which recall was higher when subjects made their own selection of enriching attributes as opposed to having them selected for them. In the comparison of words and icons, there was no evidence that the modalities of the enrichers were a significant factor in recall. Recall performance seems to be primarily related to the 'semantic fit' of the documents and the attributes selected to enrich them. The extent to which this implies potential differences in the utility of visual and verbal methods in future applications is discussed.

Tools and Techniques in HCI

Context and Selective Retreat in Hierarchical Menu Structures BIBA 133-146
  G. E. Field; M. D. Apperley
This paper describes an experiment to compare the use of two different forms of menu dialogue to solve a relatively complex problem. The problem involves multiple queries from a videotex database accessed by a potentially deep hierarchical set of menus. The dialogue forms compared are a standard videotex menu system and an enhanced menu system. The latter provides both additional contextual information and a means of selective, rather than incremental, retreat. Although no significant time advantage was measured, the results do demonstrate a significant improvement in navigation for the enhanced menu system and show the value of using realistic problems for this type of evaluation.
Action-Effect Rules: A Technique for Evaluating an Informal Specification Against Principles BIBA 147-155
  Andrew Monk
The technique described here involves generating a user-centred specification of the system in terms of 'action-effect rules'. This specification is then examined for violations of principles. In this paper we consider hard to reverse effects and ambiguous displays. Additional principles which might be used are also discussed. The technique is demonstrated with an example which also shows how it can be incorporated, with user testing, into an iterative design methodology. Action-effect rules are easier to generate than many of the alternative schemes. They can be extracted from the functional specification a designer will have to produce anyway. Specifying the user interface of a system with action-effect rules encourages the designer to think about the problems of the user from the earliest stages of design.

Case Study

Scanning in the Supermarket: For Better or Worse? A Case Study in Introducing Electronic Point of Sale BIBA 157-169
  Kirstie Cutler; Christopher Rowe
EPOS systems are being hailed by supermarket executives as 'a great technological breakthrough' for companies, customers and store employees alike, but the article (based on a 12-month study of a supermarket branch undergoing an EPOS installation) suggests that while each may gain in certain respects, the benefits from scanning overwhelmingly accrue to the company, and that in some instances these may actually be to the disadvantage of other parties. Through a discussion of checkout operations, staffing, deskilling, and price changes, the article argues there are few gains for the customer and employee; while outcomes such as system breakdowns or inaccurate stocktakes are to everyone's disadvantage. As EPOS applications move on to EFTPOS and Teleshopping, the likelihood is that these factors, which often involve behavioural considerations, will again receive insufficient attention compared to the technology itself.

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 3

Editorial BIB 173-174
  Tom Stewart

Comprehension in Human-Computer Interaction

The Role of Instruction and Verbalization in Improving Performance on Complex Search Tasks BIBA 175-190
  Dianne C. Berry; Donald E. Broadbent
This paper examines methods of improving human search performance on a diagnostic task where it does not help to provide computer suggestions about the next enquiry to make. In three experiments it was found (a) that verbal instruction in optimal procedures was ineffective in changing actual performance, although it changed answers to verbal tests of knowledge; (b) that requiring people to say aloud the reasons for each action was ineffective in changing either performance or verbal tests of knowledge; but if people were given both verbal instructions and the requirements to justify each action aloud, performance was improved; (c) this successful training method changed performance not merely on the specific task that was trained, but also on a superficially different search task in which the same general procedures were optimal. These findings suggest that human decision processes change if key information is temporarily activated at the time it is needed, but not if it is merely learned at an irrelevant time. Such a process also explains the beneficial effect of interfaces that provide explanation or the results of inference at key points in the task.
Knowledge Representation in Human Problem Solving: Implications for Expert System Design BIBA 191-200
  David C. Gibson; Gavriel Salvendy
The study focuses on the identification of the underlying representational properties of human problem solving and their application to expert systems. In this study the interaction between problem representation (procedural, conceptual, unstructured) and problem type (transformation, arrangement, inducing structure) was observed. The results of this study indicate partly that quantitative and qualitative differences in problem-solving performance can be attributed to the form of knowledge representation employed by the problem solver. It is suggested that modularized expert systems could be designed with different problem-solving modules organized by problem characteristics or type, exploiting the representational differences identified in this study.
Plans, Goals and Selection Rules in the Comprehension of Computer Programs BIBA 201-214
  Simon P. Davies
The notion of the programming plan has been proposed as a mechanism through which one can explain the nature of expertise in programming. Soloway and Ehrlich (1984) suggest that such expertise is characterized by the existence and use of programming plans. However, studies in other complex problem-solving domains, notably text editing, suggest that expertise is characterized not only by the possession of plan-related structures but also by the development of appropriate selection rules which govern the implementation of plans in appropriate situations (Card et al. 1980, Kay and Black 1984, 1986). This paper presents an experimental study which examines the role of programming plans in the context of skill development in programming. The results of this study suggest that plan-based structures cannot be used in isolation to explain novice/expert differences. Indeed, such structures appear to prevail at intermediate levels of skill. The major characteristic of expertise in programming would appear to be strongly related to the development of appropriate selection rules and to so-called program discourse rules. This in turn suggests that current views on the role of plan-based structures in expert programming performance are too limited in their conception to provide an adequate basis for a thorough analysis of the problem-solving activity in the programming domain.
The Effects of Display Size and Text Splitting on Reading Lengthy Text from Screen BIBA 215-227
  Andrew Dillon; John Richardson; Cliff McKnight
The present paper reports on an experimental investigation of reader performance and preferences with a screen-presented journal article. The effects of display size (20 lines and 60 lines) and sentence splitting on readers' manipulation, comprehension and subjective impressions are assessed. The results indicated that neither variable significantly affects comprehension but adjusted manipulation levels are significantly higher in the small window condition. Splitting sentences across screens also caused readers to return to the previous page to reread text significantly more. Subjective data reveal a preference for larger screens and high awareness of text format. Implications for future work are discussed.

Computing and Society -- Public Attitudes

Computer Anxiety and Attitudes Towards Microcomputer Use BIBA 229-241
  Magid Igbaria; Alok Chakrabarti
Survey data gathered from 187 participants were used to examine the relationship between demographic variables, computer training and experience, management support and system quality and computer anxiety, and attitudes towards microcomputers. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that the quality of the computer-based information system which represents the interface and the interaction between the participants and the system has a strong positive effect on attitudes toward microcomputers, and a significant reduction on computer anxiety. Computer training contributes strongly to decrease in computer anxiety and has an indirect effect on attitudes towards microcomputers. However, computer experience and management support were found to affect the attitudes towards microcomputers directly. Among the demographic variables, gender was the only one which correlated highly with computer anxiety. Implications for the design of information and decision support systems and future research are discussed.

Case Study in Usability

Usability of Product X -- Lessons from a Real Product BIBA 243-253
  Chris Marshall; Brendan McManus; Amanda Prail
Using the example of a real product, this paper shows how various usability assessments, conducted by different human factors engineers, in several phases of the product's development life-cycle, identified similar potential usability problems. Circumstances dictated that no remedial action was taken, so it was possible to track these potential usability defects to customer sites, where it was found that most of the important problems did indeed occur. Thus, it can be demonstrated that human factors advice was valid and reliable. In simpler terms, early usability evaluation by human factors engineers can save hours of wasted development effort and customer frustration, and can help to ensure that a more usable product is produced.

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 4

Editorial BIB 255-256
  Tom Stewart

Impact of IT at the Individual Level

Individual Adjustment during Technological Innovation: A Research Framework BIBA 257-271
  Debra L. Nelson; Marilyn G. Kletke
Technological innovation is the focus of this paper, which integrates the literature on the individual-level experience of the computing technology transitions from a wide variety of disciplines. From this review, preventive interventions are developed to ease the stressful aspects of technological change for the individual and facilitate positive adjustment for the organization. Finally, cooperative efforts between researchers and practitioners are called for, and a more holistic framework with suggestions regarding the content and process of such joint ventures is proposed.
Ergonomic Predictors of Visual System Complaints in VDT Data Entry Work BIBA 273-282
  Lawrence M. Schleifer; Steven L. Sauter; Randall J. Smith; Sheri Knutson
The relationship between ergonomic demands and visual system complaints was investigated among video-display-terminal (VDT) operators at two state agencies. Ergonomics factors suspected of posing visual demands were objectively assessed at 40 data-entry workstations. A questionnaire survey was also administered to gather information on somatic discomfort, demographic and personal characteristics, and extent of VDT use for operators at these workstations, and for several hundred additional operators in the two agencies. Regression analyses indicated that personal factors such as age and use of corrective eyewear accounted for relatively little of the variance in measures of visual system complaints. However, regression models that incorporated viewing distance and illumination measures accounted for 38%-49% of the variance in these measures. The present investigation is one of the few attempts to assess objectively an array of physical workplace factors and to examine, within a multivariate framework, their influence on visual system complaints.
Visible Planning on Paper and on Screen: The Impact of Working Medium on Decision-Making by Novice Graphic Designers BIBA 283-296
  Alison Black
The paper describes the working method typically used by graphic designers when they plan documents. It considers how the interfaces of current desktop publishing systems often limit designers' working method; interfaces often fail to support the preparation and management of multiple drafts in a way that gives designers the visible feedback they need. Two questionnaire studies of novice designers planning documents on paper and on screen confirm that interface constraints can lead to less satisfactory design solutions on screen than on paper. User education and software developments are recommended in order to promote an interaction between machine and user that is congenial to visible planning.
Expert Support Systems: An Intermediate Reality for Management BIBA 297-305
  Thow-Yick Liang
The application of expert systems (ES) in several technical areas has proven to be rather successful. However, the utilization of ES in strategic management areas has encountered some difficulties. This new endeavour deals with managerial decision making for multi-disciplinary problems involving many behavioural variables. A pragmatic solution is to utilize expert support systems (ESS) as an intermediate measure. The intention is to use ESS as supporting tools rather than using them to replace human beings. This is a situation in which machines complement human beings in decision making. The ESS will provide some knowledge and reasoning procedures while the decision-maker will supplement it with the overall problem-solving direction. This co-operation between man and machine will better accommodate the deficiencies in understanding human behavioural variables by ES. This study analyses the two-pronged development of ES and the advantages of using ESS during the interim period to overcome the uncertainties of human behaviour.

Impact of IT at the Organizational Level

A Comparison of Computer Conferences with Face-to-Face Meetings for Small Group Business Decisions BIBA 307-317
  Norman P. Archer
This study reports on the evaluation of four meeting techniques for decision-making by small groups. Two face-to-face and two conferencing techniques were evaluated by small groups solving business cases. Particular groups varied widely in their satisfaction with different meeting techniques, but there was no significant difference in the quality of the group decisions.
The Measurement of Information Technology Absorption into Information Handling Processes in Business BIBA 319-335
  John A. Sparrow
The need for a comparative measure of information technology absorption in business is discussed. Studies of various forms of technological change are reviewed in terms of three issues; the level of measurement used, the research techniques/methods used and the approaches to the measurement of technology absorption. The requisite properties for an assessment of information technology absorption within business are outlined. A framework for a structured interview schedule is proposed which could assess approaches to information handling at several levels of analysis (e.g. departments, sites, organizations, industries). A pilot factor analysis of the IT items within the schedule across a sample of businesses reveals a sensible three-factor structure of IT influence within information handling. This form of measure is shown to offer sufficient sensitivity to assess technological changes within organizations and be relatable to behavioural outcomes. The extent of changes in management roles is shown to be correlated with degree of IT change along the three dimensions identified. The needs for further research are discussed.

Impact of IT at the Market Level

Information Technology and Securities Market BIBA 337-349
  Yash P. Gupta; Glen McCoy
This paper examines the use of information technology (IT) in the financial securities market. These markets have seen a proliferation of IT applications in the past decade, and as a result the very structure and nature of competition in the industry has changed. Various regulatory agencies are attempting to keep up with this progression and ensure fair and efficient markets. One of the directives of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was for a National Market System (NMS) to overcome the problems of fragmentation. Although a true NMS does not exist, huge gains have been made towards it, however, it is unlikely to become the dominant system. An outgrowth of IT use and the NMS directive has been a movement towards fully automated exchanges. These efforts have not met with much success as the existing automated exchanges are mainly small and experimental. A second outgrowth of the NMS is program trading. Pure in its intention, this application has since grown beyond control and was found to be responsible for much of the large decline in stock prices in the October 1987 market crash. Limits on the use of program trades are appearing daily, and their future seems limited at best.

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 5

Editorial BIB 351-352
  Tom Stewart

Empirical Studies of Computer Users

Correlates of Computer Misuse: Data from a Self-Reporting Sample BIBA 353-369
  Vincent F. Sacco; Elia Zureik
Most of what is currently known about the causes and social distribution of computer crime is derived from the records of law enforcement agencies or from surveys of organizations that are victims of such crimes. Through the use of an alternative data collection strategy, the self-report survey, the present study investigates computer misuse in a sample of Canadian undergraduate university students. The methodology allows an examination of some of the social and perceptual factors that previous research suggests might be related to computer offending. The study reveals that scores on a measure of computer misuse are not strongly correlated with respondents' social characteristics. However, the data also indicate that respondents' beliefs about the ethics and prevalence of misuse affect their own levels of involvement in such activity. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the implications that these findings might have for the study and for the prevention of computer crime.
Instructions and Demonstration as Media for Training New Users of Automatic Speech Recognition Devices BIBA 371-379
  C. Baber; R. B. Stammers; D. M. Usher
Although automatic speech recognition (ASR) can provide a medium of controlling computers which is relatively easy to use, novice users often have problems with it during their initial practices. In this study, two methods for training subjects to use ASR are compared. One group of subjects received a short demonstration given by an experienced ASR user and the other group received verbal instructions on how to use the device. The results show that subjects given a demonstration achieved better performance than those given instructions (p<0.005). This is explained by virtue of the fact that the successful use of ASR requires procedural knowledge which is better acquired through some form of practice than through instruction. It is concluded that a demonstration provides 'practice by proxy'. 'Task like' forms of enrollment are discussed. It is suggested that although they can provide the possibility of practice, they are not applicable to all types of ASR use. A demonstration provides users with task familiarization, and an appropriate style of speech.
Human Perception of Robot Safe Speed and Idle Time BIBA 381-389
  Mansour Rahimi; Waldemar Karwowski
Operators and users of robotic systems perform tasks which require close proximity to dangerous moving parts. Two experiments were performed to assess human perception of safe robot arm speed and idling times. Experiment 1 was designed to determine the maximum safe speed of robots. Subjects were asked to adjust the robot speeds. Perceived safe speeds were indicated for two different types of robots. Experiment 2 was designed to determine safe programmed idle time of robots. Subjects were asked to enter the robot work envelope when a programmed idle was perceived to be caused by a malfunction. Safe idle times were reported for two different robot speeds during operational cycles.
Relationship between the Amount and Equivocality of Information Processed and Receptivity to Change in Information Systems BIBA 391-395
  Gary J. Mann
Although a great deal has been written regarding various aspects of change in different contexts, the concept of relating the information requirements for task performance to individual receptiveness to change in the system that processes and provides the task-related information has not been addressed. This paper reports the results of a field study into these relationships. Individuals perceiving themselves as being required to process information with relatively greater equivocality were found to have more positive intentions regarding behaviours supportive of new computerized information systems. Also, a positive relationship was found between the amount of information processed and behavioural intentions regarding the system change.

Information Technology and Disability

Developments in IT Training for People with Disabilities BIBA 397-407
  Gerald Midgley
This paper looks at three models of IT training for people with disabilities. These have been called the workshop, educational and systemic vocational rehabilitation models. A number of evaluations of facilities are reviewed, and good practice in each model is identified. The paper then goes on to discuss ways in which these aspects of good practice can be combined into a more comprehensive approach that caters for both IT training and work adjustment needs, is orientated towards real work, does not exclude provision of a service to those in greatest need, and offers help when people move from training into employment. The paper ends with a call for people from different backgrounds to continue to learn from each other, and argues that there is an urgent need for further research and development.
Vocational Training in the Use of New Technologies for People with Disabilities BIBA 409-424
  Gerald Midgley; Michael Floyd
Following a brief review of the literature, details are given of an in-depth evaluation of a computer training centre called Microjob. This facility set out to integrate computer training, vocational guidance, functional assessment, placement in employment and post-placement support into a single service delivery package. In this paper the facility's outcome record is examined in relation to targets set for it, consideration is given to the special needs of home-based trainees, and specific difficulties faced by the project (including an inefficient management structure, inadequate staff training and a poor level of awareness of clients' special needs) are discussed.

Tutorial Review

Applying Visual Psychophysics to User Interface Design BIBA 425-438
  David S. Travis
Electronic displays are ubiquitous as the interface between people and computers. By far the most important perceptual sense used to interpret and analyse information provided by such displays is vision. This area has a vast and distinguished history, stretching back through names as eminent as Da Vinci, Descartes, Newton, Helmholtz and Young; this makes a thorough review of the area impossible in the space available here. Instead this review is limited to those areas of perception relevant to users of electronic displays. The purpose of this paper is to make designers of user interfaces aware of certain issues in visual perception and to provide a discussion of what psychophysics has to offer interface design.

BIT 1990 Volume 9 Issue 6

Editorial BIB 439-440
  Tom Stewart

The Visual Presentation of Information

Miniatures versus Icons as a Visual Cache for Videotex Browsing BIBA 441-449
  Jakob Nielsen
Miniatures are an alternative to icons for the representation of a large graphical object such as a window in a reduced format. A front end user interface to an existing videotex system was implemented using icons as well as miniatures to represent previously seen frames in a visual cache, and an empirical comparison showed that users had the same performance with the two representations but subjectively preferred icons.
Navigational Techniques to Improve the Display of Large Two-Dimensional Spaces BIBA 451-466
  David V. Beard; John Q., II Walker
Often the components of a problem can be arrayed on a two-dimensional information space -- for example, as an abstract tree or hypertext -- far too large to fit onto a computer display. With current navigational techniques it is often difficult for users to keep track of their location or to move rapidly to remote locations in the space. We implemented two similar direct-manipulation techniques, both of which use a map window -- a miniature of the entire information space -- with a wire-frame box to aid users in remembering their location. The first techniques allows the user to rapidly roam over the information space by moving the location of the wire-frame box. The second allows for zooming as well as roaming. A controlled experiment compared the above techniques to scroll bars for determining whether a target word was in a large balanced binary tree of words. The experiment also examined the merit of the map window. Map windows significantly improved user performance, and the roam and zoom techniques were found to be significantly faster than the scroll bars. Our observation of subjects and their verbal protocol indicated that a paging feature on the scroll bars -- allowing rapid movement of the screen a page in any direction -- was advantageous.
Reading Computer-Displayed Moving Text With and Without Self-Control Over the Display Rate BIBA 467-477
  Hsuan-Chih Chen; Kin-Tong Chan
In the present study, text was horizontally advanced in jumps of five character spaces at a time along a single line of 20 character spaces on a computer display. Forty-eight subjects read the test thus presented over four consecutive days, and the text display rate was under either subject or experimenter control. In general, the results showed that the subjects' reading performance increased over the time of the study, indicating that effects of practice existed in reading computer-displayed moving text. On the last day, when the display rate was held constant, giving subjects control resulted in worse comprehension performance than when such control was not given. Implications of these results for reading computer-displayed moving text are discussed.

The Design of Human-Computer Systems

Specifying Human-Computer Interface Requirements BIBA 479-492
  Alphonse Chapanis; William J. Budurka
Human factors principles are often not incorporated into the design of human-computer interfaces for a number of reasons, among them: Human factors is not part of main stream engineering, human factors has no binding way to influence development, and present guidelines and standards are too general. This article describes the rationale and technical features of a specification that provides a solution to these and other difficulties. The specification documents the results of translating standards and guidelines into project-specific requirements. Designs that meet requirements should be 'easy to use' and can be produced by designers without any human factors expertise. It puts human factors directly in the main stream of development and makes human factors more directly responsible and accountable for the usability of systems.
Coherence- and Correspondence-Driven Work Domains: Implications for Systems Design BIBA 493-502
  Kim J. Vicente
A distinction is made between coherence- and correspondence-driven work domains. This novel domain taxonomy is used to argue that the widely accepted goal of making the interface representation compatible with the user's mental model is not always appropriate. For correspondence-driven domains, it is more meaningful to constrain design from the side of the work domain rather than from that of the user. The implications of the coherence/correspondence distinction for the modelling of work domains, for interface design in computer supported co-operative work, and for the development of a multidimensional taxonomy of work domains are also briefly pointed out. The discussion suggests that the correspondence/coherence taxonomy provides a powerful conceptual tool for addressing fundamental issues in human-computer interaction.
Communication Action and Decision Support System Development: An Integrative Approach BIBA 503-516
  Marius A. Janson; L. Douglas Smith; Ronald Dattero
It is generally accepted that adaptive design methods and flexible constructs facilitate the design and implementation of decision support systems. Flexible constructs in the form of decision support system generators have been proposed for the timely construction of specific decision support systems. Effective communication, however, underlies the success of applying adaptive design methods and creating and modifying decision support system generators. Accordingly, we propose to investigate communication as a mode of action that allows the participants to structure and to exert control over the design environment. A descriptive model is presented that describes how different modes of communicative action are used to enhance the prospects of success when building decision support systems.