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Interacting with Computers 12

Editors:Dan Diaper; Dianne Murray
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1999 Volume 12 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1999 Volume 12 Issue 2
  3. IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 3
  4. IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 4
  5. IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 5
  6. IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 6

IWC 1999 Volume 12 Issue 1

Designing Multimedia for Human Needs and Capabilities BIBAK 1-5
  Herre van Oostendorp; Jenny Preece; Albert G. Arnold
The central tenet of HCI is to ensure that software and hardware design supports users doing their tasks. Most of the papers in this Special Issue go one step beyond designing for usability -- they also address design issues related to supporting human values. As computer usage becomes more diverse both in terms of the range of users and types of applications, human values such as democracy will become increasingly important and controversial, especially, as the number of people coming onto the Internet increases. For example, the issue of computer haves and have nots is well known, but governments are only just starting to think through its implications in terms of future policy. In addition, understanding users' affective responses to systems and how emotions are conveyed across networks is starting to gain designers' attention. Brenda Laurel's company, Purple Moon, is a clear example of the perceived need of designing to support users' emotional needs, in this case, teenage girls.
Keywords: Human values; Usability; Multimedia
The Influence of Structure and Reading-Manipulation on Usability of Hypertexts BIBAK 7-21
  Christof van Nimwegen; Miriam Pouw; Herre van Oostendorp
This study investigates the influence of structure and reading-manipulation, and more importantly, the interaction between these two variables on usability of hypertexts. Four types of hypertexts are distinguished, differing in structure (hierarchical, or hierarchical with partial linearity) and reading-manipulation (scrolling or paging). A fifth extra hypertext containing a hierarchical structure with partial linearity and both paging and scrolling was also investigated. The information itself, a city guide about Utrecht with cultural and tourist information, was exactly the same in all hypertexts. Three aspects of usability were examined: efficiency, ease of learning and user-satisfaction. These aspects are measured by performance on 24 search tasks and a task reflecting insight into the structure of the hypertext. Also, questions about the structure of the hypertext and satisfaction with the system had to be answered. The results indicated that structure and reading-manipulation did not interact. There were, however, significant main effects of structure and reading-manipulation. A purely hierarchical structure was frequently more usable than a hierarchical structure with partial linearity, and scrolling appeared to be more useful than paging. The fifth alternative hypertext seemed slightly more usable than the hypertexts with linearity, but less usable than purely hierarchical hypertexts. The findings combined suggest that a purely hierarchical hypertext with scrolling is most useful, probably because this structure and kind of reading-manipulation both provide a clear insight into the structure of the hypertext. We assume this insight to be necessary for adequate performance.
Keywords: Hypertext; Usability; Reading manipulation; Structure
The Validity of Rational Criteria for the Interpretation of User-Hypertext Interaction BIBAK 23-36
  A. Tricot; E. Puigserver; M. Diallo
This study is about how to interpret users interactions with multimedia systems, in particular their interaction with hypertext. It is generally admitted that our knowledge of how to interpret users search paths in information systems is very limited. Further, there are also controversies about the validity of the import of rational criteria, such as recall, precision and economy, from the domain of information retrieval to the interpretation of users behaviour. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relevance of these criteria to human behaviour. The results of two experiments show the rational criteria such as precision and economy seem to be irrelevant criteria for the interpretation of users search paths in terms of recall, except when the user's task is simple to achieve and constrained (i.e. a task where subjects have to find precisely a small number of relevant information units in a simple system). In the latter case precision and economy are positively correlated with recall. For less simple and unconstrained tasks, the performance of subjects seems to be much more influenced by strategic considerations. Further, it was shown that task constraints lead to more precise performance. Apparently subjects spend more effort under these circumstances to search precisely than in conditions without pressure.
Keywords: Information retrieval; Hypertext; Interaction design; On-line interaction
Multimedia Systems in Distance Education: Effects of Usability on Learning BIBAK 37-49
  Oronzo Parlangeli; Enrica Marchigiani; Sebastiano Bagnara
Multimedia systems are more and more used in distance learning. Since these systems are often structured as a hypertext, they pose additional problems to the user due to the complexity of navigable paths. In these cases the user has to learn both the structure of the hypertext and the provided contents. Three studies have been conducted to test the hypothesis that the level of usability of a system can affect the learning performance. The first two studies were aimed at evaluating the level of usability of a system developed as a multimedia distance learning course. An experiment was then conducted to compare the learning performance of students using this system to that of other students using different educational tools.
   Results lend a preliminary support to the hypothesis that a difficult to use hypermedia system can negatively affect learning performance.
Keywords: Multimedia systems; Hypertexts; Usability evaluation; Distance education; Learning
Bringing the Internet to the Community BIBAK 51-61
  C. Charlton; C. Gittings; P. Leng; J. Little; I. Neilson
Current developments in browser technology have largely ignored academic research on interface design in hypermedia systems. This is unlikely to change in the future. Thus, the needs of an information society must be met by providing appropriate training in the use of the technology in the community. To be effective, such training has to identify the difficulties computer-naive members of the public experience with existing systems and to consider both software and training based solutions to these problems.
   This paper seeks to encourage debate about strategies for facilitating access to Internet technology in the community by reviewing both the success and the difficulties encountered in a public access to the Internet outreach programme, the Internet Express, currently operating at libraries in Merseyside, UK.
Keywords: Internet; WWW; Public access; Training; Community
Empathic Communities: Balancing Emotional and Factual Communication BIBAK 63-77
  Jenny Preece
The Web empowers a diverse population of users and this is reflected in both the demography and interests of today's on-line communities. Many of these communities provide an essential social function by enabling people with medical or personal problems to discuss their concerns with others. Physicians can provide the facts, but other patients can tell you what it really feels like and what to expect next, in a way that only someone with personal experience can. A study of the messages from an on-line medical support group shows that empathy is an essential ingredient in participants' discussions. Better tools are needed to empower patients to help themselves by finding information and contacting other patients in bulletin board communities. Suggestions about the nature of these tools are discussed. In particular, supporting a balance between empathic and factual communication is stressed.
Keywords: Bulletin board; EmpathyI; Information exchange; On-line community

IWC 1999 Volume 12 Issue 2

Development Milestones towards a Tool for Working with Guidelines BIBAK 81-118
  J. Vanderdonckt
Several tools for working with guidelines already exist, both as commercial products as well as within research and development. As these tools frequently manipulate guidelines during many development steps of a user interface of an interactive application, they can overthrow any approach followed to develop this application. They also raise the fundamental question of to what extent can we trust these tools. To answer this question, we introduce five development milestones through which we must pass to produce a high quality tool for working with guidelines:
  • 1. An initial unstructured but comprehensive set of guidelines is formed by
        collecting, gathering, merging, compiling guidelines from all available
        world-wide ergonomic sources.
  • 2. The initial set is sorted and classified within a single organising
  • 3. A methodology, paying particular attention to finding and applying relevant
        guidelines is developed for grounding interactive applications on the
        organised set of guidelines.
  • 4. The structured guidelines and the supporting methodology are given
        computational representations for manipulation by computer-based tools.
  • 5. The methodology developed in (3) is further modified to optimise the
        effectiveness of computer-assisted user interface design. In this paper, we define these milestones and their associated goals, specify a general procedure and discuss some problems raised at each milestone. We then deliver an analytic synthesis of various experiences acquired to solve these problems and we discuss the validity of these experiences from the point of view of completeness, consistency and correctness. From these experiences, we finally draw some lessons useful for any future usage and development of a tool for working with guidelines.
    Keywords: Computer-aided design of user interfaces; Development methodology; Ergonomic algorithm; Evaluation; Guidelines; Human-computer interaction; Interactive application; Software development methodologies; Software engineering; Software ergonomics; Standard; Style guide; Tools for working with guidelines; Usability; User interface
  • User Interface Guidelines and Standards: Progress, Issues, and Prospects BIBAK 119-142
      P. Reed; K. Holdaway; S. Isensee; E. Buie; J. Fox; J. Williams; A. Lund
    This article reviews progress in the development of standards and guidelines for human-computer interaction, including those developed within international and US standards bodies. Guidance for incorporating software ergonomics standards and guidelines into software design and development processes is discussed. Several different techniques that have been defined for assessing the conformance of a product to guidelines are reviewed. In addition, the strategies employed by formally approved standards developed in ISO and ANSI for determining conformance are discussed. Finally, we discuss the prospects and challenges for software ergonomics standards and guidelines that must be addressed as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate.
    Keywords: Software ergonomics standards; User interface design; User interface guidelines; Software usability standards; Software ergonomics in design and development; Usability conformance assessment; Tools for working with guidelines
    A Taxonomy of Design Guidance for Hypermedia Design BIBAK 143-160
      B. Kemp; K. Buckner
    This paper describes the authors' efforts to codify and organise a wide range of design guidance, consisting of principles, guidelines, design methodologies and models. This involved the construction of a taxonomy of design guidance for hypermedia. The authors describe the procedure used to create a taxonomy of design guidance, and the taxonomy itself is given. The problems inherent in the construction procedure are illustrated, and ways in which the resulting taxonomy might be improved are considered.
    Keywords: Tools for working with guidelines
    Automatic Cross-Referencing of HCI Guidelines by Statistical Methods BIBAK 161-177
      L. Goffinet; M. Noirhomme-Fraiture
    This paper deals with the problem of automatically generating cross-reference links when converting existing HCI guidelines to hypertext. A statistical approach is introduced, based on techniques commonly used in Information Retrieval. Complementary probabilistic methods are also considered, so as to benefit from existing information about interesting links (manual cross-references) in order to create more relevant links than the ones generated without any knowledge. A semi-automated method is outlined to generate cross-references, with an application to a design guide containing guidelines.
    Keywords: Automatic cross-referencing; Hypertext generation; Semantic links; Tools for working with guidelines
    Incorporating Standards and Guidelines in an Approach that Balances Usability Concerns for Developers and End Users BIBAK 179-206
      J. Carter
    Human-computer interaction (HCI) guidelines are intended to help developers create usable systems for end users. However, these guidelines must first be usable for developers before they can improve the usability for end users. Unfortunately there is no requirement that HCI guidelines are usable themselves. The recent proliferation of HCI guidelines has added to the usability problems of HCI guidelines for developers. In order to get over these problems, developers need help in integrating the many available guidelines within their development process in a usable manner. The Usability First methodology helps the user to identify appropriate sources of guidance including experimentation, style guides, guidelines and standards. It also includes a variety of specific guidelines and references to major HCI standards.
    Keywords: Guidelines; Human-computer interaction; Software development methodologies; Software engineering; Standards; Tools for working with guidelines; Usability

    IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 3

    Formalization and Proof of Design Guidelines Within the Scope of Testing Formally Specified Electronic Product Catalogues BIBA 209-223
      H. Fritzsche; T. Michel
    Electronic product catalogues (EPCs) are a class of complex event driven multimedia information systems. A software engineering model was developed in the EPK-fix project to construct and test EPCs on the basis of formal specifications. With reference to the specification a whitebox-based test technology is supported by a test assistant. The dynamic analysis prerequisites the production of an interpretable dynamic model to simulate states and transitions of an EPC discretely. A test agent controls both the model and the EPC. Formal proof techniques are employed to detect violations against formalized design guidelines. Both formulation and formalization of design rules are demonstrated by example. A horn clause interpreter is used to prove the observance of design rules in state configurations of the EPC. Error detection by formal proofs enhances the test process.
    A Methodology and Tools for Applying Context-Specific Usability Guidelines to Interface Design BIBAK 225-243
      S. Henninger
    This paper presents a methodology and an associated technology to create context-specific usability guidelines. The objective is to transform usability guidelines into a proactive resource that software developers can employ early and often in the development process. The methodology ensures conformance with established guidelines, but has the flexibility to use design experiences to adapt the guidelines to meet the emergent and diverse requirements of modern user interface design. Case-based and organizational learning technology is used to support the methodology and provide valuable resources for software developers.
    Keywords: Guidelines; Human-computer interaction; Software development methodologies; Software engineering; Standards; Tools for working with guidelines; Usability
    A Model Based Approach to Semi-Automated User Interface Generation for Process Control Interactive Applications BIBAK 245-279
      F. Moussa; C. Kolski; M. Riahi
    The purpose of this paper is the description of a model-based approach (called ERGO-CONCEPTOR) to semi-automated user interface (UI) generation. Its application field concerns process control interactive applications. From a database describing the industrial process (for instance a chemical process) to be supervised, the system is able to generate automatically UI specifications using guidelines. The specifications contain eventually, design alternatives. They can be selected by the designer who can then interactively generate the UI. ERGO-CONCEPTOR is composed of three main modules. The first allows an interactive process description according to three sub-models (a physical model, a structural model and a functional model). The second module uses a knowledge-based approach for the automated generation of the UI specification. Finally, the third module is used by the designer to interactively generate the specified UI.
    Keywords: Automatic generation; Guidelines; Human-computer interaction; Human factors; Interactive application; Interface design; Model-based approach; Process control; Software ergonomics; Specification; User interface
    Integrated Support for Working with Guidelines: The Sherlock Guideline Management System BIBAK 281-311
      D. Grammenos; D. Akoumianakis; C. Stephanidis
    For a number of years, the primary medium for propagating human factors input to interactive system development has been paper-based guideline reference manuals. However, in the recent past, a number of tools for working with guidelines have emerged to ease the tasks of: (i) accessing and retrieving guidelines, (ii) applying recommendations to design prototypes, and (iii) facilitating a more effective human factors input to the early stages of system development. This paper presents a new way for working with guidelines and discusses the functionality, properties, typical use and evaluation of a supporting tool environment, the Sherlock Guideline Management System. Sherlock builds upon and extends the results of previous efforts to address state of the art requirements and problems, as highlighted by recent practice and experience in the use of the current generation of guideline management systems. In particular, Sherlock provides an integrated environment for articulating and depositing guidelines, accessing past experience, propagating guidelines/recommendations to the user interface development life-cycle, and facilitating the automatic usability inspection of tentative design. Thus, Sherlock fosters persistency of organisational knowledge on guidelines and evolution of the accumulated design wisdom.
    Keywords: Guideline management system (GMS); Tools for working with guidelines; Automatic usability inspection; User interface design support

    IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 4

    Special Issue on Intelligent Interface Technology: Editor's Introduction BIB 315-322
      D. R. Benyon; D. M. Murray
    Intelligent Interface Technology: From Theory to Reality? BIBAK 323-336
      M. F. McTear
    The relationship between theory and practice is particularly important in Intelligent Interface Technology as the ultimate proof of concept here is that the interface actually works, and that it is acceptable to users. For this reason practical issues such as performance, reliability and usability would seem to be more important than theoretical issues such as choice of system design methodology or specification notations. This article reviews two important areas of Intelligent Interface Technology, user modelling and spoken dialogue systems, considering the potential contribution of Artificial Intelligence research to the 'intelligent' components of this technology and examining the extent to which theoretical research in Artificial Intelligence contributes to the commercial deployability of Intelligent Interface Technology. It is concluded that, while theoretical foundations are necessary to prevent ad hoc solutions that lack generalisability, practical constraints of performance and usability will constrain the applicability of theoretical research in real systems.
    Keywords: Intelligent interfaces; Commercial deployability; User modelling; Spoken dialogue; Computational linguistics
    Vanishing Windows Technique for Adaptive Window Management BIBAK 337-355
      T. Miah; J. L. Alty
    Windowing system offer many benefits to users, such as being able to work on multiple tasks concurrently; or working with a number of windows, each connected to different remote machines or applications. Unless these windows are managed efficiently, users can easily become overwhelmed by the number of windows currently open and begin to lose their way round the desktop. This can lead to a state where the desktop is cluttered with windows. At this stage "window thrashing occurs, as users begin to perform window management operation (move, resize, minimise and etc.) in order to locate relevant pieces of information contained in one of several open windows.
       This article identifies a number of problems experienced by users of any windowing system such as Microsoft Windows, X-Windows or the Apple Macintosh windowing systems. It outlines a technique for reducing screen clutter when using such systems. The technique is known as Vanishing or Fading Windows. One of the features of this technique is that some of the burden of the window management operation is taken over by the system, hence allowing the user to focus more on application domain activities.
    Keywords: Screen clutter; Vanishing windows; Cognitive overload; Adaptive window manager
    Assistant Agents for the World Wide Web Intelligent Interface Design Challenges BIBAK 357-381
      R. J. Keeble; R. D. Macredie
    The development of 'intelligent' or 'adaptive' user interfaces has been a strong research theme in Human-Computer Interaction for many years, with the terms often used interchangeably. In this article we will argue that seeing these terms as interchangeable can be misleading and can have implications for the expectations of systems both from the designer's and user's perspectives. We will suggest that the emphasis at the interface should be on adaptation, leaving intelligent behaviour to the user. The article argues that realistic expectations of available interaction information must be maintained when specifying the behaviour of an adaptive interface, such as the one containing agents. This article illustrates the process of the design and implementation of a set of software agents which act as Web Assistants, aiding the user in browsing the world wide web (WWW): issues in specifying the agents' functionality and adaptation characteristics; issues in designing the adaptation and inference rules required for each agent and implementing and integrating them within a user interface. The process raises both architectural and implementation issues which lead to conclusions drawn at the end of the article, concerning adaptivity versus intelligence and considering specifically the quality of interaction information available and the need to maintain realistic expectations on the part of the designers of adaptive systems.
    Keywords: Intelligent user interfaces; Adaptive user interfaces; Software agents; User interface design; User modelling; Interface architectures; Web browsing
    Encapsulating Intelligent Interactive Behaviour in Unified User Interface Artefacts BIBAK 383-408
      D. Akoumianakis; A. Savidis; C. Stephanidis
    Intelligence at the level of the user interface is currently being supported through a number of prevalent strands, including adaptive user interfaces, model-based user interface development and interface agents. Moreover, the term intelligent user interface typically implies the notion of dynamically enhancing the interaction with a single implemented artefact to suit different usage patterns, user groups, or contexts of use. This article extends this notion and describes how unified design artefacts can support the development of accessible and high quality user interfaces exhibiting the characteristics of multiple metaphor environments. To this effect, the article outlines the principles of unified user interface development and discusses how it can be used to advance Intelligent Interface Technology to account for diverse user requirements and interaction contexts.
    Keywords: Intelligent user interfaces; Multiple metaphor environment; Unified user interface development method
    Steps to Take Before Intelligent User Interfaces Become Real BIBAK 409-426
      K. Höök
    Intelligent user interfaces have been proposed as a means to overcome some of the problems that direct manipulation interfaces cannot handle, such as: information overflow problems; providing help on how to use complex systems; or real-time cognitive overload problems. Intelligent user interfaces are also being proposed as a means to make systems individualised or personalised, thereby increasing the system's flexibility and appeal. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems not yet solved that prevent us from creating good intelligent user interface applications. We do not have efficient methods for developing them. There are demands on better usability principles for them. We need a better understanding of the possible ways the interface can utilise intelligence to improve the interaction. Finally, we need to design better tools that will enable an intelligent system to survive the full life cycle of a system (including updates of the database, system support, etc.). We define these problems further and point out some possible solutions.
    Keywords: Intelligent user interfaces; User modelling; Usability

    IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 5

    Information Technology Acceptance in a Sample of Government Employees: A Test of the Technology Acceptance Model BIBAK 427-443
      Peter Roberts; Ron Henderson
    The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) [37] model, a derivative of the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) [26], attempts to explain the psychological determinants of attitudes, and subsequent acceptance behaviour, towards Information Technology (IT) in the workplace. The present study examined the efficacy of this psychologically based TAM within two samples of government workers experienced in the use of computers (N=108). All participants completed a self-report questionnaire consisting of both previously developed and purpose derived scales. The study achieved its purpose of replicating and validating a development of the TAM, although only moderate support for the model was found. The applied implications of the research and wider theoretical implications of the study are discussed.
    Keywords: Information technology; Technology acceptance model; Human-computer interface
    Distributed Visual Reasoning for Intelligent Information Retrieval on the Web BIBAK 445-467
      C. Lee; Y.-T. Chen
    In this article, we describe a distributed visual reasoning system for intelligent information retrieval on the Web. The system is an integration of visual programming, the Web browser, Java applets, inference engine, and database servers. It provides users with a visual programming interface and acts as a mediator to coordinate messages passing among the Web clients, inference engine, and database servers for the information retrieval. A Web server is used to store the required Web page and to provide the required configuration functions for the system. Through the Web client a user can download all required Java classes, information, and the visual programming interface agent through the HTTP protocol, then activate the functions of Java applets. By composing visual sentences and providing parameters in the visual programming interface a user can extract the required information. A distributed communication model is proposed to give better communication speed and a more reliable connection. We use a financial diagnosis as one of many potential applications to illustrate our system.
    Keywords: World Wide Web; Information retrieval; Visual programming; Java; Financial diagnosis; Distributed system
    Side Effects of Decision Guidance in Decision Support Systems BIBAK 469-481
      J. J. Jiang; G. Klein
    Ideal Decision Support Systems (DSS) provide aid in the attainment of a solution to a particular problem of the user. However, during system interaction, the dialogue design of the DSS has the potential to influence the outcome of the solution. This side effect may or may not be desirable, but system designers must be aware of the potential impact. A laboratory study described in this report examines the significance of the impact. A total of 46 subjects conducted decisions on forecasting methods under two different design structures for DSS interfaces. An increase in guidance provided by the system led to a significant change in the decision model selected. This change in model selected resulted in a number of different solutions to the study's forecasting problem. In application settings, such impacts need to be evaluated prior to implementation to avoid the situations where the software influences the decision process.
    Keywords: Decision support systems; Decision guidance; User interface design
    Design and Evaluation of the Alignment Stick BIBAK 483-506
      R. Raisamo; K.-J. Raiha
    Object alignment is one of the basic operations in drawing programs. Current solutions provide mainly three ways for carrying out this operation: either by issuing an alignment command, or by using direct positioning with the help of gravity active points, or by making use of constraints. The first technique has limited functionality, and the other two may be difficult to learn for a novice. We describe here a new direct manipulation tool for alignment. We show that while direct manipulation helps to make the normal use of the tool intuitive, it also offers advanced functionality not found in current commercial products. We report on an empirical study in which we compared the ease of use, intuitiveness, learnability, and efficiency of alignment menus, palettes and the alignment stick. In the study novice users found the basic operation of the alignment stick natural and easy to learn. The increased functionality was best appreciated and utilized by the experienced users.
    Keywords: Drawing programs; Alignment tools; Direct manipulation; Menus; Tool palettes; Two-handed interaction; Alignment stick; Empirical tests
    Possible Implications of Aging for Interface Designers BIBAK 507-528
      D. Hawthorn
    The populations of the developed countries are becoming older while computer use is affecting increasingly wide aspects of life. Thus it is increasingly important that interface designs make software accessible to older adults. However there is almost no research on what makes an interface usable for older adults. As a stopgap measure this paper reviews the findings on the effects of age on relevant abilities and uses this information to provide suggestions to consider when designing interfaces for older users. The paper concludes with indications of the needed research in the area of interface design for older users.
    Keywords: Computer use; Interface designs; Aging
    Intelligent Graphical User Interface Design Utilizing Multiple Fuzzy Agents BIBAK 529-542
      A. Agah; K. Tanie
    A novel approach for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of human-computer interactions through an intelligent graphical user interface (GUI) is presented in this paper. It is demonstrated that through monitoring the user's actions, the system can determine the intents of the user, transforming the deduced intentions into system actions. Understanding of the user's implicit actions can reduce the burden on the user in terms of required explicit commands. Hence, a human friendlier computer system is built. One method to assess the effectiveness of the user interface enhancements is by reduction in the number of operations performed by the user in achieving a specific goal while using the GUI. The enhanced graphical user interface described in this paper is a conventional GUI enhanced with an intelligent control module. The intelligent component is composed of a group of software agents that cooperate and compete to control the system. A computer mouse is used as the input device, through which the user performs a number of clicks and drag-and-drop tasks, while selecting and moving objects on the computer screen. The intelligent module monitors the movements and states of the mouse and the cursor, and aids the user based on the multiple agents' determinations of the user's sub-goals. Experimental results are presented, where human subjects achieved specific goals using the GUI, with and without the intelligent control module. Initial experiments have confirmed that the novel technique is a feasible approach for designing an effective and efficient intelligent GUI, as it reduces the amount of work required from the human user who is interacting with the computer.
    Keywords: Human-computer interaction; Intelligent user interface; Graphical user interface; Multi-agent technologies; Fuzzy logic control; Human intention understanding

    IWC 2000 Volume 12 Issue 6

    Intelligent Interfaces through Interactive Planners BIBAK 545-564
      C. V. Copas; E. Edmonds
    Recent progress in planning has enabled this technique to be applied to some significant real-world problems, including the construction of intelligent user interfaces. Previous research in interactive planners has emphasised their dynamism and maintenance advantages. This paper adopts a user-interaction perspective, and explores the theme that a paradigm shift in human-computer interaction is now a prospect: away from the requirement to instruct machines towards a more declarative, goal-based form of interaction. This initiative necessarily involves consideration of the design of goal description languages, and some alternatives are analysed. Some architectural issues associated with embedding planners within a user interface management system are examined, together with some practical implementation issues. Planning is discussed in the context of human-computer interaction specification methods. It is shown that planning formalisms possess advantages of expressiveness, and that executable specifications could usefully incorporate some control aspects from planning.
    Keywords: Intelligent user interfaces; Model-based systems; User interface management systems; Formal specifications; Executable specifications; Task analysis; Planning; Geographic information systems; Petri nets; Declarative interaction; Goal description languages
    An Analysis of Errors in Interactive Proof Attempts BIBAK 565-586
      S. Aitken; T. Melham
    The practical utility of interactive, user-guided, theorem proving depends on the design of good interaction environments, the study of which should be grounded in methods of research into human-computer interaction (HCI). This paper discusses the relevance of classifications of programming errors developed by the HCI community to the problem of interactive theorem proving. A new taxonomy of errors is proposed for interaction with theorem provers and its adequacy as a usability metric is assessed experimentally.
    Keywords: Interactive proof attempts; Interaction environments; Human-computer interaction
    Communication with Users: Insights from Second Language Acquisition BIBAK 587-599
      A. Kukulska-Hulme
    The paper addresses the question of how an English language user interface will be understood by users from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and provides some answers from the study of second language acquisition and the practice of language teaching and learning. It is accepted that for a number of reasons, translation of an English interface into other languages is not always feasible or appropriate. Existing knowledge of language learning problems and solutions can be applied to the design of English language interfaces so that they are more accessible to non-native speakers. The present article categorises language-related problems, gives examples in each category, and provides a set of guidelines. The conclusion reached is that making word collocations and co-occurrences visible and available is the key to building in sufficient verbal context for understanding -- a measure which will also be helpful to native speakers of English.
    Keywords: Internationalisation; Culturally diverse users; Word meanings; Verbal context; Ambiguity; Pronunciation
    How to Replace an Old Email System with a New BIBAK 601-614
      O. Balter
    All organizations that use email face changes in their email systems. While some of these are only a change of version that has little effect on the organization, many will replace old email systems with new ones, and this may have severe consequences. A case study is presented where the replacement of two old mainframe-based email systems with Lotus Notes failed. Based on this failure, seven important requirements are defined to reduce problems organizations face when replacing old email systems with new ones. These requirements are supported with results from other research.
    Keywords: Electronic mail; Groupware; Installation; Introduction; User studies
    Gathering Accurate Client Information from World Wide Web Sites BIBAK 615-622
      O. Richardson
    This paper discusses the design and use of a number of simple measurement methods that are available to the developers of small World Wide Web (Web)systems. The focus is on how the resulting data can be used to assist with re-designing the initial system. The author argues that the analysis of viewer usage patterns, together with the need for ever more sophisticated collection should form an essential part of the development life cycle of a Web-based system. The conclusion outlines some desirable features of such tools, based on development and maintenance experience on a University site.
    Keywords: Web design; Web maintenance; User statistics; World wide web
    Why Don't Telephones have Off Switches? Understanding the Use of Everyday Technologies BIBAK 623-634
      B. A. T. Brown; M. Perry
    Unlike other technologies, the telephone is unusual in that it cannot be 'turned off'. Almost uniquely, its design does not incorporate an off switch, or when it does, it tends to be located in an inaccessible position (such as on the underside of the phone). Rather than arguing that this is a special feature of telephones, this paper argues that this is an example of designers seeing rules as generators of action, rather than resources for action. That is, a rule of phone behaviour is "when a phone rings, answer it". However, rules do not simply generate action. We can choose when not to follow it. Support for this case has been neglected by designers, forcing individuals to appropriate other technologies to support not answering the phone. These rules of use are implicit in how we conceptualise the use of technology, and in turn, how we perform design. We suggest that designers can be aided by understanding better the nature of rule following, allowing them to design technology that supports 'deviant', yet equally valid modes of use.
    Keywords: Rules; Innovation design; Technology use; User appropriation; Information appliances
    The Effects of Simulating Human Conversational Style in a Computer-Based Interview BIBAK 635-650
      D. R. Peiris; P. Gregor; N. Alm
    A computer interview involves a program asking questions of the user, who responds by providing answers directly to the computer. Using a computer interview has been shown to be an effective method of eliciting information, and particularly personal information which many people find difficult to discuss face to face. While the simulation of some of the characteristics of human-human communication seems to enhance the dialogue, it appears to be the absence of others, such as being non-judgmental, unshockable, completely consistent, and unendingly patient, that gives computer interviewing its particular effectiveness.
       The work reported in this paper investigated the effect of simulating in a computer interview two techniques which good human interviewers use: empathy and grouping questions. Thirty nine interviewees answered 40 questions on a computer, in combinations of human-like or computer-like question styles, and presented in either a logical or a random order.
       They found the use of the human interviewer technique in the wording of questions made the computer interviews more interesting and enjoyable, than when blunt, direct questioning was used, and they answered honestly more often to the human-like style.
       This investigation has shown that a computer interview can be made more effective by simulating the human interviewer technique of empathising with interviewees and softening those questions which are of a sensitive nature. It seems therefore that it is the combination of the right non-human characteristics with the right human characteristics that can produce a successful computer interview. The question for further research is which are the right characteristics in each case, given the purpose of the interview.
    Keywords: Computer-based interviewing; Human-computer interaction; Interaction styles; Information elicitation; Dialogue design; Empathy