07 Oct 1997 ............... Length about 350 words (2500 bytes).
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The changing focus of user centered design in HCI, CAL, and WWW design.
by Steve Draper,
University of Glasgow
A talk to COGS
, University of Sussex, 4pm Tues 14 Oct 1997.
In what might now be thought of as classic HCI, the focus of UCSD (user
centered system design) was to reduce the usability problems (costs). In CAL,
where I have worked on
evaluation methods, the focus has turned out to be
utility: optimising benefits to learners. Failure to support them
successfully is usually the bottleneck, not minimising their keystrokes or
puzzlement at labels or icons. (
Laurillard's model seems helpful here, and
also replaces the notion of a single user task with that of 12 activities all
of which contribute to the single aim of learning.)
Recent work on designing web sites for university departments
suggests that yet another focus is the key issue here: that of supporting
communication between two parties at low costs and high utility for them, on
behalf of third parties or "brokers". Thus contrary to what the parties have
believed, this is not a problem of writing some HTML code, nor of doing
document layout. It is one where serious requirements capture work and end
user testing are more, not less, necessary than in many heavy computer
- Neither information consumer nor provider are willing to spend more than a few
seconds effort: brokers like heads of department are the ones with the strong
motivation for the communication to work.
- Finding a way to keep pages up to date is much more important that web page
- Many information chunks (e.g. job ads, qualifications in CVs, course
descriptions) fail fundamentally because they presuppose a common
ground between provider and consumer that does not exist.
- Web page providers hardly ever get negative feedback, and so do not improve
HCI Human Computer Interaction
CAL Computer Assisted Learning, or any use of computers to support learning.
WWW World Wide Web
UCSD User Centered System Design, or (University of California, San Diego)