Resources | Assignment
Comments | Teaching Materials
How many interactive products are there in
everyday use? Think for a minute about what you use in a typical
day: cell phone, computer, personal organizer, re mote
control, soft drink machine, coffee machine, ATM, ticket machine,
library in formation system, the web, photocopier, watch,
printer, stereo, calculator, video game... the list is endless.
Now think for a minute about how usable they are. How many
are actually easy, effortless, and enjoyable to use? All of
them, several, or just one or two? This list is probably considerably
shorter. Why is this so?
Think about when some device caused you considerable
grief-how much time did you waste trying to get it to work?
Two well known interactive devices that cause numerous people
immense grief are the photocopier that doesn't copy the way
they want and the VCR that records a different program from
the one they thought they had set or none at all. Why do you
think these things happen time and time again? Moreover, can
anything be done about it?
Many products that require users to interact
with them to carry out their tasks (e.g., buying a ticket
online from the web, photocopying an article, prerecording
a TV program) have not necessarily been designed with the
users in mind. Typically, they have been engineered as systems
to perform set functions. While they may work effectively
from an engineering perspective, it is often at the expense
of how the system will be used by real people. The aim of
interaction design is to redress this concern by bringing
usability into the design process. In essence, it is about
developing interactive products 1 that are easy, effective,
and enjoyable to use---from the users' perspective.
In this chapter we begin by examining what
interaction design is. We look at the difference between good
and poor design, highlighting how products can differ radically
in their usability. We then describe what and who is involved
in interaction design. In the last part of the chapter we
outline core aspects of usability and how these are used to
assess interactive products. An assignment is presented at
the end of the chapter in which you have the opportunity to
put into practice what you have read, by evaluating an interactive
product using various usability criteria. The main aims of
the chapter are to:
- Explain the difference between good and
poor interaction design.
- Describe what interaction design is and
how it relates to humancomputer interaction and other
- Explain what usability is.
- Describe what is involved in the process
of interaction design.
- Outline the different forms of guidance
used in interaction design.
- Enable you to evaluate an interactive
product and explain what is good and bad about it in terms
of the goals and principles of interaction design.