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Human Computer Interaction

Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between users (human) and machine. The study of HCI includes the interaction between users and computers or systems that may occur at software or hardware level. The user interface definition is much broader than the normal definition. It deals with the following important issues; • To match the tasks of the users • Controlling/changing the user behaviour • Navigating within the screen and user • Integration among various applications

People use computer and machines for various reasons with their level of understanding. Normally people are accommodating to understand the machines and its way of working; however sometimes, the machines or systems have design faults; which can range from complexity of operation to poorly designed interface leading to various problem in interaction between man and machine. It is for this reason that user centered designed are vital part of modern machines. Looking at the variety of products today; it is clear that there is a wide gap between users and designers.

For example the market is flooded with countless mobile phones, but few phones are really user friendly. For example Bluetooth technology is common many mobile phone, but few people really understand, how to use it and what are its implications. In many cases many older users don’t know; if some one hack into their mobile device. In other example of poor design can be Internet explorer in early phones; where a user has to move screen up and down to see a web page.

As the mobile phone screen was too small, the designer came up with page moving tool; however it looked funny to scroll up and down just to see a hyper link. A good approach would have been to custom design web pages for mobile devices rather than offering full range internet explorer which is too huge and too complex for small screen. Nokia mobile phone can be considered a classic example of user-friendly interface; which has bigger and clear icons and is common among older and less educated people due to its interactive interface.

Human beings make choices, some times these decisions create situation outside their control. Imagine a situation, where a user wish to shop online; he has to fill a lengthy form; as he presses the submit button; the computer hangs (as use to happen in the earlier version of Internet explorer). Such experiences create negative perception of online shopping leading the shopper to give up online shopping due to inherent problems. Such kind of problems arises due to poorly programmed interface that creates frustration for web users.

Even though in current web shopping model; this problem has been fixed (by interface designer and programmers) the result is rise of online sales in past few years. The HCI arises out of human interaction with the machine/computer/system. One way for designer to design better system is to understand man machine interaction. For example in mental problem that is widely used in recent days, the user interacts with computer when he/she receives a feedback from the system; which allows him/her to develop the representation of the system (how the system work).

This mental model incorporates the goals of the users and system output expectations in response to users actions. The role of designer in such situation is to increase the usability interface by designing the interface which is consistent with the other interfaces allowing the users to find the system and the functions friendly allowing user to interact in a hassle free way with the machine. Conclusion From the above discussion, it is clear that a good interface is vital to communicate with machine.

In order to come up with a successful design; the designers need to understand various issues, such as how people communicate with machines/systems/applications. How much users are capable of running the system successfully. And how people are adapting a new technology. Taken all these factors into account can provide the designers to create user-friendly interface. The friendly interface can have many benefits.

For example a friendly computer software can help in saving a lot of time; while an unfriendly not only wastes time; but it can also create problems as happened in recent voting in US. In 21st century, man is moving from generic computing to automation of various devices, which makes it essential for computer engineers and designers to come up with such devices that can interact in user-friendly manner with users and make them easy to use by people of all ages.

Reference

Julie A. Jacko, Andrew Sears, The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003. Stephen W. Draper, Donald A. Norman, User Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986. John M. Carroll, “Human-Computer Interaction: Psychology as a Science of Design “. Annual Review of Psychology (1997).

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