Archive for the ‘HCI’ tag

A starting point   1 comment

Posted at 4:01 pm in Uncategorized

The question I hope to approach (unless I get that “Are you sure?” email from Les) is “How can we design a better user interface?”. In case you’re not sure of the terminology, I take “user interface” to mean any way in which people interact with a computer, from graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to physical hardware like mice and touchscreens, text-to-speech for visually impaired people, and even gesture based interfaces like Kinect and LeapMotion.

I like this as a topic because for 95% of computer scientists and programmers (like me) in the real world it’s not even a consideration; of course the website will be good, just look how well the server processes data. After all, what’s the point of building something great if only people with a computing degree can understand what the obscure symbols on the tiny buttons are supposed do?

The two subject areas I chose to analyse my question are Geography and Biology. They may seem obscure for this kind of problem, but they’re not totally off the wall, and here’s why:

Biology, the study of life

The systems we design are for people, so the study of people has a lot to offer this problem. It could be from a purely physical standpoint looking at the size and shape of people (Biological Anthropology), like whether they can actually reach the top of a touchscreen (thanks Galaxy Note, you don’t really work here). It could also be the application of biological principles like natural selection to interface designs; if I get 1000 people to trial several designs then we take the best ones forward to the second round of testing.

Geography, the study of the world around us

This one’s a bit more obscure and possibly harder to apply, however geography has some of the oldest methods of representing and simplifying data to make it more accessible to people. Cartography (Physical Geography) has been making it possible for people to get around for hundreds of years, and the census (Human Geography) takes information about the entire population and presents it in easy to read statistics.

Hopefully there’s a lot of potential for both of these and over the next few weeks I’ll be digging further to find out exactly what can be applied and how. If anyone has any thoughts then please add a comment or come over and find me.

Written by Alex Owen on October 9th, 2013

Tagged with , , , ,