Applicability of HCI techniques to systems interface design
This thesis seeks to identify reasons why HCI techniques are unsuitable for application in real world design projects. User-oriented systems design and evaluation require that many considerations such as the psychology of users, the applications and target tasks be born in mind simultaneously. A selection of influential HCI design and evaluative techniques from HCI research literature are reviewed and characterised in terms of their analytic scope. Two studies of systems designers' approaches to user-oriented design and evaluation were carried out in order to gain a clearer picture of the design process as it occurs in applied and commercial projects. It was found that designers frequently lack adequate information about users, carrying Out, at best, informal user-evaluations of prototypes. Most notably HCI design and evaluative techniques, of the type common in the literature, are not being used in applied and commercial design practice. They seem to be complex, often limited in scope, and possessed of inadequate or unrepresentative views of the design process within which they might be applied. It was noted that design practice is highly varied with only a small number of common goal directed classes of activity being identified. These together with observed user-oriented information sources and design constraints provide a useful schema for viewing applied and commercial design practice. A further study of HCI specialists' practice in commercial environments was undertaken, in order to identify particular user-oriented design approaches and HCI techniques suitable for application in practice. The specialists were able to describe desirable, and undesirable properties of the techniques they used which made it possible to identify a list of specific desirable features for HCI techniques. A framework for assessing applicability of HCI techniques was developed from the findings of the thesis. This is demonstrated using an example project from the design studies and may prove valuable in supporting design, evaluation, critiquing and selection of HCI techniques.