Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The effects of icon characteristics, experience and workload on interface usability
Author: Isherwood, S. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The first phase of experimentation studied user's perception of icons. When first encountering concrete, or pictorial, icons, users can compare the icon to their knowledge of the real world to deduce its meaning. This is much less likely for abstract icons, which usually consist of shapes, arrows and lines. A close relationship between icon concreteness and icon meaningfulness would therefore be expected. As users gain experience with icons, however, icon meaningfulness would therefore be expected to increase whilst concreteness remained constant. Experimentation found this to be the case. Consequently, although the icon characteristics of concreteness and meaningfulness may initially be closely related, with experience users perceive them as being independent icon characteristics. The second phase of experimentation examined the influence of icon characteristics , user experience, and mental workload on performance. The icon characteristics of concreteness, meaningfulness, familiarity and semantic distance were found to have considerable influence on user performance. Despite the emphasis on concreteness in previous research, semantic distance was most influential in determining novice users' performance. This was possibly because they relied on 'goodness-of-fit' between icons and their functions, rather than simply pictorialness, in order to learn icon-function relationships. Experienced users' response times were largely determined by icon familiarity, which appeared to act as an index of how easily representations could be accessed from long-term memory. Familiarity was also particularly important for high workload conditions. This research shows the importance of cognitive icon characteristics in determining user performance. Finally, the characteristics of primary importance were found to vary in accordance in experience and workload.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available