Had the keyboard not been as simple as the typewriter, very few elite scientists would be using the computers even now. The basic phones have their power packed applications which are activated through very few buttons and a minimal keyboard.
So ‘User Interface; defines how simple the system is easy to use and this in turn creates the momentum for the use this technology.
In a knowledge society, access to information and the tools required to manipulate it are made available to all. People who access this information are capable of putting to good use in an appropriate manner. In order for many people to use a technology, it must meet the demand and skill levels of a very average user.
The media used to process knowledge has gone way beyond the pen and paper era. Modern machines can receive their inputs through human-friendly interactive interfaces. When it comes to such interfaces, usability is the key feature to focus and this also combined with ‘ergonomic’ – the human factors engineering of how people using technology to do their work can be affected. Ergonomics stemming from the Greek word ‘ergon’ meaning work, and ‘nomoi’ meaning natural laws), is the science of refining the design of products / technologies to optimize them for human use.
As more and more computer related work load human lives, the products like the mouse, keyboards and even computer desks and tables are used for extended periods of time unlike before. Any of these products if not designed ergonomically, people using them can suffer from stress, musculoskeletal disorders or even injuries. This is the reason behind screens that can be tilted and chairs that can be angled to suit the user’s physical profile. Let us see how advancements in devices like mouse and keyboards to make them more ergonomic – the human factor.
Take the example of the time feature in the video recorders. Most VCRs display the time 12.00 blinking non-stop, revealing the fact that the system to set it to current time is often so complicated that the user chooses to ignore the setting and live with the blinks.
In a similar manner website of product literature or even devices if not designed with adequate consideration to human factor, they well not serve their purpose. In essence usability of a device means the following:
- how quick and effortlessly it is learnable
- how efficient it is in getting the work done
- how memorable is the process of using it
- how error-free it is in its interface
- how satisfied does the user feel after using it intuitively
Any system socially acceptable, physically and psychologically usable, develop widespread acceptance and increased usage. The innovative multi-touch screens just as in the Apple iPhone / iTouch and the Microsoft Surface - tabletop system are truly changing our old habits of mouse and keyboard clicks to more natural interactive experience with gestures, touch, grab and swipe. The question of affordable reach can be answered only as time goes on.
As the site of the week on the topic of usable interfaces, let us visit a website which you can navigate by just moving your mouse to the position but not necessarily clicking it. Try to use the flash website of the Institute of Interactive Research website at http://www.dontclick.it/ where you never have to click your mouse to browse as an experimental project. Don’t just stop at the home page; enter the experimental site and give you valuable feedback. Enjoy the mouse boot camps and the mouse movement recorder.
The next level of interactivity between humans and computer can become only more natural through natural language speech recognition engines and thought-activated menu of commands. Until then lets play with the mice, clickety-click our keyboards also practice healthy computing.