Human-Computer Interaction 3e Dix, Finlay, Abowd, Beale

exercises  -  5. interaction design basics


Comment on the use of layout and other elements in the control panels (figures CS.1, CS.2 and CS.3), including the way in which various visual elements support or hinder logical grouping and sequence.

answer available for tutors only

The sub-panels give some logical grouping, especially good for original alarm control, but spoilt a bit with revised alarm behaviour where the CONFIRM button is part of the same logical interaction - perhaps an additional CONFIRM button on the Alarm panel would have been better. The location of Emergency shutdown immediately above the CONFIRM does emphasise both grouping and sequence, but perhaps should either be part of same panel or have a line/coloured box drawn on the control panel linking them.

The manual override controls are all grouped together, but the position and layout of the keypad are unusual (problems for left handed users?). The normal sequence is select target, move right to the keypad (OK for most European settings), but then back left again for SET button, perhaps the last a little unnatural. Again linking the three sub-panels with a drawn box or colouring them could increase the emphasis that they have a common function. The main sequence/grouping problem is that they are only enabled in red mode hence changes to them involve going back and forth across the control room.

In general it seems the uniform size of the sub-panels is causing some problematic design choices. This is not uncommon as a complete control panel often consists of lots of sub-systems. This is an example where the constraints of the implementation environment need to be accommodated.

Other exercises in this chapter

ex.5.1 (tut), ex.5.2 (tut), ex.5.3 (tut), ex.5.4 (tut), ex.5.5 (tut), ex.5.6 (ans), ex.5.7 (tut), ex.5.8 (tut), ex.5.9 (tut), ex.5.10 (tut), ex.5.11 (tut), ex.5.12 (tut)

all exercises for this chapter

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