What is usability?

If I had to describe HCI is one word, it would be usability. Usability refers to the ease of use for the software/hardware.

So what is usability? Usability asks if the product, webpage, etc. is effective, efficient, and user friendly. Were the goals met? Are the users satisfied? Was cognitive load reduced where possible? Error free experience? Comfortable environment?

Thus usability is extremely important when designing anything. So how do you test usability? Well there are many types of tests that can be performed from experts evals, groups, users, etc. There are also many types of guideline charts out there in the research depending on what type of material you are testing (i.e., a webpage, mobile app, control scheme, etc.).

What is Human Computer Interaction – HCI

What is HCI?

“Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the study and the practice of usability. It is about understanding and creating software and other technology that people will want to use, and will find effective when used. The concept of usability, and the methods and tools to encourage it, achieve it, and measure it are now touchstones in the culture of computing” – Carroll (2002)

HCI is how we interact with computer hardware and software. Not just computer though, but all machines – such as your car, dishwasher, airplane etc. The point of HCI is to make these technologies more ‘user friendly’ so that they are easier for us to interact with both physically and mentally. The key to HCI being usability – so expect more blog posts on usability.

Can a computer detect cognitive load? The latest in HCI

Well this is very interesting. This computer system can determine when a persons brain activity is being overloaded and in return adjust the computer interface to take that load off of the user. While I am not sure this works (need to see this research peer reviewed and read it), I am very intrigued by the possibilities and promise this holds in both the cognitive load and human computer interaction research.

“Their system, called Brainput, is designed to recognize when a person’s workload is excessive and then automatically modify a computer interface to make it easier. The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology, called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), that determines when a person is multitasking. Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a system that adjusted the user’s workload at those times. A computing system with Brainput could, in other words, learn to give you a break.”

More of the article here: http://mashable.com/2012/05/14/brainput/

Computer Interface Design: MIT 595

Learn Adobe Photoshop techniques (Beginner to advanced) while simultaneously learning the principles of human-computer interaction. This course will focus on designing visually pleasing interfaces for PC, tablet, and mobile devices. You will learn the theories behind interface design and learn how to apply them in various settings through Adobe Photoshop.

Summer Session 1

Tues/Thurs 5-8pm

Please see flyer for details