Humans have interacted with computers ever since they invented computers. The first interactions between a computer and a human required tremendous amounts of knowledge and lots of scientists. It also required a couple of rooms, one for the computer and another to host the people, so they don’t end up with a heat stroke. Since that time, computers have become so user-friendly that children are often better at using them than their parents.
Since the 1980s a field of study called human-computer interaction gained grounds. This is a multidisciplinary field which studies the interaction between humans and computers. To understand it more, we should take a closer look.
Human-Computer Interaction Research Basics
The study of human-computer interaction is approached by several scientific fields. Most of them have focused on user comfort and are user-centric. The scientific fields involved vary from sociology, neurology, psychology, to design, media studies and more.
There are a couple of primary principals to the study, the first being the user. It is determined how many users are needed to perform a task, which kind of users can perform it and whether them operating an interface requires any special knowledge.
Empirical measurement is used to determine interactions with users through early testing, also known as alpha or beta testing. Have in mind that the results might not represent real-world results due to the differences in user behavior and level of performance. A couple of things should be measured empirically, the number of users required to complete a task, the time required to complete a task and the number of errors made during the task completion process.
Iterative step designs are used when the former two are completed to evaluate a user-interface until the results are satisfying. There are 4 steps in iterative design, those being designing the interface, testing it, analyzing the results and repeating the process.
These steps are performed when designing or evaluating a user interface, a very important part of human-computer interaction.
Studies of Human-Computer Interaction
Things studied today are user customization, users being provided with the ability to customize their software as they see fit; and augmented reality, information being presented to users in order to enhance the things they see. Think of glasses with additional content like weather or news, but in practice, statistics and data provided to a user performing a task.
More topics include social computing, emotions and human-computer interaction and even brain-computer connections and interfaces.
Human-computer interaction is an important field of study which shows us how we interact with an interface, what does a certain interface need to do in order to be user-friendly and that many users need to have immense amounts of knowledge and performance level to operate directly with hardware, in other words, the scientists who drive change.