By Jay C.B.
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4 Usability The conventional way to address usability is through intensive training. But the time required is prohibitive. Already reducing training time is a key business need... There is another way: Instead of trying to teach the user about how the computer system works, we can exploit knowledge already in the user's head. But how do we do that? Let's start by considering how people deal with technology in general, and then apply it to computers. In discussing how people use technology (such as a video player, a swing door, a cooker, or a computer), Donald Norman [Norman 1990] identifies three conceptual, or mental models that are important in the operation of such devices.
The problem arises when the designer's model of this workbench is that of an application that contains all the things required for the given set of business processes. This is the flip-side—the developer's side—of the ‘application problem’, and in this section we further explore the problem. ). The company decided that new developments would have an object-based user interface on PCs (and that data would be held on a mainframe). Shortly after this decision was made, the AD department was asked to implement two different business processes— order entry and contracting.
Thus, for a person to formulate a good user's model, the designer must make his (the designer's) model obvious through the system image. The difficulty is understanding how the user builds a conceptual model. Norman describes the psychology of the user's conceptual model as being built from everyday experience. The user will attempt to transfer existing knowledge to new systems: N If the new system fails to match his conceptual model he will find it difficult to learn (leading potentially to frustration and rejection) N If it does match, he will rapidly gain confidence in its relevance and applicability The ‘usability iceberg’ Mapping this to computer user interfaces indicates that users' conceptual models are of crucial importance to computer usability.
An introduction to categories in computing by Jay C.B.