Theories/principles in interface design

5 Feb 2009 - 8:46pm
5 years ago
7 replies
1182 reads
oliver green
2006

Other than Gestalt's principles what are some common design principles
that are based on human sensory perception (not just visual but also
memory, auditory, haptic etc.?)

Thanks,
Oliver

Comments

5 Feb 2009 - 9:07pm
Anonymous

Oliver, take a look at Miller's working memory magical number 7
theory http://www.musanim.com/miller1956/.
Cheers, Suze.

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6 Feb 2009 - 12:01am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 5, 2009, at 5:46 PM, oliver green wrote:

> Other than Gestalt's principles what are some common design principles
> that are based on human sensory perception (not just visual but also
> memory, auditory, haptic etc.?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychophysics

Jared

6 Feb 2009 - 7:27am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

This is a good topic.

Consider Fitts' law:
A mathematical law that predicts how long it takes to move from a starting
point to a target object of a particular size. Fitts' law has been applied
in UCD to tasks involving pointing at objects on the screen.

and Hick's (or the Hick-Hyman) law (how long does it take to choose an item
from a menu).

There are a whole set of cognitive biases that influence our perception of
events. Here are two biases that con strongly influence design:

Availability – memorable items are weighted as more significant than
everyday items.

Re Representativeness – people tend to overestimate the representativeness
of small samples.

Other biases can be found in Wikipedia at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias

Other principles of interest might be:

Theories and principles of vigilance (what are the issues around noticing
relatively rare events)

In this realm of social computing, there are a number of principles of
social psychology that are now being applied (consciously). The whole set
of principles of persuasion and group influence and group formation applies
to all the social networking tools (see B.J. Fogg's book on persuasive
techologies). Principles of social perception are quite important now.

A good reference for a wide range of principles that affect design is:

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. *Universal principles of design: 100
ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make
better design decisions, and teach through design. *
There is a two page summary of each principle, a few key references and
examples. Fun to read and the information is generally quite good.

The best sources for a good overview of a range of principles beyond visual
perception might be some of the classic graduate texts in human factors
like:

Wickens, C. D., Gordon, S. E., & Liu, Y. (1998). *An introduction to human
factors engineering.* New York, NY: Addison-Wesley (Longman Imprint).

There is the most recent major textbook on Human Factors Engineering and is
an excellent reference for general human factors topics. There is a chapter
on basic HCI, but the real value comes from chapters on vision, cognition,
decision-making, display and control principles (some of the basic research
here on memory, layout, compatibility, labeling, and alerting is quite
relevant to software design and usability). There are also some good review
chapters on stress and workload, human error, and selection and training
(EPSS, adaptive training, performance support).

Colin Ware's book is very good.

Ware, C. (2000). *Information visualization: Perception for design.* San
Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Ware does a masterful job describing the mechanisms of attention,
perception, and sensory physiology. Complex topics like chromaticity
coordinates, gestalt principles, and texture coding are explained clearly
without sacrificing rigor. This book explains many of the principles that
are behind user interface guidelines like "don't use red and blue together"
and "don't rely solely on color coding".

Chauncey

On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 8:46 PM, oliver green <oliverhci at gmail.com> wrote:

> Other than Gestalt's principles what are some common design principles
> that are based on human sensory perception (not just visual but also
> memory, auditory, haptic etc.?)
>
> Thanks,
> Oliver
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

6 Feb 2009 - 8:31am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 5 Feb 2009, at 18:07, suze ingram wrote:

> Oliver, take a look at Miller's working memory magical number 7
> theory http://www.musanim.com/miller1956/.

[begin rant - not aimed at anybody in particular]

Glad to see a link to the original paper - if more folk actually read
it there would be far less silliness quoted about 7+-2!

Far _far_ to make people seem to think that Miller's research applies
to things like the number of items in a menu, the number of tabs in a
window, and many other areas *completely* out of scope of the original
research.

People can, and do, process more than 7+-2 items of information every
day. See this letter from Miller http://members.shaw.ca/philip.sharman/miller.txt
. To quote miller the 7+-2 number only applies to "unidimensional
stimuli (pitches, loudness, brightness, etc.) and also a limit for
immediate recall".

Even that conclusion probably needs to be revised. Research on short
term memory has obviously moved on a fair bit since 1956. Millers
"immediate memory" concept has mutated several times, and other
experiments have shown that that the "magic" number is more likely to
be lower than 7+-2 (e.g. see http://tinyurl.com/2fpse for more recent
info).

Even ignoring the more recent research the original paper doesn't
warrant the conclusions that many people draw from it. It's very
specifically _not_ about limits to general information comprehension.

Some discussion on the various ways it has been misinterpreted can be
found at:

* http://www.ddj.com/184412300
* http://ronz.blogspot.com/2002_07_21_ronz_archive.html
* http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/sep00.asp
* http://www.internettg.org/newsletter/aug00/article_miller.html

Also see: J.L. Doumont "Magical Numbers: The Seven-Plus-or-Minus Two
Myth," (Interface) IEEE Trans. Prof. Comm., vol. 45, pp. 123-127, 2002.

[end rant]

:-)

Cheers,

Adrian

6 Feb 2009 - 11:38am
Katie Albers
2005

Go Adrian!

I've always found it particularly irritating when the Magic Number is
being quoted at me in reference to number of items in a menu, # of
tabs, and the like...where the reason for making these things visible
is to *avoid* cases where people need to rely on their working memory,
with all its limitations.

kt

Katie Albers
Founder & Principal Consultant
FirstThought
User Experience Strategy & Project Management
310 356 7550
katie at firstthought.com

On Feb 6, 2009, at 5:31 AM, Adrian Howard wrote:

>
> On 5 Feb 2009, at 18:07, suze ingram wrote:
>
>> Oliver, take a look at Miller's working memory magical number 7
>> theory http://www.musanim.com/miller1956/.
>
>
> [begin rant - not aimed at anybody in particular]
>
> Glad to see a link to the original paper - if more folk actually
> read it there would be far less silliness quoted about 7+-2!
>
> Far _far_ to make people seem to think that Miller's research
> applies to things like the number of items in a menu, the number of
> tabs in a window, and many other areas *completely* out of scope of
> the original research.
>
> People can, and do, process more than 7+-2 items of information
> every day. See this letter from Miller http://members.shaw.ca/philip.sharman/miller.txt
> . To quote miller the 7+-2 number only applies to "unidimensional
> stimuli (pitches, loudness, brightness, etc.) and also a limit for
> immediate recall".
>
> Even that conclusion probably needs to be revised. Research on short
> term memory has obviously moved on a fair bit since 1956. Millers
> "immediate memory" concept has mutated several times, and other
> experiments have shown that that the "magic" number is more likely
> to be lower than 7+-2 (e.g. see http://tinyurl.com/2fpse for more
> recent info).
>
> Even ignoring the more recent research the original paper doesn't
> warrant the conclusions that many people draw from it. It's very
> specifically _not_ about limits to general information comprehension.
>
> Some discussion on the various ways it has been misinterpreted can
> be found at:
>
> * http://www.ddj.com/184412300
> * http://ronz.blogspot.com/2002_07_21_ronz_archive.html
> * http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/sep00.asp
> * http://www.internettg.org/newsletter/aug00/article_miller.html
>
> Also see: J.L. Doumont "Magical Numbers: The Seven-Plus-or-Minus
> Two Myth," (Interface) IEEE Trans. Prof. Comm., vol. 45, pp.
> 123-127, 2002.
>
> [end rant]
>
> :-)
>
> Cheers,
>
> Adrian
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

9 Feb 2009 - 5:14pm
gretchen anderson
2005

Wow! Thanks for this. As someone who misunderstood the research, it's helpful. But this brings up a question for me:

Intuitively, 7+-2 *seems* to be a nice boundary for many instances (number of choices offered, groupings) and I'm curious if there is research that bears this out. I know the book about how too much choice actually paralyzes people from choosing. and personally, I do have problems when I am forced to peruse a big list to choose something.

Anything concrete from people? I think that the original research is misconstrued because it reinforces some design judgment/instict, and I wonder if there isn't something to that instinct.

Or maybe I just want to oversimplify. ;)

19 Feb 2009 - 12:37pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 9 Feb 2009, at 22:14, Gretchen Anderson wrote:

> Wow! Thanks for this. As someone who misunderstood the research,
> it's helpful. But this brings up a question for me:
>
> Intuitively, 7+-2 *seems* to be a nice boundary for many instances
> (number of choices offered, groupings) and I'm curious if there is
> research that bears this out. I know the book about how too much
> choice actually paralyzes people from choosing. and personally, I do
> have problems when I am forced to peruse a big list to choose
> something.
>
> Anything concrete from people? I think that the original research is
> misconstrued because it reinforces some design judgment/instict, and
> I wonder if there isn't something to that instinct.
>
> Or maybe I just want to oversimplify. ;)

A more relevant bit of research here might be the Hick–Hyman Law http://tinyurl.com/agvhnb
which talks about reaction time when presented with a number of items.

Again - people tend to over-generalise the research. Things like
having the choices in a known predicable order (e.g. an alphabetical
list of countries), or where different options are presented
differently (e.g. having the most common choice in a fixed position
and highlighted) will affect naive interpretations.

As with most things "it depends" :-)

Adrian

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