Psychology of Design (PoD) Laboratory

Intuitive Design

Intuitiveness resolves interaction ambiguity. One important question in the design literature is: How does a designer create an interface that affords certain actions? One method is to replicate naturally occurring characteristics within the interface design. For example, 3-D buttons that have shadows afford pushing because they have visual characteristics indicating that they can be pushed. But, this direct mapping between natural and virtual environments does not always best support the user’s needs and may, in many cases, be impossible. Currently, designers are forced to depend on their own intuitions about what actions an interface affords. Our ongoing research outlines the cognitive nature of perceived affordances within the context of design (Still & Dark, 2010; 2013). We have suggested that perceived affordances may arise from conventional interactions. Conventional interactions can become like affordances when the user interaction experiences are consistent; over time those experiences are stored in long-term memory structures that can be accessed effortlessly and without awareness (i.e., they become automatic processes). We advocate that this cognitive conceptualization of perceived affordances provides a deeper understanding of how an affordance may arise and influence the cognitive system. Although perceived affordances and conventions may be intuitive for users, it is difficult to determine what is already intuitive to them. With many options available for eliciting that knowledge, we tested the effectiveness of two methods of capturing intuitive interactions – performance and reflection (Still, Still, & Grgic, 2015). The lab presented users with simple interactions that had varying levels of intuitiveness (affordance, convention, bias) and they were asked to perform a task and to describe how the interaction should be designed. The methods of knowledge elicitation produced inconsistent results; sometimes both methods produced the same result (affordances), sometimes they produced the opposite (conventions). This shows that that the method used to elicit knowledge should be selected based on the type of interaction that is being investigated. In addition, we found that the traditional recommendation to use multiple measures should be used with caution because large carry-over effects were observed.

Which input mapping is more intuitive?





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