Learning the Technology People do not have any innate technological abilities or understanding Our experience using (related) physical devices, and similar software, shows us what to expect when faced with new technology Designers who create devices, including software, know about this experience and design products to match what we already know
The Desktop The screen image displayed when a PC starts up Colored or patterned background Information displayed on top, bottom, or side A metaphor Appearance and means of interaction suggest something familiar to us: physical desk and papers Work goes in files Files go in folders Tools (calculator, recorder) used to perform tasks Very successful, near universal now
GUI: Graphical User Interface Desktop is also an example of a GUI Graphical elements (pictures) used for user manipulation of information represented WIMP: windows, icons, menus, pointers New software today usually has a GUI Elements of the new GUI are familiar to us from earlier software GUIs Designers “reuse” concepts familiar to us so we can use the new systems more easily
Consistent Familiar Interfaces Designers reuse metaphors similarly When we see an icon or metaphor we have seen before, we know how it works Music or video player will use GUI icons that look like symbols on a physical player A new web browser (like Google Chrome) will look largely similar in form and function to older, existing browsers
Common GUI Elements Looking at the Chrome GUI we see several things we recognize from other browsers URL window, for specifying the page you wish to browse Content window, for displaying the web page Back “button” Reload button Several icons we don’t recognize… wrench, paper Star icon?
Unknown Icon? Hover. We are not sure what the “star” icon does Hovering is moving the mouse pointer over an icon but not clicking GUIs commonly will pop up a small balloon help message when hovering lasts a second or two This message briefly explains what function the icon provides Hovering over the “star” icon in the Chrome GUI tells that clicking it will bookmark the page We understand bookmarking from other browsers
Triangle Pointers No menu tabs as we expect from other browsers We do see unknown icons, and triangle pointers beside triangles indicate presence of hidden or alternative information Clicking on triangles in the Chrome GUI reveals menus grouped by major function “page” for file operations “wrench” for mechanics of browser operation
Common Menu Behavior Menus on the top bar are called pull-down or drop-down Mouse click reveals list of operations Sliding mouse down the list highlights items Clicking or releasing button on highlighted item causes computer to perform that operation Same operations may be available by icon on a toolbar Recently used functions may be shown clearly, and other available functions (or submenus) hidden and shown as triangle pointers
Standard Menu Functions Menu functions have become fairly standard across applications Grouped into menus based on similarity of items being manipulated File operations New, open, close, save, save as, print, exit Edit operations Undo, cut, copy, paste, select all, find, clear Many menu operations have keyboard shortcuts (non-GUI), for rapid access to heavily used functions
Exploring New GUI Features Not all elements of a new GUI will be familiar We use the GUI capabilities to learn it… hovering, triangle pointers, help, experimental clicks, undo Consider the “+” plus icon in the Chrome top bar Clicking it opens a blank content page and makes a tab for the new page in the bar Allows browsing several pages at one time, easily move from one to the other This may be unfamiliar, as older browsers did not do tabs, but we explore and learn
Summary: the Designer's Intent Software designers try to pick easy-to-understand user interfaces We can expect good software to be well crafted so we can "brain out" how it works We use this idea every time we use new software Experienced users look for familiar metaphors and learn new ones when they are encountered
Important General Concept:New Instance New menu item creates a "blank" instance What is blank information? Information is grouped into types based on properties Digital photographs are a type of information; length and width are among the properties Text documents are a type of information; length of document in characters is a property A blank instance is the structure of the information item, with no properties or content filled in A prudent user will Save As right away to specify a name and location for this new instance
Important General Concept:Expecting Feedback Feedback is any indication that the computer is still working, or has completed a task User should not be left wondering what is going on For editing change, proof of completion is that the revision is visible For button click, GUI shows highlighting, shading, color change or graying, audible click Hourglass or progress bar shows a long task is still underway
Learning New Software (step 1):"Clicking Around" A term for exploring a user interface Noting basic GUI features Checking each menu to see what operations are available Helps user figure out what operations are available without being taught Clicking around works because consistent metaphors and interfaces make new software predictable
Learning New Software (step 2):"Blazing Away" The next step after clicking around Assertively exploring features even without a clear idea of their functions Nothing will break: Only risk is losing time and having to re-start or reboot Remember the Undo operation Making mistakes is fine, you will learn from them Concentrate on operations related to whatever task needs to be done
Watching Others Complicated software systems usually have features that are not obvious, too advanced, or too specialized to learn by clicking around Shift-Select Operation Allows you to select adjacent pieces Control-Select Operation Allows you to select non-adjacent pieces Many obscure features, tricks, and shortcuts can be learned by watching others
Principle: Form Follows Function Fundamental operations of a software system and the way they work are determined by the task being solved GUIs may look different, but two software systems for the same task will have same basic operations and will work similarly “Glitz” of a GUI is superficial, task defines the underlying operations and their functions
Similar Applications, Similar Features Text processing applications all: Use a cursor to mark your place, backspace removes a character to the left Have operations for typing, deleting, selecting, copying, searching, replacing, etc. Two music players will look different, but both will open music streams, play them, pause, advance to future point, control volume, etc. Vendors compete with non-fundamental features convenience, speed, interaction with other systems, etc.
Take Advantage of Similarities Form follows function principle is important because: New versions of familiar software will share core functions, and many features and quirks of earlier versions When we must perform a familiar task with unfamiliar software, we are already experienced and familiar with its basic features When we are frustrated with one vendor's software, we can easily learn another
Illustrating Form Follows Function:Searching Text Using Find Text search, or find, is used in many applications such as word processors, browsers, e-mail readers, and operating/file systems Found under Edit or File menu (shortcut Ctrl-F) GUIs may look different, but the underlying concepts in searching will help up know what to expect in all of them Tokens are the things to be searched Single characters like letters, numbers, special symbols Composite items like dates
How Search is Done Computer searching starts at beginning of document or at current cursor position "Slide" the search string along the text At each position, look for token match If there is a match, the process stops and displays the found instance If there is no match, slide the search string one position along until found, or we hit the end of the text by the content of their character ^^^^^^^ content
Search Complications Case Sensitivity: Computer stores uppercase and lowercase letters as different characters Match only occurs when both the letters and the case are identical Search tools are case-sensitive in word processors but not necessarily in all applications User has the option to ignore case-sensitive capability This is often the default
Search Complications (cont'd) Hidden Text: There are two types of characters: keyboard characters typed by user, and formatting information added by the application Search generally ignores application's formatting tags Some systems allow user to search for formatted text such as italic.
Search Complications (cont'd) Substrings User may be looking for words, but the tokens are the characters in the word Search will turn up words that contain the search string (searching for "you" will turn up "your") Word processors usually have ability to search for whole words Multiword Strings Words are separated by spaces. If the number of spaces in the search string is different from the number in the text being searched, no match is found
Editing Text Using Substitution Search and replace combines searching and editing to make corrections to documents Useful for correcting all occurrences of search string Change "west coast" to "West Coast" Eliminate extra spaces Formatting text
Technology: Take It Personally We have learned we can expect intuitive interfaces To learn to use new software, we should ask ourselves: What do I have to learn about this software to do my task? What does the designer of this software expect me to know? What does the designer expect me to do? What metaphor is the software showing me? What additional information does the software need to do its task? Have I seen these operations in other software?
Take it Personally (Cont'd) Other questions you may ask yourself about Information Technology: Is there IT that I am not now using that could help me with my task? Am I more or less productive using this technological solution for my task? Can I customize the technology I'm using to make myself more productive? Have I assessed my uses of information technology recently?
Summary People are either taught new technology, or they explore and learn it We can figure out new software because designers use consistent interfaces, suggestive metaphors, and standard functionality We apply our previous experience to learn new applications In computer software if we make mistakes, nothing breaks
Summary We explore new applications by “clicking around” and “blazing away” We should watch other users, and ask questions Form follows function Searching and replacement are in many different GUIs but work consistently in all We should think personally about technology and apply general principles and ideas to become more expert users