Know Your User or Client

The journey into the world of interface design and the screen design process must begin with an understanding of the system user, the most important part of any computer system. The user needs a system that is built to serve. Understanding people and what they do is a difficult and often undervalued process but very critical because of the gap in knowledge, skills, and attitudes existing between system users and developers that build the systems. To create a truly usable system, the designer must always do the following:

  • Understand how people interact with computers.
  • Understand the human characteristics important in design.
  • Identify the user's level of knowledge and experience.
  • Identify the characteristics of the user's needs, tasks, and jobs.
  • Identify the user's psychological characteristics.
  • Identify the user's physical characteristics.
  • Employ recommended methods for gaining understanding of users.

Understanding How People Interact with Computers

To begin, the human action cycle and how people interact with computers will be described. Then some characteristics of computer systems past and present that have caused, and are causing, people problems will be discussed. Finally, the effect these problems have will be reviewed.

The Human Action Cycle

The human action cycle is a psychological model that describes how people interact with computer systems. It was presented by Norman (1988) and adapted by Stone et al. (2005), whose model is the basis ...

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