by Interactive Examples
Hartmut Wandke, Jens Hüttner
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fak. II
Institut für Psychologie, Kognitive Ergonomie / Ingenieurpsychologie
Oranienburger Str. 18, D-10178 Berlin, Germany
Phone: ++49 30 285 165 245/244 (sect.) - Fax: ++49 30 282 40 46
The demands currently being made on modern, ergonomical software as a work tool cannot be sufficiently handled by the usual sources in software programming, i.e. by the intuition and common sense of the software designer, Software determines just how much of a cooperative and communicative partner the computer's "behavior" will be. Clearly this "soft-tool" for the work place must therefore be made to fit human possibilities and needs. "Job design of computeraided work is thus to a great extent software design, i.e. the design of the userinterface component of the software that is relevant for the job" ( Hacker, 1989). However, the designers of computer-aided work tend to be software designers specialized in computer programming and not specialists trained in work science or work psychology. Software-ergonomic knowledge could therefore form a very necessary and basic supplement for designers of user-interfaces, who due to their specialization have a very different perspective on the problems of software development.
In a number of questionnaire surveys over the past 8 years we have ascertained the software-ergonomic knowledge of designers in software companies (e.g., Hüttner & Wandke, 1993). The significance of user-friendliness was recognized by all the questioned software designers; 50% of those asked estimated that at least 30% of the total product development was dedicated to the user-interface. However, they barely had any basic knowledge of it, and relied for the most part on their intuition and personal experience when programming. Selected extracts from the results of these surveys are given below.