Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces - Vol. 1

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Mental effort and evaluation of user-interfaces: a
questionnaire approach

Albert G. Arnold
Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management
Delft University of Technology
De Vries van Heystplantsoen 2
2628 RZ Delft
Tel: +31 15 2783752
Fax: +31 15 2782950
a.g.amold@wtm.tudelft.n1


1
Introduction

'A newspaper published an article about a Dutch university. This university provided to its students access to INTERNET and other applications. From the article it becomes clear that the quality of the students' products did not really increase, but they achieved their goals with less effort. Therefore it was concluded that all these electronic gadgets did not make a difference.'

In our view this is a wrong conclusion! The mere fact that products with the same quality were produced with less user effort can be seen as a real benefit. From a work psychological perspective the performance of users should only be considered in combination with the effort users invest ( Arnold, 1998). This is important because users are capable of achieving high levels of performance even with a user-unfriendly system if they are motivated to a high degree. However, the costs (in terms of user effort expenditure) of achieving these high levels of performance in a sub-optimal software environment might be quite high.

More specific, computer systems should accommodate the user's cognitive, perceptual, and motoric processes in such a way that the user's work activities are supported or facilitated ( Roe, 1984; 1988). Herewith, the concept of action facilitation is introduced. Action facilitation may be operationalised as follows: 'An interactive computer system is said to facilitate user actions if its system

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