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Foundations of Computer Science: Human-Computer Interaction

Written By: Saniya Kalamkar



Human-computer interaction, also known as HCI, is an integral part of computer science today. Although it started off concerned with only computers, HCI now covers a vast majority of information technology today and is a crucial part of our modern day life. It is present everywhere, from vending machines, Siri, and self-driving cars. Efficient HCI designs are not only more user friendly, but are crucial to the success of many software products.

HCI is concerned with optimizing the interactions between users and computers by designing better computer interfaces and is a multidisciplinary field that covers computer science, cognitive science, psychology, and design. 


Key Parts of HCI

User

The user can be an individual or group of individuals that are participating in their common task. Efficient HCI technology takes into account the user’s needs, goals, and interaction patterns in order to give them the best experience possible when interacting with the computer systems.


Interface

The primary goal of HCI is to make it as user-friendly as possible, so the interface is a crucial part of HCI, as it can alter a user’s experience dramatically. Different sensory interactions (such as touch, voice, click, etc.) must be considered in addition to details like display size, text size and font, and screen resolution.


Context

When designing a computer system, there are factors that must be considered when making it. These factors include poor network connection or the type of device accessing the system that can affect the impression the user has about the system. 


Usability

Usability is key to HCI and ensures that computer systems are easy to learn and use. More specifically, however, useable systems are: 

  • Easy to learn and use - the computer system must be user-friendly and the instructions on how to use it should be easy to remember for future use

  • Effective - the system must be high performing and successfully perform the tasks it needs to do 

  • Efficient - the computer system must use the minimum amount of resources while the actions of it are as accurate as possible

  • Safe - the user should be protected from dangerous or unpleasant situations. This could include protecting the user from pressing buttons accidentally that cause irreversible damage or changes

  • Enjoyable - the computer system should always be designed with the user’s enjoyability in mind



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