Journals for Interaction Design

Journal#3 Comparison of and
October 23, 2007, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Comparison

Journal #3

News offers daily information for people, and the establishment of news web sites provides another new channel for audiences to immediately receive information. Both KING5 and KCPQ TV are local TV Stations in Seattle, which separately belongs to NBC and FOX. I would like to compare these two news sites by Shneiderman’s eight golden rules of interface design.

The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design were excerpted from the book of “Designing the User Interface” by Ben Shneiderman. To determine an application program is easy use or not, it depends on an appropriate interface design. Shneiderman proposed these principles by his ample experiences and delicate observations from interactive system. Here are the eight golden rules of interface design.

1. Strive for consistency.

Consistent sequences of actions should be required in similar situations.

2. Enable frequent users to use shortcuts.

As the frequency of use increases, so do the user’s desires to reduce the number of interactions and to increase the pace of interaction.

3. Offer informative feedback.

For every operator action, there should be some system feedback. For frequent and minor actions, the response can be modest, while for infrequent and major actions, the response should be more substantial.

4. Design dialog to yield closure.

5. Offer simple error handling.

6. Permit easy reversal of actions.

This feature relieves anxiety, since the user knows that errors can be undone; it thus encourages exploration of unfamiliar options.

7. Support internal locus of control.

Experienced operators strongly desire the sense that they are in charge of the system and that the system responds to their actions. Design the system to make users the initiators of actions rather than the responders.

8. Reduce short-term memory load.

The limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that display be kept simple, multiple page be consolidated, window-motion frequency by reduced, and sufficient training time be alloted for codes, memories, and sequences of actions.

Now, I want to focus on some rules to analyze these two sites.


Their news is tailored for viewers 40+ years old, Also, their news is rated in Seattle as the best newscast for quick reporting and offering a wider view on certain topics. For example, they would produce debates during political seasons and health bulletin board during any outbreaks.


At the first glance of this site, I was easily distracted by the ads of the left side of the home page; however, after I browsed it, I found that it is user-centric and has a friendly interface. First of all, the navigation is on the top instead on the left side. No matter the user is a right-hander or a left-handed person, the layout won’t bother them. Besides, when I access to the sub-category, the sub-menu will show on the left side in order to tell me the locus and makes me won’t be lost in the web site.


Secondly, the interface is simple and organized. According to the 2nd rule–enable frequent users to use shortcuts, “as the frequency of use increases, so do the user’s desires to reduce the number of interactions and to increase the pace of interaction.” The sub-menu is “hiding” below each category, when users need it, it will pop out. The interface design not only “reduce” unnecessary shortcut, but also organize and categorize the information well, allowing users to access it comfortably and confidentially.

Besides, users can get informative feedback. Those operator actions that users usually so such as accessing to news, weather, and traffic and so forth, users can directly access it with one-click; on the contrary, some functions that users infrequently use takes then more effort to achieve the goal. For instance, if you want to put the headline on you own web site from, you have to sign first, and then you could do next.

Further, it definitely allows users to reverse actions. When I applied for the’s membership, I forgot to confirm my email address again, so I went back to the previous page, double-checked it, and then continued to the next step. Every action could be reversal. “This feature relieves anxiety, since the user knows that errors can be undone; it thus encourages exploration of unfamiliar options.”

Moreover, due to the 8th rule–“the limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that display be kept simple”, users could not memorize how to acquire the information if they access the site again, so the layout and interface have to be easy to use and clear. Nonetheless, if the information is too converted to be found, users will feel annoyed when they go back to the site. Fortunately, when I accessed the next time, I was able to immediately recover the travel information that I discovered last time. The interface design really reduce users’ short-term memory load.

About the interactive ways including one-way e-mailing and two-way method, and social networking feature such as blogging, are collected into the “Interactive” section. User can be the reporter. I can provide the news to KING5 in many ways such as sending text e-mails, sending video clips and photos via my cell phone, or directly uploading videos and photos to them. Through generating content to KING5 online, users feel more interactive and dominant when visiting the web site.

2. KCPQ TV–Q13

For this newscast, their news and audience is tailor more towards the college crowd and junior executives (21-40). The reason is due the stories they tend report on and the background music is tend to be top 40.


The first impression of is “chaotic”. The terminology of the navigation is not consistent. For instance, “Q It Up Sports” and “My Q2” sound great but are not accordant with other vocabulary of navigation neither not professional enough. Also, the sub-menu is revealed; they are not hidden and disorganized. For example, the sub-menu belongs “Site Feature” could be concealed and pop out when users want to use it.


Furthermore, the information and the interface are neither well-categorized nor organized. At the time I click the button of “News”, I only see the “topic” with a paragraph of content of each piece of news. If I want to particularly read political news, it takes a while to sort out by myself. Besides, the dynamic advertising on the top of the home page disturbs me when I want to press the button on the top navigation. Sometimes I feel annoyed and frustrated to browse

In addition, according to the 7th rule–support internal locus of control, I didn’t intensely desire the sense that I’m in charge of interacting with this web site; on the contrary, I’m more like a responder. However, there are still advantages. I like the weather feature, which allows me to know the temperature and weather at the first sight of visiting the site. Moreover, the layout of the online streaming TV lets me concentrate on watching the news on it.

To sum up, the interface design of is superior to’s. The resources of are more organized, professional and informational; on the other hand, gives audiences a more entertaining impression, and there are still some functions should be improved. If I were an online news audience, I would rather obtain the information from than from, because I’ll be lost in KCPQ’s news site.


Interaction with 2nd generation iPod nano
October 17, 2007, 7:40 am
Filed under: Interaction

Journal #2

The iPod marked by Apple Inc has been the leading product in the market of portable digital audio player for couple years; however, I was looking forward to seeing the advent of red iPod in the past few years. Finally, due to market demand and Product Red initiative, it launched in October, 2006. For each red iPod nano sold in the United States, Apple donates US$10 to the red campaign to fight AIDS in Africa.[1]hat urged me to buy one at once.



The major reason to buy an iPod nano is that I can listen to the music everywhere and anytime, and it absolutely helps me kill the time when I am bored. Besides, there is some extra functions increase iPod’s additional value. Which functions I use mostly?

●Playing music.
The iPod nano is a mid-range iPod, which combines features of both the iPod shuffle and iPod classic. A 4GB iPod can contain 1,000 songs, and this capacity is appropriate for me because I have a lot fond albums, but 30GB is too large for me and it seems like a portable hard device instead of an audio player. The keypad of iPod nano is designed as a wheel, and users can select the features by slipping the click wheel and then pressing it to operate the function. My favorite feature is “shuffle”, which plays my songs randomly; however,
when I listen to a fond song and want to stop the shuffle function in order to go through the whole album, I have to press one time to go back to main menu, and then press the central button four times to find that album. If I could stop the shuffle function with one click, it will help me a lot. The 3r generation iPod nano solves this problem. Users can stop the shuffle function by clicking the central button. That encourages me to get a new one, but the fatty shape discourages me to do that.

Besides listening to music, I also play the games when waiting. There are four build-in games: brick, music quiz, parachute and solitaire. I totally have no idea how to solitaire so I give it up. The easiest game is music quiz. There will show multiple choices for the current playing song. In the same way, users can slip the wheel to select the right answer and press the central button. Thus no matter which direction my thumb is on the click wheel,
it won’t bother me to click the right answer because the button is at the middle.

Mobile secretary.

–Multiple time zone clocks.

Because I don’t wear a watch, I have to check time via my cell phone. However, when I take a plane, I cannot turn on my cell phone and I’ll lose my time! Fortunately, there is a multiple time zone clock function in the iPod nano. I can set up the time in Seattle, New York and Taiwan. I feel comfortable during the process of setting: click middle button twice to get the time, or click three times to set it up!

-Check schedule.

Also, the calendar is under extra function: extra->calendar. I can know the date on the next month by pressing the right side of the wheel, and check the date by slipping the white wheel.

●Sleep timer. Extra->clock->time->sleep timer->setting
This is also my favorite function. I like to listen to iPod nano when I sleep, so it’s important that iPod can turn off itself automatically after I fall asleep. Nonetheless, this function hides below the clock setting function so I hardly find this sleep timer function when I want to access it again. It is better that this function is independent under extra feature, thus I could easily set up the turn-off time when I want to reach this function.

During the whole process of achieving my goals, mostly I feel comfortable of using that without difficulty, and I also experienced using a hi-tech and delicate product. The design of the click wheel and central button simplify the shape and interface, letting the iPod nano is easy to use. In addition, “the surface of the click wheel is slightly textured, and the central button is slightly concave, allowing greater tactile feedback for out-of-sight operation.”[1] In my opinion, the design with user-centric concept abridges the gulf of execution as well as gulf the evaluation, because my use experience of iPod nano tallies with Norman’s statement. “The gulf of evaluation is small when the system provides information about its state in a form that is easy to get, is easy to interpret, and matches the way the person thinks of the system” (Norman 1988: p. 51). However, the click wheel is not always smooth and the battery’s lifespan is not long enough, they are two flaws of 2nd generation nano. Is 3rd generation iPod nano better than 2nd one? We will see!


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<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–> Lev Grossman (200509-12). Stevie’s Little Wonder. Time. Retrieved on 200610-03.


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“Please press 1″…or “Say English”?—Interactive Voice Response Analysis
October 10, 2007, 12:34 am
Filed under: Technology




Journal #1

Human beings’ demands caused innovation; and the innovations facilitate human life and satisfy the needs of people. There are many interaction designs around. Everyday we rely on these designs to solve our problems and acquire knowledge. I think a properly designed product is to simplify the complexity of solving-problem process, and achieve the goal without wasting time and energy. In short, the design should be based on easy-usage—easy to learn, and easy to execute. Redundant design would confuse users. It is all the designers’ fault and those designs would be improper and useless.

For some reasons and experiences, I would like to explore about the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) as the topic. “In telephony, interactive voice response (IVR) is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information and routes calls to the appropriate recipient. An IVR system (IVRs) accepts a combination of voice telephone input and touch-tone keypad selection and provides appropriate responses in the form of voice, fax, callback, e-mail and perhaps other media. The IVR system can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct callers on how to proceed. IVR systems can be used to control almost any function where the interface can be broken down into a series of simple menu choices.” [1]

Because I had to deal with my cell phone account, I called T-Mobile customer center and then was greeted by a natural voice: “If you want to listen to English, say English.” and I definitely said “English” without thinking; after that, the “agent” asked me “what service do you need today?” but I paused for a sec, and finally I answered “account” and tried to get response from it; however, this “conversation” ended up because I could not access my account via phone call, so I asked to switch to a live agent readily. Based on my experience, though speech technology is more advanced than touch-tone keypresses, for some inactive customers, it’s more convenient for them to get “options” from the IVR and then press the keypad to obtain the confirmation of their action. Thus, I would like to focus on the pros and cons between touch-tone keypresses (DTMF) and natural language speech recognition system.

Speech recognition technology contains Artificial Intelligence concept that makes it workable to recognize a broader range of expressions and learning from experience. Nonetheless, the natural language speech recognition tech is not widely used by companies and business. I think there are some limitations of speech recognition system:

1) Cost. The equipment is more expensive than touch-tone system. Besides, it takes to train the software to capture and recognize callers’ utterances.

2) Accuracy. Average, the natural language speech recognition system could capture 2,500 utterances[2]; however, other pessimistic users, like Bern Elliot, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said that “Normally, the success rate is 25%, rising to 45% or 50% if you put effort into it.” “If you work at it and motivate people, you might get to 70%, but that is the exception rather than the rule” he added.

Though, according to Lamont Wood’s article “Talking to machines: Interactive voice response gets better”, Bob Meisel explained that “Speech recognition accuracy is not an issue, since the system can prompt for clarification if it’s confused.” Moreover, according to Wikipedia, “most commercial companies states that recognition software can achieve between 98% to 99% accuracy if operated under controlled conditions.”

Lynda Smith, division manager at Nuance Communications Inc. in Burlington, Mass, claimed that “compared to the touch-tone IVRs, the use of speech recognition system reduces misdirected calls by up to 50%.” In my opinions, speech recognition system simplifies the application menu-structure, and can abridge callers’ time: they don’t have to listen all of options and make choice. Further, callers feel more interactive when doing self-service applications, because it sounds like you are talking with a “live agent”! Besides, callers don’t have to put down the phone to press keypad for making choice. They can just say a term and then obtain what they want.

Nonetheless, based on my personal experience, the accuracy of speech recognition is not always so high. I think the ideal system is to combine both touch-tone and natural language speech recognition system. It is more efficient to apply speech recognition when the IVRs ask “Yes or No” questions; however, if callers have to provide information related to numbers such as account number, it is better allow callers to use keypresses. Actually, most companies utilize partial IVRs now and it much benefits both customers and companies.

Even though those innovations assist human beings in their daily life, criticism always arose. Some people think that IVRs is unhelpful for usage and hard to use because of poor design and not meeting callers’ needs. A well-designed IVR system should immediately meet callers’ demand and with a minimum of complication. For me, the innovation of IVR indeed improves the efficiency on solving problems and facilitates both operators and callers’ usage; yet, I would prefer the lowest level of IVR (touch-tone system) than the speech recognition system when I call to calling center.





October 5, 2007, 3:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is Kai-Chen Lin, from Taiwan, and the second year student of MCDM at UW.

Welcome to share your ideas and opinions with me. 🙂