by Elizabeth Buie (copyright notice)

This page provides some examples of HCI design recommendations that often appear in standards and that are based on human physical, cognitive, and affective characteristics.

Physical factors

Some of the recommendations in standards for software HCI are based on the physical attributes of human beings. (Hardware standards, on the other hand — screen reflectivity, for example, or the force required to press a key or mouse button — have a much stronger physical basis. This discussion addresses only software HCI.)

Here are two examples of physically based HCI recommendations:

Physically based recommendations tend to be stronger advice than cognitively or affectively based ones because the relevant characteristics vary less from person to person. You and I may have rather different likes or learning styles (you may even be a Windows fan, heaven help us!), but virtually everyone with normal color vision experiences chromostereopsis in looking at red on blue.

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Cognitive factors

There are so many recommendations based on cognitive factors that I had trouble deciding which ones to choose. Anyway, here are two:

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Affective factors

Affect (pronounced af'fect) is, essentially, subjective reaction. It includes emotions, values, preferences, satisfaction — all the stuff it's so hard for many of us to get a handle on. But if we want our users to be satisfied with our products, we have to pay attention to it. Here are two examples of recommendations based on considerations of user affect:

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This article was published in the March/April 1999 issue of interactions, the bimonthly magazine of ACM/SIGCHI. Copyright © 1997, 1998, Elizabeth Buie. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to print this page or link to it, as long as such use is personal or educational and is not for commercial gain or profit. This article may not be republished or redistributed without permission.
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