Authors: Preece, Rogers & Sharp
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Understanding How Interfaces Affect Users


Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment Comments | Teaching Materials


An overarching goal of interaction design is to develop interactive systems that elicit positive responses from users, such as feeling at ease, being comfortable, and enjoying the experience of using them. More recently, designers have become interested in how to design interactive products that elicit specific kinds of emotional responses in users, motivating them to learn, play, be creative, and be social. There is also a growing concern with how to design websites that people can trust, that make them feel comfortable about divulging personal information or making a purchase.

We refer to this newly emerging area of interaction design as affective aspects. In this chapter we look at how and why the design of computer systems cause certain kinds of emotional responses in users. We begin by looking in general at expressive interfaces, examining the role of an interface's appearance on users and how it affects usability. We then examine how computer systems elicit negative responses, e.g., user frustration. Following this, we present a debate on the controversial topic of anthropomorphism and its implications for designing applications to have human­like qualities. Finally, we examine the range of virtual characters designed to motivate people to learn, buy, listen, etc., and consider how useful and appropriate they are.

The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Explain what expressive interfaces are and the affects they can have on
  • Outline the problems of user frustration and how to reduce them.
  • Debate the pros and cons of applying anthropomorphism in interaction
  • Assess the believability of different kinds of agents and virtual characters.
  • Enable you to critique the persuasive impact of e­commerce agents on customers.