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


Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment Comments | Teaching Materials


Designing expressive interfaces

An interesting article by Aaron Marcus and Eugene Chen on designing affective personalities for 'baby face' devices (wireless devices with small displays) can be found in interactions magazine, Vol IX.1, entitled 'Designing the PDA of the Future'. One of their ideas is a device called Mob-i, designed to have an engaging and expressive personality. A set of icons that represent different moods and states (e.g. thinking, excited, alert) appears at the top of the PDA screen and changes according to what it is doing. Mob-i's personality is supposed to make users more attached to their PDAs and if they get fed up with the one they currently have they can always download another!

User frustration

There is some software called Bugtoaster that you can download onto your computer that records and reports every time your computer crashes. It provides various statistics, including information about which software applications crash most often.


Brenda Laurel has written a paper called 'In Defense of Anthropomorphism' which was first delivered at ACM SICGHI'92 as part of a panel between Susan Brennan, Ben Shneiderman and herself.

If you are interested in some of the provocative ideas behind Reeves and Nass's approach to interaction design, start by looking at a one-day course they and their colleagues put together on "Experiments in Voice User Interfaces".

Interface agents

The agentry is a definitive collection of Microsoft agents and agent materials.

A number of interesting short magazine articles on all kinds of topics concerned with agents can be found here, written by a variety of authors, some of whom are well-known in the field.

For a discussion of issues and crucial notions to do with agents see the article written by Lenny Foner.

Miss Boo now appears as a sales agent for a shopping mall portal. She is not as prominent as she used to be.

Also take a look at the website on Rea, the embodied agent being developed at MIT.