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The concept of human and computer interaction is concerned with the various ways a user communicates or interacts with a computer system. The common type’s human and computer interactions are use of command language, menu selection, direct manipulation, and filling in form. These styles of interactions can be described as the medium of communication between the machine and the human being, in this case the user.
The way people interact with devices defines their success, with many up coming technologies, with increased processing power, the way the technology interacts with the user is very vital. There is a general perception that most users are not that technologically savvy to understand the complexities associated with computers. People depending on the demographic variables, culture, situational context, and the expected goal use many computing devices. These computing devices include mobile phones, PDAs, and other hand held devices (Benyon, 2001).
There are many types of hand held mobile phones available in the market possessing different applications ranging from multimedia, texting, voice calls, gaming, and many other types of applications. The way the user will interact with this form of technology will definitely affect whether the user will like it or not. Apparently, interaction techniques are limited with the available technology. Users will always choose a use a device with a user friendly interface.
Command language or command entry was the first method of computer human interaction style to be used, and is still being used in certain situations. The main operating systems that applied this style Linux and UNIX. In this particular style the user have to type in the commands and parameters at the command line for that particular command to be executed. In this style the user had to know all the required commands and parameters by heart, therefore it placed a lot of cognitive burden on the user to remember all the needed commands. This style thus relied a lot on the users’ memory to be able to recall the commands by their names. It is not very easy to learn all the commands
This style involves the fill-in in of forms, and is not targeted to expert users as in command style. The user interface is form based, in which all the data can be entered in the predefined form fields. Validation of the data input was enabled by a separation mode. This style is still in use today, mainly combined by other styles, especially for those tasks that need a lot of data entry. For example pay roll systems, financial systems software, video rental software, and many other types of systems and software that is data entry oriented.
Menu selection gives the user a set of options which are displayed on the screen, where the user can select the desired menu to execute a command. Once the selection has been done and the command executed, the cascade changes the state of the interface. Here, the user selects a command from the predefined command options available on the menu list. In most cases a group of related commands are put near each other for ease of selection, identification, and use. Users do not have to learn or memorize the commands to be able to execute them, provided the commands are arranged in an orderly manner. These menus are generally arranged or clustered in a pop up or pull down menus (Bøgh, 2001)
Direct manipulation is the latest form of computer interaction with humans. In this style the of directly manipulating an object of interest is entailed, this implies that the object of interest is represented as a unique object in the user interface, and then manipulated directly. This interaction style posses the following characteristics: visibility of the object of interest; rapid, reversible, and incremental actions; replacement of complex commands language syntax by direct manipulation of objects of interest. For example dragging and dropping files in say windows explorer (de Haan, 2000).
Analysis of Interaction Styles
These different interaction styles have their advantages and disadvantages. A user will prefer a particular method depending on its usability, benefits, implementation, and the implications of the tool being represented. Adaptability of a particular style is exemplified by the use cases of the navigation systems available in the mobile phone, and the differences in the interaction behaviors depends on the users attitude, preference, skill, and cultural values.
The reasons why a user would prefer the command language interaction style on his or her mobile phone are; the style is flexible as only the require command is inputted. The style appeals to expert users, it supports the use of macros that supports the creation of user defied commands or scripts, in cases where there is low bandwidth it is very useful for interacting with computers that are networked.
The style does not appeal to most users since retention of commands in the human memory is always very poor. It takes a long time and effort to learn all the required commands, and a high rate of making errors is always registered. It is definitely not suitable for users who are not experts; error messages and assistance are very hard to be provided in this interaction style. This is because of the diversities and complexities of relating the various tasks to the interface concepts and syntaxes.
This interaction style simplifies data entry to a great deal, and shortens the learning time of commands found in the command style. The fields are always predefined and the user only needs to recognize it and not to memorize it. The system also guides the user through the data entry exercise. This style does not lack disadvantages such as consuming screen space, and it is very rigid as it is set for a much formalized busine.............
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