Considering the importance of user profiles in interface design
Book chapter, 2009
User profile is a popular term widely employed during product design processes by industrial companies. Such a profile is normally intended to represent real users of a product. The ultimate purpose of a user profile is actually to help designers to recognize or learn about the real user by presenting them with a description of a real user’s attributes, for instance; the user’s gender, age, educational level, attitude, technical needs and skill level. The aim of this chapter is to provide information on the current knowledge and research about user profile issues, as well as to emphasize the importance of considering these issues in interface design. In this chapter, we mainly focus on how users’ difference in expertise affects their performance or activity in various interaction contexts. Considering the complex interaction situations in practice, novice and expert users’ interactions with medical user interfaces of different technical complexity will be analyzed as examples: one focuses on novice and expert users’ difference when interacting with simple medical interfaces, and the other focuses on differences when interacting with complex medical interfaces. Four issues will be analyzed and discussed: (1) how novice and expert users differ in terms of performance during the interaction; (2) how novice and expert users differ in the perspective of cognitive mental models during the interaction; (3) how novice and expert users should be defined in practice; and (4) what are the main differences between novice and expert users’ implications for interface design. Besides describing the effect of users’ expertise difference during the interface design process, we will also pinpoint some potential problems for the research on interface design, as well as some future challenges that academic researchers and industrial engineers should face in practice.
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