Alan Cooper访谈 3

huoji 2004-06-11 12:54:27
IV. Interface Design is not Interaction Design

AC If you have a good design rationale, if you know that people are going to be searching for information in this place and this is an appropriate way to present choices to them and all other things being equal then presenting it in a cool way - I'm all for it - but there are all sorts of cool things which are cool the first time but the 10th time you use them, you hate them. So what you have to do is to say, "Who is going to use it?", "Is this going to be used by somebody once?" You can do cool stuff in a kiosk that someone is going to walk up to once and use just that once. That's OK.

If someone is going to sit down in front of it and use it 10 times per day for the next 3 years then you have got to get that "cool stuff" out of there because it's just going to get in the way.

We believe that good design is self-evident.

So that you can look at it and say, "Yeah. That is superior"

If you as a developer do not see that it's superior then you are probably not going to build it. Regardless of what rationale or what orders you are given from management.

DJA I'd like to explore this point that good design is self evident. I often wonder whether the general public are able to follow when designers make a leap forward rather than just a minor increment. Their initial reaction to such radical changes is often negative because they are conservative and don't understand.

I wondered if you followed the debate about the development of the Swing Look and Feel ?

AC I confess that I didn't follow it.

DJA To give you some background, the Organic L&F tried to follow advice from Don Norman and Edward Tufte. It was a very flat and clean looking design. No 3D. Minimal on screen clutter. The approach was arguably the better and more promising design but it was too radical. What Sun ended up with was Metal, which was kind of a compromise Windows look with Sun Corporate colors.

AC I don't consider that Interaction Design. Look and Feel stuff is Interface Design. It's all very stylistic. It's the color that you paint your walls. Interaction Design is about the Architecture. It's what kind of building are we building. What functions does it support. What are the shapes of the rooms and the walls and ceilings. What is the infrastructure. What kind of elevators. What kind of cooling and heating. That's Interaction Design.

Jerry Weinberg wrote about this a long time ago in "The Psychology of Computer Programming". What language is best? The language that you like best! So what's the best indentation method? The indentation method that you like best. And what's the best L&F? The L&F that you like best.

This just doesn't address the significant issue, which is Interaction Design! What does it [ the system ] do? How does it communicate? How does it behave? These are the fundamental issues.

Let's look at database queries. You issue a query to a database. It hands you back a solution set. This is a technology that's known. What we do is that we debate about how to have little dialog boxes to submit queries and display solution sets. That is interface design!

People generally don't ask fundamental questions like "In a situation, where I have a particular User, who is trying to accomplish a task, who is trying to achieve a goal, what are the appropriate methods of information retrieval for that person?" Would it be a query and solution set as the way to solve the problem. That is an Interaction Design question. It's one that is not often asked. But is the type of question that we ask here [at Cooper Interaction Design]. It's a very very different approach than asking "What should the dialog box look like".

V. Interaction Design is Architecture

DJA So this is the key point about Interaction Design - it's Architecture - and everything else is merely Interior Decoration or Construction?

AC Yes. Yet the word Architecture is problematic. To come back to the database example, the query and solution set is based on setting a series of arguments for the search and then returning a subset of records that satisfy the arguments. This is the classic query and it's the reasonable thing to do if you're doing Operational Data Processing. If you're a human being who is trying to make sense of that Fire Hose of data coming at you, that query may in fact be obscuring the answer. This is the search engine problem where you get 4 million hits and you refine it down and you get 800,000 hits and you refine it down and you get 50,000 hits and you narrow it down and you get no hits.

The query tool is a very powerful one if you are trying to match invoices with purchase orders but it's a very poor tool when you have a human being who is trying to find out about adverse toxic reactions between drugs when intermixed.

DJA Right! So it's Technology rather than the Goal.

I guess I've written about my own experience with the Seat Reservation System on Air New Zealand [Sept99]. The problem there was the optimistic locking mechanism in the database and how that exposed itself in the interface. I realize that you've written about this too and Seat Reservation Systems seem to be a pet hate or yours?

AC [laughing] Yeah, Seat Reservation Systems have been around a long time and they are a great resource but they are the kind of thing that only a trained user can use effectively. If you've had the experience of talking with a travel agent, you clearly get the sense that the travel agent is not finding the right stuff for you. Well that's a clear indication that they don't know how to work the travel system, not because they don't understand the travel business.

The point is that, if you are a Visual Designer, or if you are an HCI Professional, or even programmers you tend to approach things from the point of view of saying, what are the technological tools at your disposal. You say, Oh, I have a relational database. Therefore, I can issue a query and I can get back, in a batch mode, a solution set of a reduced number of choices.

You might have a real world situation where you have someone who walks into a library and searches based on a Dewey Decimal Categorization System number and then wants to see a list of related books. The query system fundamentally disallows this.

There is this whole class of human behavior which is not supported by the relational database query paradigm.

I'm not saying that this is a bad paradigm but pretty much all data retrieval in computer systems is based on that relational database query and solution set model. Because it's easy, programmers say, "Well that's how you do it" and it never occurs to them to ask whether this is the way that people want to look for information.

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2004-06-11 12:54