Human-computer Interaction: An Overview

Human-computer interaction makes technology more accessible in a digital world. Learn how people interact with computers. Evolve from ease-to-use to a user-friendly approach.


In recent years, the digital world has experienced incredible leaps and bounds in technology, from 3D printers and voice-controlled devices to virtual and augmented reality.

An easier way to deploy a system demands significant technology to build it. The successful technology results in easiness through which users can interact. If the user interface is difficult, users will ignore the product/technology. A systematic study to explore human-computer interaction is called human-computer interaction.

This article explains the concept of human-computer interaction along with its design and benefits.

What is Human-computer Interaction (HCI)?

Human-Computer Interaction is a socio-technological discipline making the power of computers and communications systems both accessible and pragmatic across users’ working, learning, communicating, and recreational lives.

In simple terms, human-computer interaction is an interdisciplinary field studied by researchers from varied disciplines, including computer science, psychology, information science, management information systems, and human factors engineering.

Fundamentally, HCI aims at interfaces between users and computers in its research on the design and utility of computer technology. Researchers study how people interact with computers and build technologies enabling them to connect with computers in unique ways in the HCI domain.

The overall goal is to achieve and maintain the efficacy and efficiency of both companies and individual users. Specific to HCI’s objectives, ensure the system’s functionality and useability, i.e., provide effective user interaction support and enhance a pleasant user experience. However, to meet these objectives, managers, and developers must be knowledgeable to understand how users, tasks, task contexts, information technology (IT), and the environments interact internally and externally.

In addition, some considerations are followed while studying or designing an HCI system:

  • Distinct users construct distinct conceptions of mental models regarding their interactions, and they have different ways of learning and maintaining knowledge and abilities, which is an essential HCI element (different "cognitive styles" as in, for example, "left-brained" and "right-brained" people).

  • Another factor to consider when studying or developing HCI is that user interface technology continually evolves and provides new interaction possibilities to which prior research is not applicable. Consequently, users' preferences shift as they gain new experiences.

Benefits of Human-computer Interaction

In earlier days of computer technology, only highly skilled experts could use computers as these were very large, expensive devices used across industries and research. But now, computers are ubiquitous, and different users have a wide range of expertise and experience.

HCI is critical while building intuitive systems for people with extensive capabilities and expertise. HCI makes software/devices more understandable and accessible for everyone and builds clear, intuitive, and natural interaction in the following ways:

Daily Life

Computers have become part and parcel of everyday life; even if users don’t employ computers directly, their lives get affected by computing somehow. Some examples of computer interfaces include ATMs, train ticket selling machines, hot beverage vending machines, and more with which people regularly interact without having computers. When creating such systems or interfaces, HCI is imperative whether designing an interface for an ATM or a desktop computer. HCI principles should be examined and considered to ensure that the interface is safe, usable, and efficient.

Business and Industry

HCI is a significant aspect for companies using computers in everyday business operations. Well-designed interfaces/systems ensure that employees become more productive and efficient.

HCI is particularly crucial in designing safety-critical systems such as power plants and air traffic control centers. HCI is beneficiary in some circumstances; for example, design flaws can have significant consequences, including the death of many individuals.

Accessibility

HCI is a critical consideration when designing serviceable and accessible systems for individuals with disabilities. HCI's primary principle is to provide secure, convenient, and proficient systems that include individuals embracing different abilities, competence, and knowledge.

Any system designed explicitly for HCI-based user-centered methodologies and concepts will be accessible to people with impairments.

Software Success

An implication of HCI principles and techniques is critical for end-users and organizational software development. If a software product remains unusable and irritant, users will not choose the software by choice, and as a result, sales will be impacted adversely.

Untrained Users

Even today, very few computer users read the software manuals. Only specialized and advanced programs necessitate training and a handbook to understand the functionality and useability of computer programs in certain times of interaction with the software. HCI equips designers with the principles, strategies, and resources required to create effective, user-friendly interfaces that don't need training.

HCI for Future

The digital landscape is experiencing a revolution in computer/communication systems, information technology, etc., along with implications of advanced technologies. The revolution is propelled by the low-cost, mass-produced computer processors and memory chips and inexpensive, high-bandwidth digital communications capabilities.

This computer/communication transformation forces people to adapt and improve efficiency and productivity using human-computer interaction. Some improvements are listed below:

Essence of Life

Computers can help impaired people. For instance, computer applications in the medical field are conceivable if medical staff find them profitable and handy. Similarly, computer applications become imperative in the educational field if teachers and students employ them. However, some particular procedures are required to enable computers to be used by disabled people.

Digital Competitiveness

Another critical driver for greater productivity is information technology. As long as the employees use computers during their job and training, the ease of use becomes economically essential.

Growth across the Computer/Communication Industry

The expansion of the digital industry is fueled by powerful, fascinating, and pragmatic applications. The current growth cycle results from a graphical user interface developed by large tech giants and lower computing costs. The resulting mass-market facilitates pricing for hardware and software. HCI research assists companies in designing and building new user-friendly applications.