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Please don't beam me up, Scotty...

Reflecting this season of traditions, HFI's December newsletter reviews the findings of the research presented in our Putting Research into Practice course. In preparing this course, recent research from various disciplines (including Human Computer Interaction / Ergonomics, Cognitive & Social Psychology, Computer Science, Marketing, Economics...) that might have implications for usability professionals is systematically reviewed. The most interesting, important, and applicable papers are summarized for presentation in our 3 day seminar.

As in 2003, we present empirically derived conclusions (rather than guidelines) so as to provide practitioners direct access to recent research citations in the justification of their design decisions.

By the way, if you only read one paper about usability this year, read this one:

Faulkner, L., Beyond the five-user assumption: Benefits of increased sample sizes in usability testing (2003). Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 35 (3), 379-383.

Toyota Prius


Security, information quality and quantity are predictors of user-satisfaction in e-commerce. (Lightner, 2003)

Sensory impact influences younger users, whereas vendor reputation is a better predictor of satisfaction for older, more educated users. (Lightner, 2003)

Young adults believe that technology provides great opportunities for freedom and efficiency. However, they also recognize the risks of social isolation, information overload. (Gustafsson, 2003)

Trust in the on-line purchase process is influenced by:

  • perceived creditability,
  • ease of use, and
  • perceived degree of risk.

(Corritore, C.L., Krachcher, B., & Wiedenbeck, S., 2003)


People tend to use the Web to shop for intangible products such as software, mortgages, tickets, and insurance rather than are tangible items such as groceries, clothing and furniture. (Vijayasarthy, 2002)

Consumer purchase behavior is driven by perceived security, privacy, quality of content and design, in that order. (Ranganathan, C., Ganapathy, S., 2002)

Price was not a factor influencing the tendency to purchase more intangible than tangible items on the Web. (Vijayasarthy, 2002).

The more consumers know about shortcomings in privacy and information reliability on the Web, the more likely they are to use the Internet. (Jackson, L.A. et al., 2003)

Satisfied customers are more loyal to their online service providers than bricks and mortar providers. (Shankar, Smith, & Rangaswamy, 2003)

On consumer product (e.g., apparel) sites, interactive imagery:

  • increases consumers' willingness to purchase online,
  • enhances site loyalty, and
  • improves consumers' attitudes about the bricks-and-mortar store.
    (Fiore, A.M. & Fin, H.-J., 2003)

Consumers who are in a good mood tend to browse more and buy less than consumers in a bad mood. (Xia, L., 2002)

Users will wait longer for better content. Users will wait between 8-10 seconds for information on the Web, depending on the quality of the information. (Ryan and Valverde, 2003)

Experienced users won't wait as long as novices. (Ryan and Valverde, 2003)

Influencing attitudes and behavior

Including and highlighting design features that reduce negative attitudes about a site will increase usage. (Jackson, 2003)

Users can be engaged by Web advertising if it fulfills the users' reasons for visiting the Web: to seek information, or be entertained. (Zhou, Z., & Bao, Y,. 2002)

Sophisticated users demand more informative ads. (Zhou, Z., & Bao, Y., 2002)

Heavy Web users purchase 11% more online, and perceive ads to be more informative, helpful and entertaining. (Korgaonkar & Wolin 2002)

Co-branding can enhance brands with complementary strengths, however, co-branding is generally difficult and often goes unnoticed by consumers. (Bengtsson, A. 2002)

Rapid blast messages are more likely to be noticed and noticed faster than ticker messaging or slowly fading messages. (McCrickard, D.S. et al., 2003)

The content of "ticker" alerts is remembered better than rapid blast messages or slowly fading messages. (McCrickard, D.S. et al., 2003)

In community feedback environments, recommenders are influenced by prior ratings (including inaccurate ones). (Cosley, D., et al., 2003)

To minimize the exposure bias of previous recommenders, avoid showing previous scores to new raters when possible. (Cosley, D., et al., 2003)

The highest impact Web-community word of mouth interactions:

  • have more detail, better spelling and grammar,
  • reflect clear motivations, and
  • come from a known/frequent reviewer.
    (Bickart et al., 2002)


Focus groups

Online focus groups tend to elicit more comments, have a stronger task focus and have a more balanced distribution of comments among participants. (Easton, Easton, & Belch, 2003)

Using scenarios

Scenarios are valuable in both conceptual design and detailed page design. (Hertzum, M., 2003)

The use of scenarios can help to bring developers into the user-centered design process. (Hertzum, M., 2003)

Interfaces are usable when they support human reasoning and learning styles: Designers fail to appreciate how humans rely on mental short cuts such as linking new information to a previously learned framework (called a "schema"). (Chalmers, P.A., 2003)


Information architecture

Well organized information hierarchies can be as effective and satisfying as search engines. (Ma, S., & Salvendy, G., 2003)

Detailed Design

Link Color

Conventional blue colored links presented in the left hand column proved fastest and most usable main navigation. (Pearson, R., & van Schaik, P., 2003)

Experience matters: Blue links are easier to click than black ones, even though black ones have higher visual contrast and are easier to see. (van Schaik, P., & Ling, J., 2003)


Keyboard shortcuts prove to be significantly faster and more accurate than mouse clicks. Despite practice using a mouse, nearly all users preferred using keyboard shortcuts. (Jorgensen, A.H. et al., 2002)

Writing for the Web

Well written sites significantly reduce confusion, comprehension errors and reading times. (Ozok, A.A., & Salvendy, G., 2003)

This effect of bad Web writing will likely be amplified for non-native English speakers. (Ozok, A.A., & Salvendy, G., 2003)


Concrete icons are easier to recognize for infrequent users. Frequent users perform equally well using both concrete and abstract icons. (McDougall et al., 2001)

Animation is effective when presenting complex concepts. (Weiss, R., Knowlton, D., & Morrison, G.R., 2002)

The acceptance and impact animation is enhanced when users are warned to expect it and allowed to start it when they want. (Weiss, R., Knowlton, D., & Morrison, G.R., 2002)

In e-learning environments, pairing narration with animation maximizes its effectiveness. Video of the narrator is not recommended. (Weiss, R., Knowlton, D., & Morrison, G.R., 2002)

Usability Testing / Surveys

On average, testing 10 participants in a usability test results in capturing 80% of the issues. If you test only 5, the range of issues captured goes from as high as 85% to as low as 55% depending on the participant group. (Faulkner, L., 2003)

Lab and remote usability studies capture very similar performance information. (Tullis, et al., 2002)

Remote studies allow for more diversity in participants. Lab studies allow the observation of non-verbal behaviors. (Tullis, et al., 2002)

Users who are being observed by a facilitator are more diligent: They stick with a task about twice as long, and clicked three times more links than those who are not being directly observed. (Schutle-Mecklenbeck, M., & Huber, O., 2003)

When rating things, users preferred the 7-point scale to continuous, direct-manipulation sliders in on-line surveys. Both approaches yielded the same results. (van Schaik, P., & Ling, J., 2003)

Standards and Templates

Web pages generally vary in three dimensions: layout, navigation support, and information density. (Ryan, T., Field, R.H.G., Olfman, L., 2004)

Over time, Web sites have evolved from big button designs to frames to scattered buttons pages to high color to functionally sub-divided layouts or portal pages. (Ryan, T., Field, R.H.G., Olfman, L., 2004)

Globalization / Localization

Semi-localization can be achieved in a standard design system by keeping the information design and presentation design constant while allowing content to significantly vary by location. This approach supports a unified global brand. (Robbins, S.S., & Stylianou, A.C., 2003)


Bengtsson, A., Unnoticed relationships: Do consumers experience co-branded products? (2002). Advances in Consumer Research 29, 521-527.

Bickart et al., Expanding the scope of word of mouth: consumer-to-consumer information on the internet (2002). Advances in Consumer Research 28, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 428-430.

Chalmers, P.A., The role of cognitive theory in human-computer interface (2003). Computers in Human Behavior 19, 593-607.

Corritore, C.L., Krachcher, B., & Wiedenbeck, S., On-line trust: concepts, evolving themes (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 58, 737-758.

Cosley, D., et al., Is seeing believing? How recommender interfaces affect users’ opinions (2003). CHI 5 (1), 585-592.

Easton, G., Easton, A., & Belch, M., An experimental investigation of electronic focus groups (2003). Information & Management 40, 717-727.

Faulkner, L., Beyond the five-user assumption: Benefits of increased sample sizes in usability testing (2003). Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 35 (3), 379-383.

Fiore, A.M. & Fin, H.-J., The influence of image interactivity on approach responses towards an online realtor (2003). Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy 13 (1), 38-48.

Gustafsson, E. et al., The use of information technology among young adults: Experience, attitudes, and health beliefs (2003). Applied Ergonomics 34, 565-570.

Hertzum, M., Making use of scenarios: A field study of conceptual design (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 58, 215-239.

Jackson, L.A. et al., Internet attitudes and Internet use: some surprising findings from the HomeNetToo project (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 59, 355-382.

Jorgensen, A.H. et al., Using mouse and keyboard under time pressure: Preference, strategies and learning (2002). Behavior & Information Technology. 21 (5), 317-319.

Korgaonkar, P. & Wolin, L.D., Web usage, advertising and shopping: relationship patterns (2002). Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, 12 (2), 191-204.

Lightner, N.J., What users want in e-commerce design: effects of age, education and income (2003). Ergonomics 46, (1-3), 153-168.

Ma, S., & Salvendy, G., Graphical web directory for web search (2003). Behaviour & Information Technology 22 (2), 71-77.

McCrickard, D.S. et al., Establishing tradeoffs that leverage attention for utility: empirically evaluating information display in notification systems (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 58, 547-582.

McDougall et al, The effects of visual information on users' mental models: an evaluation of pathfinder analysis as a measure of icon usability (2001). International Journal of Cognitive Ergonomics. 5 (1), 59-84.

Ozok, A.A., & Salvendy, G., The effect of language inconsistency on performance and satisfaction in using the Web: Results from three experiments (2003). Behavior & Information Technology 22 (3), 155-163.

Pearson, R., & van Schaik, P., The effect of spatial layout and link color in web pages on performance in a visual search task and an interactive search task (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 59, 327-353.

Ranganathan, C., Ganapathy, S., Key dimensions of business-to-consumer web sites (2002). Information & Management 39, 457-465.

Robbins, S.S., & Stylianou, A.C., Global corporate web sites: An empirical investigation of content and design (2003). Information & Management 40 (3), 205-212.

Ryan, G. & Valverde, M., Waiting online: A review and research agenda (2003). Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy 13 (3), 195-205.

Ryan, T., Field, R.H.G., Olfman, L., The evolution of US state government home pages from 1997 to 2002 (2004). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, in press.

Schutle-Mecklenbeck, M., & Huber, O., Information search in the laboratory and on the web: With or without an experimenter (2003). Behavior Research & Methods, Instruments & Computers 35 (2), 227-235.

Shankar, V., Smith, A.K., & Rangaswamy, A., Customer satisfaction and loyalty in online and offline environments (2003). International Journal of Marketing Research, 20, 153-175.

Tullis T., et al., An empirical comparison of lab and remote usability testing of web sites (2002). Usability Professionals Association Conference.

van Schaik, P., & Ling, J., The effect of link colour on information retrieval in educational intranet use (2003). Computers in Human Behavior 19, 553-564.

van Schaik, P., & Ling, J., Using online surveys to measure three key constructs of the quality of human-computer interaction in web sites: Psychometric properties and implications (2003). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 59 (5), 545-567.

Vijayasarthy, L.R., Product characteristics and internet shopping intentions (2002). Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy 12 (5), 411-426.

Weiss, R., Knowlton, D., & Morrison, G.R., Principles for using animation in computer-based instruction: Theoretical heuristics for effective design (2002). Computers in Human Behavior 18, 465-477.

Xia, L., Affect as information: the role of affect in consumer online behavior (2002). Advances in Consumer Research 29, 93-99.

Zhou, Z., & Bao, Y., Users' attitudes toward web advertising: effects of Internet motivation and Internet ability (2002). Advances in Consumer Research 29, 71-78.

Message from the CEO, Dr. Eric Schaffer — The Pragmatic Ergonomist

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation (“HFI”) collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of its website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the “Website”). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.


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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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