Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

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Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

What is human-computer interaction?

Human-computer interaction is the study of interaction between humans & computers. HCI has also expanded to cover almost all forms of information technology design. In its essence, human-computer interaction is the study of the manner in which people interact with computers and the level to which computers are developed for successful interaction with human beings.

One important thing to be considered in human-computer interaction is that various users have varying conceptions and mental models regarding their interactions. They also have differing ways in which they learn and keep knowledge and acquired skills. 

Originally, HCI focused primarily on computers, but since then has expanded to include almost all variations of information technology design after the emergence of personal computers in the late 1970s. Researchers realized that they had to expand the interaction with computers to everyone rather than to only people who were information technology professionals. It studies primarily on how people interact with computers and to what extent the users are able to interact with the computers. The goal is to have a successful interaction between both the computer and the user and to see which areas still need more development. 

With rapid advancements in user interface technology, there are constantly new options and possibilities in interactions that old studies might not apply to. As users get accustomed to new interfaces and master them, their preferences would also change.

Why is human-computer interaction important?

Human-computer interaction is of critical importance because it makes products more usable, safe, helpful, and functional. It creates a seamless and enjoyable user experience, rather than leaving the user frustrated as they try to figure out why the system is not working as they expect it to work and doing what they want it to do. 

Human-computer interaction is vital to prevent products from just failing completely. It makes systems more intuitive, intelligible, and useful for people. If a system is designed well using HCI principles, your users won’t really have to worry about the systems’ complexities. This is very important because even today, a large number of computer users complain that the companies making computers are not focusing enough on making their products more intuitive and user-friendly.

Good HCI design can offer your product a competitive advantage. Since your customers can get more value from your product with less effort, they’re more likely to use your offerings than those of your competitors.

human computer interaction
Source: ResearchGate

What are the components of Human-Computer Interactions?

  • Organization Factors: Politics, Work place, Design, Training
  • Environmental Factors: Noise, Ventilation
  • The User: Capabilities and cognitive processes, Personality, Experience, Motivation, Emotions
  • Comfort Factors: Equipment, Layout
  • User Interface: Input and output of device, Colors, Layout, Icons, Graphics, Navigation
  • Task Factors: How complex/easy it is, skills, task allocation
  • Constraints: Cost, Time, Equipment
  • System Functionality: Hardware, Software, Application
  • Productivity Factors: Least amount of cost for most efficient output, Increase innovation, Problem solving

What are the goals of Human-Computer Interactions?

The goal of HCI is to create a user-friendly system that is also functional and safe. In order to achieve this goal, developers must be able to:

  • Empathize with the users and anticipate how they will use the technology
  • Develop tools and techniques to enable best practices on building a sufficient system
  • Produce an effective, efficient, and safe interaction

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What are the 7 HCI principles?

In 1988, Donald Norman put forth 7 principles that could be used to assess human-computer interaction. According to him, these seven stages can be used to transform difficult tasks. Norman’s 7 principles of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) are:

  • Use both knowledge in the world as well as knowledge in the head.
  • Simplify task structures.
  • Make things visible.
  • Get the mapping right (User mental model = Conceptual model = Designed model).
  • Convert constraints into advantages (Physical constraints, Cultural constraints, Technological constraints, etc.).
  • Design for Error.
  • When all else fails − Standardize.

What are the 3 main components of HCI?

Primarily, there are three main components of HCI which are as follows:

The user;

The interface; and

How they work together. 

The interaction between the user and the system is defined with the help of behavioral science concepts, computer science, and other fields of study. The connection between these components is important because computers have nearly infinite uses, and there are numerous opportunities for open-ended conversation between users and computers. 

A computer interface is a medium that enables the communication between any user and a computer. Organizations can create efficient & effective interfaces by examining the relationship between the user and the interface and their limitations and capabilities. 

Source: Allerin

How is HCI different from UX?

While the goals are similar, User Experience (UX) concentrates on presenting users a good experience using the products, therefore augmenting the commercial value of products. When studying HCI, one doesn’t necessarily work on a product, it could be about the psychological impact of any technology or visual communication or etc.

How is HCI Used?

You have a couple of distinct areas where they have used this such as computer science, psychology, sociology and industrial design. Let's have a look at how they use HCI in each of the industries. For example, computer science uses it to make applications and engineering more simple. They want to make things as navigable as possible.

Next, you have psychology. They use this for applying analytical purpose and for applying the different theories that they have in psychology. Sociology, on the other hand, uses this concept as a way of looking at how technology interacts with businesses, charities and groups to find the most effect

tive application. Finally, you have industrial design. They use this to simplify products that will eventually hit the consumer market like coffee pots, cars and laptops.

How can Companies Benefit from Using It?

The biggest benefit as a company that comes from using HCI is from more user friendly products. You are able to make personal computers and systems much more receptive to the needs of the user, creating a better user experience. In a way, you might consider this goal-driven design that helps you to achieve your goals more easily. That will ultimately lead to greater success in business, which is ultimately the biggest benefit of HCI.

When it comes to UX design, and overall usability, one of the core things that you should ask is, "Can someone use this easily?" That's the core behind the concept of HCI: both usability and ease of use.


What are the disciplines that contribute to HCI?  

The field of HCI covers a wide range of topics, and its development has depended on contributions from many disciplines and faculties. Some of the main disciplines which have contributed to HCI are:

1. Computer Science

2. Cognitive Psychology

3. Social Psychology

4. Ergonomics/Human Factors

5. Linguistics

6. Artificial Intelligence

7. Philosophy, Sociology & Anthropology

8. Engineering & Design


What are the trends in the User Experience Industry driven by human-computer interaction? 

Voice Guided User Interface

Voice-guided UI is a new trend in the market, where users can interact with the technology using only their voice. We can command and instruct these Voice Guided devices to perform tasks like playing music, controlling electronic devices, or set reminders, etc with the help of IoT & AI. 

Gesture Guided User Interface

We are already using the gesture-guided interface on our mobile phones or touch screen devices for navigation through swipes, taps, or pinches. 

Tech companies are constantly imbibing these techniques to enhance the interaction on wearable devices too. 

Virtual/Augmented Reality 

Virtual reality headsets allow us to engage in truly immersive experiences. As technology evolves, we may perform more of our daily tasks using a headset instead of a laptop and keyboard. Augmented reality lets us experience the world while administered by technology. 

Wearables Technology 

Wearable technology has started enhancing the user interface for smartwatches and fitness monitors that allow us to track our vital signs and keep a check on our health with just a few taps.

What are human-computer interaction examples?

  • Interaction with a mobile app
  • Browsing 
  • Smart Watches
  • Virtual Reality/ Mixed Reality/ AR
  • Voice Search Technology
  • Gaming wearables and devices
  • Other IoT devices

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