User Interfaces
Homework #1

Due Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. sharp.
Submit by mailing to me (amsterdam@cs).

Note: There are no right answers to these problems. We are looking for thoughtful responses, expressed clearly.

1 (6 points). Choose one interactive artifact. It must not be a computer program, but anything else that is designed for human interaction will do. Analyze the object's design. What constraints did the design have to meet? How did these constraints affect the user interface? What about the object is easy to use? What is difficult? Describe and categorize the interaction cues according to the classification described in the class notes (physical, metaphoric, conventional, labeling, explanatory): in what ways does the object inform the user what is to be done? Does the object provide feedback for user actions, and if so, what category of interaction cue characterizes the feedback? In your opinion, is the object well-designed? Why or why not? Keep your response to under two printed pages (about 500 words). If the object is too complicated to describe in that little space, then just focus on one or a few aspects of it.

2 (1 point). In what way or ways are revolving doors superior to ordinary doors? In what way(s) are they inferior? (Just think about it and make an educated guess; don't do research.)

3 (1 point). Take a careful look at a row of NYC subway turnstiles. What cues in the construction of the turnstiles tell you to walk through the one to the left of the metrocard slot, instead of the right?

4 (2 points). Describe your favorite (most vexing, interesting or funny) design flaw in a computer program. It should be a problem in the design of the program, not a bug in the code. Analyze the problem to the best of your ability and suggest a solution. Your answer should be a page or less. (I would prefer anecdotes about commercial software, or programs that many people are familiar with.)