Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems

What System Designers Need to Know about People

Authors: Ritter, Frank E., Baxter, Gordon D, Churchill, Elizabeth F.

  • All of the chapters are self-contained, each providing an introduction to specific aspects of users and noting why these aspects are relevant to the area of system design
  • Provides several frameworks for developing the critical knowledge and skills required for the design of user-centered systems
  • Contains hands-on exercises and examples to illustrate the application of concepts introduced within the text
  • Designed to appeal to system designers and developers as well as university students, based on the combined backgrounds of the authors that includes many years working in industry and academia
  • The implications for system design are provided throughout the book so that readers can understand how what they have learned can be put to practical use
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eBook $34.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4471-5134-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $44.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4471-5133-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this Textbook

Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems introduces the fundamental human capabilities and characteristics that influence how people use interactive technologies. Organized into four main areas—anthropometrics, behaviour, cognition and social factors—it covers basic research and considers the practical implications of that research on system design. Applying what you learn from this book will help you to design interactive systems that are more usable, more useful and more effective.

The authors have deliberately developed Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems to appeal to system designers and developers, as well as to students who are taking courses in system design and HCI. The book reflects the authors’ backgrounds in computer science, cognitive science, psychology and human factors. The material in the book is based on their collective experience which adds up to almost 90 years of working in academia and both with, and within, industry; covering domains that include aviation, consumer Internet, defense, eCommerce, enterprise system design, health care, and industrial process control.


About the authors

Frank E. Ritter is a professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, professor in the Department of Psychology, and professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.  He has published more than 100 articles and conference papers, and edited several books in the area of cognitive modeling, cognitive architectures, human-computer interaction, and learning. He is on the editorial board of Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour Quarterly.

Gordon D. Baxter is a research fellow in the School of Computer Science at the University of St. Andrews. His background is in human factors and software engineering, with extensive experience in both. His research interests lie in trying to improve the way that systems are developed, and is interested in understanding how decisions and actions taken at all levels (regulatory, organisational, team and individual) affect what happens at the sharp end of the system where the user interacts with the technology His work is influenced by ideas from Resilience Engineering, and Cognitive Systems Engineering which means thinking more functionally about systems as a whole (i.e. people, technology and organisations) rather than taking an atomistic decomposition (or reductionist) type of approach, and focusing on successes as well as failures as a source of learning opportunities.

Elizabeth F. Churchill is the Director of Human Computer Interaction at eBay Research Labs in San Jose, California, and is the Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Human Computer Interaction (ACM SigCHI). She is an ACM Distinguished Scientist, and writes a column for ACM interactions magazine. She is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Media X, the industry affiliate program to Stanford’s H-STAR Institute. Previously she has worked at Yahoo! Research, PARC, and Fuji Xerox’s research lab in Palo Alto, FXPAL.

Reviews

“This book is about understanding people in order to design better interactive devices. It is addressed to designers of modern technological systems. … Each chapter concludes with implications for system design, a summary, other resources, and many exercises that help readers to better understand the chapter. … It is very useful for anyone who designs interactive systems. It contains in-depth analysis together with the effects on designing good systems.” (Claudiu Popescu, Computing Reviews, August, 2014)


“It looks great! It's going to be really useful. This may be the best HCI text so far.” (Stu Card, Stanford University)

“This is a timely work that brings invaluable insight at a critical time. As we learn more about science and technology we only really get better at two things: abstraction and scale. This means that the systems we create get bigger and more complex as a consequence over time. Nevertheless our inherent ability to absorb such scale and complexity remains unaltered and the resulting tensions place us, the users, squarely at the centre of the systems' life cycle. Few appreciate this fact and Software Engineers probably rank towards the bottom of the list. Hence why this work is so important. As the old school doctrines of Computer Science creek and groan under the strain of planet-scale systems, it is pioneers like Ritter, Baxter and Churchill who will help lead the way towards the new age of sociotechnical ecosystems.” (Phil Tetlow, IBM Chief Architect, Information Management, and Prof. of Web Science, December 2014)

”For all of us who have been “put on hold,” recorded for quality purposes,” been forced to talk to a mindless, uncaring voice non-recognition system, or simply beaten at the computer keyboard in sheer frustration, hope and help is at hand.  For Ritter and his colleagues are injecting rational, user-centered design into such systems development. It is a timely contribution, devoutly to be wished. Their text is a shining example of their advocated principles. Readable, informative, easy to use and innovative, this works puts into practice what it preaches. It should be on the desk of everyone who looks to conceive, design, fabricate and manufacture any modern technological system – no matter how hard, no matter how soft. Even if only a proportion of designers and users read this book we will be so much better off. If it gets the circulation it deserves it could change our world – and that very much for the better. If not, technorage will only grow and the Luddites will once again become a viable social Party!” (Peter Hancock, Provost Distinguished Research Professor, Pegasus Professor, and University Trustee Chair, University of Central Florida)

“As a software engineer, I've been advocating for the past 20 years that we will only see real improvements in our software when we move away from a technocentric view and adopt a wider perspective that takes into account what users really do. Too many software engineers consider this to be an 'CHI issue' and believe that they can focus on the technology and leave the 'soft stuff' to designers of the user experience. 
Well, they are wrong. Not only is it the case that most companies don't employ specialist UX designers, all too often these designers don't understand the underlying technological issues that have to be taken into account if our software is to work effectively, efficiently and securely. The only way forward in my view is for software engineering education to include education in the human, social and organisational factors that influence the ways in which software is designed and used.
Up till now, this has been very difficult. Conventional texts on CHI have a different audience and, all too often, focus on current technology rather than underlying fundamentals. This book is different and it's one we've been waiting for. It explains in depth fundamental human capabilities, cognitive strengths and cognitive limitations that influence the way that we choose, understand and use software systems. It explains how we communicate and how that affects the ways that interfaces are used; it discusses collaborative working, factors that support and inhibit collaboration and methods that can be used to understand how people work.
Most importantly, I think, it doesn't just present these fundamentals in isolation. Every chapter in the book has a section discussing the implications for design so that readers not only learn fundamentals but understand why these are important and how they might influence their work. These bring unfamiliar material to life for software engineers and clearly demonstrate why this is important for practical systems design.
This is both a textbook and a reference book. It would be a great basis for a course in human-centered software engineering but, as well as this, practicing engineers can access and learn from the individual chapters and the follow-up material that is suggested.  The lack of accessible and comprehensive material on human factors for software engineers has been an important barrier to more widespread acceptance of a human-centered approach to systems design. This book has broken down that barrier and I can thoroughly recommend it to all engineers.” (Ian Sommerville, Professor of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, and author of “Software Engineering”)

“This is the book I really needed when I developed a course on Applied Cognitive Science within our Masters programme in HCI with Ergonomics at UCL. At the time, I had to improvise with a mix of texts on cognitive psychology, engineering psychology and HCI. Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems fills an important gap in the space of texts for students and practitioners of HCI, focusing, as it does, on understanding people and their interactions (both social and with technology). Critically, it also draws out the implications of this understanding for design. It manages to cover all the key topics in this space while also being engaging and, at times, quirky. A textbook that makes one smile and want to read more is a textbook that works.” (Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction, University College London)

"I really enjoyed the reading of this lively book that I believe can be appreciated by different kinds of readers. A useful publication written with wit, helping the reader to discover the human capabilities and limitations, the patterns of user's attention and the fundamental principles to adopt at the early stages of system design. The authors take into consideration not only the usefulness of the artifacts, but also the impact they have on safety. In fact, the main cause of accident nowadays in aviation is the loss of control of the aircraft, often induced by a poor human-machine interaction. This is due, mainly, by poorly conceived interfaces, as the result of a lack of understanding of who the final user is. The overall problem lies in the very fact that the one who produces the artifacts is not the one using them. Eventually, after many years, the study of the human factors as a discipline at the cross-road between medicine, psychology and engineering is addressing the design of the interfaces.
As a human factor specialist, involved in flight operations, I think this book  should become a “must” even in the flight safety domain.” (Antonio Chialastri, Senior Captain and independent Human Factors consultant in aviation and medicine, Italy)

“This broad ranging survey of user-centered design techniques provides an effective introduction for designers into what people do, why and when they do it and what motivates those behaviours.
If you ever wanted to know what a 'steep learning curve' actually looks like and how the user will interact with your system at different points along this curve then this is the book for you!
Through well illustrated examples, it considers a wide range of topics from traditional ergonomics, through user behaviour, cognitive models and social factors. Many of the examples take off the traditional 'blinkers' of user centred design and show how a human decision at the 'sharp end' may well have its roots in a much wider and blunter context.
As a chief architect for large programmes, this book has given me access to a variety of new techniques and an extended vocabulary that I look forward to introducing my design teams to.” (Richard Hopkins, Chief Architect and IBM Distinguished Engineer, co-author of “Eating the IT Elephant”)

"The HCI profession emerged when psychologists teamed with developers. Design was missing. Today, good teams have strong designers and technologists—but psychological insight is often in short supply. This book fills that gap with a fresh look at established and new knowledge and approaches.” (Jonathan Grudin, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, ACM Fellow)

“The “Who, What, When, Where and Why of Human-Systems Interaction” – a practitioners primer for Systems Designers looking to advance human computer symbiosis in their designs. The book provides a straight-forward, easy-to-read introduction to the process of designing interactive technologies using human-centered approaches that avoid the cookie-cutter, simplistic recipes all too common in other publications. Also worth noting is that this guide not only covers foundations for beginners, but also includes practical, real-word examples, as well as emerging essential topics for the design of systems, for more advanced practitioners. The reader will quickly discover that this book provides essential, innovative, and targeted tools for designers who are focused on enabling seamless interactions between humans and technologies. For anyone looking to advance human-computer-symbiosis, this book will not gather dust on your shelf!” (Dylan Schmorrow, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Soar Technology, Inc.)

“Anything that helps software developers think more about the mental states of their users and how that affects the utility and usability of their software is a good thing.  Even if you don't plan to become a human factors expert, you will find good ideas in this book to help make your applications more successful.” (William A. Woods, research scientist and software engineer.)

Table of contents (14 chapters)

  • Introducing User-Centered Systems Design

    Ritter, Frank E. (et al.)

    Pages 3-31

  • User-Centered Systems Design: A Brief History

    Ritter, Frank E. (et al.)

    Pages 33-54

  • Anthropometrics: Important Aspects of Users’ Bodies

    Ritter, Frank E. (et al.)

    Pages 57-80

  • Behavior: Basic Psychology of the User

    Ritter, Frank E. (et al.)

    Pages 81-121

  • Cognition: Memory, Attention, and Learning

    Ritter, Frank E. (et al.)

    Pages 123-164

Buy this book

eBook $34.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4471-5134-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $44.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4471-5133-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems
Book Subtitle
What System Designers Need to Know about People
Authors
Copyright
2014
Publisher
Springer-Verlag London
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag London
eBook ISBN
978-1-4471-5134-0
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4471-5134-0
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4471-5133-3
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXX, 442
Number of Illustrations and Tables
108 b/w illustrations
Topics