London, United Kingdom, May 13, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Kim Hiltz was presented with the Ulf Aberg Prize at the Ergonomics Society Conference in London recently.
Kim is a senior consultant with usability and ergonomics consultancy System Concepts (http://www.system-concepts.com). The prize was awarded for her post graduate thesis on how different approaches to training can help users avoid ‘slip errors’ at the beginning of tasks.
‘Slip errors’ occur when a user means to do one thing, but unintentionally does something different. They are often due to users focusing on the main goal of their task, and overlooking a step which is required by the device they are using. Our brains see some steps as being unrelated to the main goal and so overlook them. For example, a user may forget to position the cursor in a text entry box before typing because he is focused on what he wants to write, not on getting the cursor in the right place.
This type of error is hard to reduce by training alone. Kim looked at three different approaches to training, and found that only by asking users to shift their main goal to ‘testing’ the device, could errors could be reduced.
Kim explains “This work highlights the central roles that user goals and attention play in the occurrence or avoidance of slip errors. It also highlights the importance of matching device design to user goals; if a task or device is designed so that all the required steps are related to achieving the users’ goal, then slip errors can be greatly reduced or even eliminated completely.”
Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and Director of the University College London (UCL) Interaction Centre nominated Kim for the award, saying “Kim completed her MSc in Human–Computer Interaction with Ergonomics at UCL (http://www.uclic.ucl.ac.uk/courses/masters/). Her project was an outstanding piece of work, combining imaginative study design with rigorous execution and thoughtful analysis. Both the internal and external examiners found the work a pleasure to read.”
Leslie Fountain, Director of System Concepts concludes “We are delighted that Kim has received this award, she is a valuable member of our user experience team, applying her expertise to help our clients make their products effective, efficient and satisfying to use”.