Multiple Data Interfaces

An interesting offshoot of the usability lab is the concept of providing more than one user interface to an application. Historically, systems designers have focused on a single interface to be used by all users regardless of their positions within the company, their degree of computer literacy, or their frequency of use. One size does not fit all, however.

Although it is generally true that 80 percent of the usage is accomplished by 20 percent of the users, the intermittent users may be quite significant to the overall success of the application. Also, intermittent users may be very influential within their organizations.

A simple example is the experience a well-positioned professor had when trying to use the college library's new search tool. The professor needed only one book, for which he knew the name and author. However, he still had to:

Log onto the school network Get to the school home page Click on the library navigator

4. Click on the library catalog

5. Click on local library

6. Click on search the catalog

7. Type in the title of the book

8. Click on search

9. Click on view

The professor was frustrated by the amount of time it took him, as a seasoned user, to access the information he needed. He suggested that IS place an icon on every faculty and student desktop that gets them to step 6 or 7 in one click, or the setup of a few stations in the library that are set to stay on step 6 or 7.

The system that was developed was suitable for first-time users, but not for frequent users. Having multiple interfaces can prove a valuable feature for many systems, particularly when the user base is heterogeneous.

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Project Management Made Easy

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