WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Computer Science Department

Sample Questions: Part 2

These questions cover approximately the second half of the term.


What during interaction is Closure, and why do we need to be concerned
with it in interface design? (Note: not the Law of Closure from the
Universal Principles of Design)

One of Constantine & Lockwood's Usability (software quality) Metrics
is "structural", and concerns the visual appeal of the layout of an
interface. Explain the concept of what it measures, and what
measurements it includes to compute a value for the metric.

With regard to depth and breadth, what shape menu trees should you
provide, and why? What range of values are appropriate for depth and

Describe two criteria for ordering the items on a single menu. For
each, describe a reason for using that order.

Under what circumstances would it be acceptable to have 20 or more
items on a single menu?

For both of the following, characterize why they might be used, and
describe two strengths and two weaknesses of their use in an interface:
   a. Menus
   b. Fill-in Forms

What are the advantages and disadvantages of specifying command
arguments by keyword? (i.e., when compared to `by position').

You are an HCI consultant. Someone wants to know what two most basic,
key HCI analyses they must perform before starting the design of any
of the interfaces for their project. What are these?

Microsoft Office uses adaptive menus. Describe what an adaptive menu
is, and give one advantage and one disadvantage of this menu style.

What is an affordance? Give an example.  Why do you need to consider 
Affordances during the design of a Direct Manipulation interface? 

Why do you need to consider Norman's 7 stages model during the design of
a Direct Manipulation interface?  Give one example from the Execution
side of the cycle and one from the Evaluation side. 

Describe 4 characteristics of pointing/selection devices that could be
used to evaluate whether a particular device was good or bad for a
particular application. For example, `whether or not it makes the
screen dirty' might be used in a trade-off analysis for Touch Screens
(This example can't be one of your five!).

Apply the 4 characteristics you listed above to the evaluation of a

Describe two disadvantages of using a Mouse as an input device.

a. Give one characteristic of a situation where Speech input would be useful.
b. Describe one disadvantage of using a Touch Screen as an input device.
c. Describe three simple techniques used to indicate grouping of
   displayed information or controls.  
d. Describe two strategies for abbreviation of commands.

In "fillin" forms, field labels are typically on the left of the input
field for US use. Give one good thing and one bad thing about each of
the designs A & B below: 

                 (A)                                   (B)

Name:     |______________                   Name: |______________

Address:  |______________                Address: |______________ 

ID:	  |______________                     ID: |______________ 

You are making a form that includes provision for obtaining the user's
date of birth. Describe the method you'd use to obtain that
information. Describe what error processing you'd apply. 

For the following icon, explain its lexical, syntactic, and
semantic aspects. 

                        |   =======>

a. In icon design, what do Syntax and Dynamics refer to?
b. Relate "icons", "metaphors" and "Direct Manipulation".
c. Describe an icon that might be bad for international use.

For an interface of a computerized airport management system:
a. Give an example of a good icon that indicates where
   arriving flights can be found.
   Explain its syntax and semantics. Why is it good?
b. Contrast that with a bad icon of your choosing. Why exactly is it bad?
   Draw as well as you can! 

Describe why the "thumbs up" or the "stop/halt" hand gesture might not
be appropriate for use as icons in an international system.  

Describe and critique/praise two common layouts for arrow keys.

Evaluate the main strengths and weaknesses of the following two
special-purpose, eight key keyboards: used to indicate regions in a
cargo shipping application. The	 (Region ID, Frequency of use) pairs
are as follows:  
      (A, 20%)    (B, 15%)   (C, 10%)    (D,  5%) 
      (E, 20%)    (F,  5%)   (G,  5%)    (H, 20%) 
	The layouts are:

	            A B C D                           A E H F
	            E F G H                           B C D G

Having Fitts again:
What is the short equation for Fitts Law and what do the variables mean?
How would you use Fitts Law when designing a numeric keypad?

An interface designer has several alternative possible command names 
for an action (e.g., swap, flip, switch) and decides on one based on 
her preference.  What's the problem with that method?  How bad might
it be?  How could the choice be improved?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of specifying command
arguments by keyword? (i.e., when compared to `by position').

Contrast Command Languages and Direct Manipulation in terms of
Training Needed, User Turnover Rate, and relationship to Task

Critique and/or Praise each of the following error messages, 
with reasons in each case: 
a. "Syntax error."
b. "Catastrophic error. Process killed."
c. "Unable to process your last command. 
      Suggested commands are: SAVE, LOAD, or EXPLAIN."
d. "Hi! I'm Fred, your helpful computer. What's your name?"
e. "Segmentation fault error QZT7652 in Interrupt Handing section
    during I/O conglomeration resections." 

Describe what a good error message should include.

A user enters a telephone number incorrectly on a data entry
screen. Give an example of a good error message and an example of a
bad one.

Dvorak & QWERTY:
a. Why are the vowels on the same side of the Dvorak keyboard?
b. What was the purpose of the layout design of the QWERTY keyboard,
   and what was done to achieve that purpose?

a. What statistical data is very important for keyboard design?
b. Describe a strength and a weakness of the Alphabetic keyboard layout. 

a. Explain why left-handed typists should be able to type faster than
   right handed typists using a QWERTY keyboard layout.  
b. Consider question a. above but for the Dvorak keyboard instead. 
c. Describe a strength and a weakness of a third common keyboard layout. 

Describe two simple modifications that can be made to the design of a
regular keyboard that should improve naturalness of hand movements and
relaxation of the arms. 

Why should you design in black & white first, and consider color

Using Color:
a. What's a potential problem with a display of data that's only red
   and green? 
b. What's a potential problem with a display of data that's only red and blue?

a,b. Describe two HCI benefits of using color for data displays.
c.   Describe one potential HCI problem when using color for data displays.

What does it mean for an interface to have "modes"?
Why should modes be avoided in general?


Given two textual menus:
          A  Alarm	         1  Alarm
	  B  Bell	         2  Bell
	  C  Cancel	         3  Cancel
Which is better, and why? ----- When do you evaluate your interface design? Contrast usability testing, with a field study, with a predictive evaluation. What is a "Think-aloud protocol"? What is "Interaction Logging"? What is a "Structured Interview"? What is a "Cognitive Walkthrough"? ------------------------------------- What's the problem with using basic text fields for all information in a fillin form such as times of day, volume levels, dates, telephone numbers, postal codes, money amounts, zip codes and numbers of dependent children? Why do inconsistent border styles used for grouping make a difference? I.e., why not just ignore them? What's the primary use for having multiple selections in a window? What's the problem with instructions that go away too soon, and when might they occur (i.e., what should be avoided?). How can dialog boxes trap users?


[WPI] [CS]

dcb at cs.wpi.edu / Fri Sep 28 19:14:01 EDT 2012