Usability investigation of anthropomorphic user interface feedback
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This research has investigated the usability of anthropomorphic feedback. This investigation has been very important and useful for the research community and user interface developers because knowing definitively if an anthropomorphic type of feedback is usable or not is an unresolved issue. Therefore this research aimed to find out if anthropomorphic feedback is indeed more effective and more satisfying to use than conventional user interface feedbacks. It was also the aim of this research to devise a model for appropriate use of anthropomorphic feedback. The research conducted used a hypothetico-inductive approach and in conjunction with this, experimental techniques were used. Empirical data was collected and analysed. The body of research conducted has contributed to six novel and significant contributions to knowledge. The first contribution to knowledge concerns the fact that this research began by looking at contextual and domain issues concerning feedback types and their appropriateness. However following several experiments, the results suggested that context and domain were not the main factors involved for the results obtained and also the results obtained by other researchers. The second contribution to knowledge concerns the novel way the experiments and tasks were designed and executed. Having concluded that the domain and context were not the crucial elements to consider, other issues were therefore investigated. These concerned the possibility that other factors at the user interface (and not the actual anthropomorphic appearance) were affecting the results. The aspects specifically investigated were Cognitive Load Theory, Baddeley’s Working Memory Theory and the Theory of Affordances. The investigation suggests that Cognitive Load Theory and Baddeley’s Working Memory Theory do not explain the results obtained. These two analyses constitute two further contributions to knowledge as these analyses have not been conducted before on such issues. However the Theory of Affordances does explain the results of the suite of experiments conducted and also the results of a sample of research conducted by other authors. This analysis adds a further contribution to knowledge suggesting that the facilitation of various strands of affordances are key to the usability of an interface, rather than their being anthropomorphic. The last contribution to knowledge of this research is now proposing a tentative model concerning user interface feedback and the Theory of Affordances.