reDUX a blog by the Discovery & User Experience dept

The Most Basic Interface

Here at DUX we are often concerned with the interface the user is presented with.  Usually, this involves the on-screen interface presented in a web browser.  However, we should also consider that the user is usually interacting with that interface via a primary physical interface (i.e. a mouse and keyboard).  With that in mind, exploring “non-traditional” computer interfaces and hardware can open up new ways of thinking about how users interact with our designs.

Alternative interface methods range from the expected to the bizarre.  Touch screens have been around for quite a while, and are something most users are familiar with now.  These generally offer faster interaction for simple tasks, however are less suitable for more complicated tasks.

Mouse and keyboard is the tried and true method for interfacing with the computer, but what about innovative versions of this hardware? 

Ergonomic designs are intended to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.  The Safe Keyboard takes this to a new level by placing the most often used portion of the keyboard perpendicular to the desk.  Are ergonomic keyboards a more effective way for users to interact with the computer?  Probably not, but it might be as effective, while being safer.

The mouse is the other staple for human-computer interaction.  Touch pad mice appear both for laptops and desktop PCs.   While this technology isn’t new, it has become more ubiquitous as well as more responsive.

Of course, budget constraints lead to a lot of these “gadgets” being out of reach for libraries to have for every workstation.  The standard mouse and keyboard provide a cost-effective common ground that virtually every user is familiar with.  That said, there is some merit for considering alternatives to the most basic interface all our users are presented with.