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1.1.1. Interacting with a System

Before talking about User Interfaces and Graphical User Interfaces, we want to begin with the basics. How machines and humans interact.

First we want to describe the stages of actions users go through when faced with the task of using a system. According to (1988) there are seven stages of a typical user interaction with a generic interaction system:

  1. Forming the goal: I want to do something in a program.
  2. Forming the intention: I have to start the program.
  3. Specifying the action: I have to click on a button to open the program.
  4. Executing the action: I click on the button.
  5. Perceive the system state: Note that the computer operates.
  6. Interpret the system state: The computer opens (hopefully) the right program.
  7. Semantically evaluating the interaction outcome: Note that the right program is open.
Product Designing according toProduct Designing according to (Marinilli 2002)

First, the user forms a conceptual intention from her/his goal. Second, s/he tries to adapt this intention to the commands provided by the system and from these commands carries out the action. Then, the user attempts to understand the outcomes of her/his actions. This is particularly important for computer systems, where the inner workings are hidden and users have to figure out the internal state only from few hints. The last three stages help the user to develop her/his idea of the system. The whole process is performed in a cycle of actions and evaluation. The user refines the model of the system s/he has in mind by interpreting the outcome of her/his actions. (Marinilli 2002)

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