Why is HCI important?
The question assumes that HCI is essential in society, business, and manufacturing, and other applications. Since the boom of computers and handheld devices, the term user-friendly has experienced its own proliferation. Ease of use is paramount when designing and building electronics, particularly one that exists in most households. Therefore, humans with the constant interaction with smartphones, PCs, iPads, Macs, and more want the device to be easy to master. The concept is usability or user experience (UX). Product designers need to consider this aspect as well as functionality. Making it too simple to use might detract from the purpose and function of the hardware and software.
HCI specialists must consider usability, function, price, and human behavior. The latter refers to understanding how the users see the product meeting their needs, desires, problems, and emotions. Sight is a strong sense in humans, requiring designers to assess the smartphone’s attractiveness. Apple’s iPhone has been described as beautiful and practical. Going back to the 4s model, the back panel was glass. Visually that phone was stunning as well as functional. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he shifted the focus from more memory, better camera, and faster connectivity. Nokia, at the time, had Apple beat on these characteristics. Instead, Jobs had the designers create a handheld computer – make calls and browse the internet. Its success is legendary!
Mr. Jobs recognized the user experience as taking precedence over all other qualities. He concentrated on how the consumer could interact with the phone in novel ways. Hence, creating a mobile phone with most of the same functions as a desktop computer was brilliant. Indirectly, Apple analyzed the relationship between humans and phones, resulting in sales that peaked at 231.22 million in 2015.
It is challenging to determine projected job growth as HCI is a multidisciplinary field consisting of various titles and positions – similar to vocations in medicine or engineering. Some of the opportunities in HCI are:
User interface plays a role in creating and designing advanced visual components without losing ease of use. Another term is graphical user interface (GUI) that refers to the information, actions, size, color, and visibility integrated into the software. Windows, macOS, Chrome, and Linux are examples of GUI operating systems.
The two ingredients in a computer or smartphone are the software and the hardware. The software engineer develops the software and applications, which require knowledge of the operating system, mathematical models, and programming languages. They must analyze the users’ needs and the devices’ capabilities in the design process.
Cognitive Systems Engineer
This multidisciplinary profession involves data mining, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, and human cognition. Cognition, by definition, means thinking. Therefore, this engineer’s focus is to assess and analyze how humans think and how behavior affects the specific technology’s development.
UX design applies to many everyday products and services, from apps to vacuum cleaners. An app must be user-friendly and perform to the user’s satisfaction. This example is no different than a vacuum cleaner or coffee maker that must be easy to operate and meet the person’s expectations. Psychology (cognition), business, market research, technology, and design are elements in the creation and development steps. Excellent results in all of these attributes convert to better sales= revenue.
Donald Norman, an Apple engineer (why are we not surprised), coined the term in 1993 when he changed his job title from User Interface Architect to User Experience Architect. He opined that a person’s experience encompassed the design, the graphics, the interface, the operating system, and the how-to manual.
The enormous success of Disney World is a credit to Walt Disney’s vision to create attractions that created special memories for all attendees. When Disneyland opened in July 1955, it was a marvel developed by the imagination of an individual who magnified user experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth over ten years (2019-29) is 8% for Digital Designers and Web developers. Software Developers have an increase of 22% over the same period. Computer hardware engineers only have a projected growth of 2%. A better job outlook exists in Computer and Information Research at 15%. On the negative side, Computer Programmers will decline by 9% over the ten years.
It is evident from these statistics that the job growth in the HCI field varies considerably. Because of the various disciplines in this arena, there is no uniformity of employment projections.
For Further Reading: