How does Human-Computer Interaction apply to SharePoint? Part 1

A company in California wanted someone who “can design the interface based on human computer interface [should be interaction] and cognitive psychology philosophies and best practices.” They wanted the best of both worlds, such that he, or she, would have a good appreciation for the complexities of SharePoint [2007 and 2010]. Plus, “be adept at using Microsoft Expression to apply their design concepts in such a way that limited additional coding would have been necessary.” The company added they were on a time constraint of 4-5 weeks. Good luck with that order. Looks like another case of duality, a special mix of user-interface designer and .NET developer with SharePoint skills.

Besides the obvious problem of getting two-for-the-price-of-one, there remained the issue of what the company was asking for verses what the they thought they were asking for. The research with regard to the area of human-computer interaction (HCI) had its humble beginnings in the early 1980s. Although there are arguments that it started much earlier, but I’ll just stick with the time when the first personal computer was introduced. Nearly thirty years later, the area has grown to involve many disciplines.

Theories and models abound from Input-Stimulus Output-Response to GOMS models. Interactions can be as simple as visual, point-and-click applications to more complex, multi-modal systems. The process of taking interface requirements, defining and developing interpreted components, and translating the component descriptions into final code is a quite a feat. In the next posting, I hope to clarify this process of HCI theory and practical application by walking through the steps HCI design towards the development of a graphical-user interface for an application, specifically used in SharePoint. Eventually, I will finish this series resulting in the creation of a SharePoint web part usable for WSS 3.0, MOSS 2007 and SharePoint 2010.

Here’s some links concerning HCI to whet your appetite until the next post:

SIGCHI http://www.sigchi.org/

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-computer_interaction

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I am a software engineer whose has many interests. My current distractions are ontology, mobile device technology, medical bioinformatics, and micro-robotics.

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