| Human-Computer Interaction|
|Information and computer technology is introduced into the workplace for a number of reasons, include handling and representing data more efficiently, providing better information to support operating decisions, integrating systems, allowing people to work in safer environments, and reducing the costs of instrumentation.
However, it can affect the nature of work in many ways that compromise system efficiency and safety if insufficient attention is paid to how this technology is used.
The tasks that people carry out are substantially changed as a consequence of information and computer technology, sometimes presenting new challenges and increasing the intensity of work activities. It is often assumed that the introduction of such technology presents the organization with many operational benefits whilst providing a benign operating environment that people will adapt to easily. Yet the reality is often very different, due to the failure of system designers fully to anticipate the nature of the work and the working environment that will be created.
The field of human–computer interaction (HCI) deals with a wide range of issues concerned with ensuring that work environments involving computers are best suited to the needs of human beings, as well as fulfilling the requirements of the system. A proper HCI intervention will seek to understand the tasks that people will be required to do and ask central questions concerning how best to organize the work, contribute to how information is organized and presented via computer screens, provide suitable user/operator support, establish a satisfactory working environment and ensure that staff are best prepared in acquiring the skills to fulfil their roles.
A common problem in organizations is the failure to anticipate these issues at stages in the design process when human factors interventions can contribute effectively without requiring substantial, hence unwanted, redesign or rebuild. Many HCI interventions are, therefore, less than satisfactory, because it is too late to take these factors properly into account without wasting resources or compromising project targets – it is difficult to make a sensible contribution when system developers have already designed interfaces, purchased equipment, and specified how it is to be laid out. To take proper account of human factors in HCI design, therefore, organizations should consider the issue of HCI at the start of, or early on in, a project. In this way the human factors resource will be properly anticipated and can be engaged at points in the project where its contribution is timely and relevant to the needs of the organization.