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Who Should Design For Novice Users? A Study of Experts' Limitations in Predicting Novices' Experience

Hinds, Pamela


Keyword(s): expertise; human-computer interaction; cognitive biases; estimation accuracy

Abstract: Experts are often called upon to design interfaces, applications, and instruments for novices. But, there are reasons to believe that expertise may inhibit peoples' ability to understand the novice experience. Data from one study suggests that experts suffer from a cognitive bias that leads them to underestimate the difficulty that novices will encounter when performing an unfamiliar task. The data also suggest that experts' bias toward underestimation is resistant to a commonly used debiasing technique--listing the steps required to perform a task and listing some of the problems that could occur when novices attempt a task for the first time. These results reinforce the importance of including multiple perspectives in the design process and making sure that expert designers work to understand the perspective of their novice users. The results also suggest that simply reading usability reports on the problems experienced by novices may not be adequate to debias experts. It may be necessary to create better ways to facilitate experts' understanding of novices' experience.

13 Pages

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