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HumanComputer Interaction

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With the increasing popularity of online trade, the shoppers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their knowledge about various online purchasing alternatives and less patient with websites that are difficult to understand and use (Nah amp. Davis 2002).
Here, Human-Computer Interaction study plays an important role in resolving the usability issues by formulating methodologies and processes for designing interfaces which are human-centered. The basic premise of human-centered design is that the system should support the user, not vice versa ( FFA Human Factors).
A long-term goal of HCI is to design systems that minimize the barrier between the humans cognitive model of what they want to accomplish and the understanding of the computer of the user’s task (Online Wikipedia).
For this report, I have chosen a quite popular e-commerce website, www.ebay.com. Various HCI methodologies are available for gaining an understanding about the users and their environment. the methods which I chose for analyzing this website are the contextual inquiry and task analysis.
Contextual inquiry is a research technique for collecting information about the users, their needs, working environment and tasks performed by them, by conducting interviews or through direct observation while they are at work. The result of this process feeds directly into the design process (Gaffney 1999).
It is more like a discovery process than evaluative process. more like learning than testing (James 2003). Contextual inquiry is based on three core principles: understanding the context in which the product or system is used, treating the user as a partner in the designing process by asking for his suggestions and identifying the feature that needs to be
embedded in the system in order to make it more productive. Lastly, usability design must have a focus, a focus can be seen as a number of assumptions and beliefs concerning what we want to accomplish and how we want to accomplish it (UsabilityNet contextual inquiry).