The effects of tool container location on user performance in graphical user interfaces
A common way of organizing Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers (WIMP) interfaces is to group tools into tool containers, providing one visual representation. Common tool containers include toolbars and menus, as well as more complex tool containers, like Microsoft Office’s Ribbon, Toolglasses, and marking menus. The location of tool containers has been studied extensively in the past using Fitts’s Law, which governs selection time; however, selection time is only one aspect of user performance. In this thesis, I show that tool container location affects other aspects of user performance, specifically attention and awareness. The problem investigated in this thesis is that designers lack an understanding of the effects of tool container location on two important user performance factors: attention and group awareness. My solution is to provide an initial understanding of the effects of tool container location on these factors. In solving this problem, I developed a taxonomy of tool container location, and carried out two research studies. The two research studies investigated tool container location in two contexts: single-user performance with desktop interfaces, and group performance in tabletop interfaces. Through the two studies, I was able to show that tool container location does affect attention and group awareness, and to provide new recommendations for interface designers.
awareness, attention, graphical user interfaces, user performance, Tool containers
Master of Science (M.Sc.)