Using a Design Science Research Approach in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Project: Experiences, Lessons and Future Directions

Using a Design Science Research Approach in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Project: Experiences, Lessons and Future Directions

Muhammad Nazrul Islam (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Military Institute of Science and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJVAR.2017070103
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Design science is a problem-solving approach that focuses on how to develop and produce artifacts having desired properties. A Design Science Research (DSR) approach was followed to develop a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) artifact (semiotic framework [Semiotic Interface sign Design and Evaluation – the SIDE framework]) to help practitioners to design and evaluate the web interfaces. The objective of this paper is to present how a DSR approach was adopted in a HCI project and to highlight what lessons were learned by adopting the DSR approach in developing a HCI artifact. This paper outlines how the principles and guidelines of DSR approach were adopted, while performing the activities of the DSR process model to construct the artifact. Lessons learned from this case study and their implications in HCI research are also discussed; that includes, for example, DSR provides higher level of procedural transparency, maintains the research rigor, create a bridge between the HCI and IS, provides established research knowledge base, support to claim both as an approach and a paradigm, and facilitates to employ both inductive and deductive design activities.
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Design science is described as an innovative problem-solving activity (Venable, 2006) which aims to create innovations that define the ideas, practices, technical capabilities and products having desired properties through which analysis, design, implementation and use of software systems can be effectively achieved (Hevner et al., 2004; Carlsson, 2005). In other words, DSR focuses on the creation of innovative IT-artifacts to solve real-world problems. DSR thus provides new knowledge, technical capabilities, practices, and products through the design of innovative artifacts and the evaluation of performance of these artifacts (Hevner et al., 2004; March & Storey, 2008; Vaishnavi & Kuechler, 2004).

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a discipline primarily focusing on design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive systems. The ACM special interest group of CHI defines HCI as “a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them” (ACM SIGCHI, 1992). In fact, HCI studies how a computer system is designed more practically, more easily, and more intuitively; and it also studies how users interact with such computer systems (Fetaji et al., 2007).

HCI focuses on interactions that occur between the users and the technology, for example, how do artifacts related to information technology impact the human experience, and how human experience impact the design of new information systems? At the same time, HCI is design-oriented, a community where scholars seek to design and evaluate new IT artifacts (e.g., User interface design of websites), and improve user experiences for that IT artifact (Prestopnik, 2013). In this research, we develop the Semiotic Interface sign Design and Evaluation (SIDE) framework as a HCI artifact in order to design and evaluate web interface signs. From the methodological perspective, a DSR approach was followed in this research.

Web user interfaces encompassed a number of interface signs, that includes, for example, navigational links, thumbnails, small images, command buttons, symbols, icons, and the like (see Figure 1). These signs act as the communication artifacts between the users and designers/systems (see Figure 1). Examples of interface signs are Interaction between users and web systems is mediated via web interfaces, and in particular interface signs since the content and functions of web systems are directed primarily through interface signs. Thus, at the low level, end users are required to interpret the ‘interface signs’ of user interfaces to understand the system’s logic and to perform tasks (Derboven et al., 2003). Thus, designing user-intuitive interface signs and evaluating the intuitiveness of interface signs become essential in the UI design and usability evaluation process (De Souza, 2005; Islam, 2010; Islam, 2013a). Consequently, Bolchini et al. (2009) suggested ‘interface signs’ as one of the major dimensions of web UI design and usability evaluation. However, very few studies explicitly focused on interface signs in UI design and evaluation (Speroni et al., 2006).

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