UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supporting feature awareness and improving performance with personalized graphical user interfaces Findlater, Leah


Personalized graphical user interfaces have the potential to reduce visual complexity and improve efficiency by modifying the interface to better suit an individual user's needs. Working in a personalized interface can make users faster, more accurate and more satisfied; in practice, however, personalization also comes with costs, such as a reliance on user effort to control the personalization, or the introduction of spatial instability when interface items are reorganized automatically. We conducted a series of studies to examine both the costs and benefits of personalization, and to identify techniques and contexts that would be the most likely to provide an overall benefit. We first interviewed long-term users of a software application that provides adaptable (user-controlled) personalization. A design trade-off that emerged is that while personalization can increase the accessibility of features useful to a user's current task, it may in turn negatively impact the user's awareness of the full set of available features. To assess this potential trade-off, we introduced awareness as an evaluation metric to be used alongside more standard performance measures and we ran a series of three studies to understand how awareness relates to core task performance. These studies used two different measures to assess awareness, showing that personalization can impact both the recognition rate of unused features in the interface and user performance on new tasks requiring those features. We investigated both adaptive (system-controlled) and adaptable personalization techniques to help us understand the generalizability of the awareness concept. In addition to introducing and incorporating awareness into our evaluations, we studied how specific contextual and design characteristics impact the user's experience with adaptive interfaces. In one study, we evaluated the impact of screen size on performance and user satisfaction with adaptive split menus. Results showed that the performance and satisfaction benefits of spatially reorganizing items in the interface are more likely to outweigh the costs when screen size is small. We also introduced a new adaptive personalization technique that maintains spatial stability, called ephemeral adaptation, and evaluated it through two studies. Ephemeral adaptation improves performance over both another closely related adaptive technique and a traditional interface.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International