OF SOFTWARE TRAINING
In a recent usability study conducted by Interface Analysis Associates,
24 intermediate to highly experienced computer users were observed while
they were attempting to perform basic tasks in common software applications.
Their interactions with the software were analyzed in terms of length
of time, number of mouse clicks, and successful completion of the tasks
and when compared to optimal performance standards. The results showed
that, on average, participants either took longer and used more mouse
clicks than necessary to successfully perform common computer tasks, or
they couldnt figure out how to complete a task. In the end, the
study suggests that for every 8 hours of computer work, the same work
could have been performed in only 40 minutes if the software training
had been provided!
During these periods of inefficiency, participants were observed for
body postures and other behaviors, such as facial expressions (indicators
of frustration or stress) and verbal utterances. These observations
revealed the impact of software inefficiency in four main areas:
Time: The more inefficient
we are as computer users, the more time we spend sitting in front
of the computer. The negative effects of prolonged sitting include
poor circulation; muscle fatigue; back, shoulder, and neck pain;
eye strain; and more.
Repetitions: Inefficiency results
in more mouse clicks and keystrokes, that is, higher repetitions.
Posture: Our postures change
when we cant easily accomplish our goals with our computer
software. For example, we lean forward, we hold the mouse with our
arm outstretched and shoulder raised, and ultimately we lose the
basis for the support of good body posture.
Stress: With each failed attempt
to carry out a specific action or command with our computer software,
we experience higher levels of stress, frustration, and time pressure.
Conclusions and Guidelines
Computer users are encouraged to explore ways to improve their computer
interaction efficiency and seek training in the software programs and
operating systems they use in their workplaces. Indeed, most of the participants
indicated that their interactions with software would be more efficient
with formal training.