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UX design for memory supplementation to support problem-solving tasks in analytic applications

Abstract : This thesis was initiated in the context of enhancing the user experience for analyzing data due to the increase of the volume of data related to this activity. On the one hand, users’ psychological needs for the simple use of analytic applications are paid more attention than before; on the other hand, the task they are willing to conduct is getting more and more complicated, which may cause memory overload that influences the task performance. To ensure that both aspects are taken into account, the designers should provide a proper information and design a proper interface that meets both users’ needs and the requirements of their activity. In this research, we are interested in improving the task recommitment following a task suspension or interruption in the context of a visual data analysis task. The multitasking nature of user actions and limited storage capacity of human working memory cause difficulties in re-engaging an interrupted or suspended task. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a memory supplementation tool that supports users to recommit their task in optimal conditions. A literature review first leads to the positioning of our research on the enactive approach and sensorimotor perception that consider the tool as an artifact configuring the interaction between the user and the task, in two modes the “put down” mode and the “in hand” mode. From this point of view, we have found that the commonly used cognitive memory model ignores the role of interaction with the external world in the formation of the memory, and consequently ignores the “in hand” dimension of the artifacts in one memory construction. Therefore, we complete this model with the embodied memory, which gives us a new perspective to design an appropriate memory tool that serves as a supplementation of our perceptual system. Finally, the design principles in human-computer interaction and UX helped us build a tool and conduct an experimental plan highlighting the link between changes in perception conditions and changes in the dynamics of interaction. As a conclusion, the research problem is introduced in terms of how we can provide users with a relevant context to recommit to resolving a task after interruption. The design proposal needs to be explored, designed and evaluated. The first experiment, the exploratory study, analyzes the perception of interactive applications by experienced designers. This study helped us construct a vocabulary of evaluation of the design for a memory supplementation support and guided us for the design considering these criteria. In the second experiment, we develop a tool based on a function that we call the “history path”, which permits to show, in a specific window of the user interface, some of the steps of a previous task resolution that a user has performed during previous experience (or to simulate a resolution task interruption). We set up a simple (minimalist) experiment simulating a problem-solving task, which was recorded to evaluate the extent to which a history path support can help the user for efficient recovering of an interrupted task. The first part of this experiment allows us to confirm the potential use of this function and helps us explore the design space. In the second part, we experiment two different tools, based on two history path representations, a static one and a dynamic one. The evaluation results allow us to understand the technical conditions of a positive experience for which task recovery is facilitated. In this second experiment, several means for recording the user experience were mobilized: the evaluation of the durations and gaze frequencies on area of interest in the interface window by eye tracking, the recording of the verbalizations during the RTA (Retrospective Think Aloud) session, and the semantic evaluation.
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Lingxue Yang. UX design for memory supplementation to support problem-solving tasks in analytic applications. Human-Computer Interaction [cs.HC]. Université de Technologie de Compiègne, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018COMP2452⟩. ⟨tel-01996474⟩

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