Quantifying the Impact of Making and Breaking Interface Habits

05/14/2020
by   Diego Garaialde, et al.
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The frequency with which people interact with technology means that users may develop interface habits, i.e. fast, automatic responses to stable interface cues. Design guidelines often assume that interface habits are beneficial. However, we lack quantitative evidence of how the development of habits actually affect user performance and an understanding of how changes in the interface design may affect habit development. Our work quantifies the effect of habit formation and disruption on user performance in interaction. Through a forced choice lab study task (n=19) and in the wild deployment (n=18) of a notificationdialog experiment on smartphones, we show that people become more accurate and faster at option selection as they develop an interface habit. Crucially this performance gain is entirely eliminated once the habit is disrupted. We discuss reasons for this performance shift and analyse some disadvantages of interface habits, outlining general design patterns on how to both support and disrupt them.Keywords: Interface habits, user behaviour, breaking habit, interaction science, quantitative research.

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