DAU Stories - Overview

By Gerd Waloszek

To overview of columns

On my column pages, I present stories and articles covering a number of user interface (UI) design topics. The stories on this page deal with "stupid" users, that is, DAUs (DAU = dumbest assumable users). Usually, it's me. On another page, I discuss general thoughts about UI design. And on still another one, I touch on various UI design issues.

I published these articles on an SAP-internal User Experience Website, but closed that section for a number of reasons in 2008. On this site, I republish my articles (a few have also been published on the SAP Design Guild Website) hoping that some visitors will find them useful and interesting. However, I removed all SAP specifics.

Gerd Waloszek

The Fingers Know – Password Hassles

In this DAU story, I describe how my "finger memory" brought me into password hassles and how I tried to get out of them.

Example screen

Read or Blindly Follow Affordances?

I have to admit that I have to count myself among the people who do not read what's displayed on the screen. It's unbelievable but true – read my DAU story.

Till Eulenspiegel

Baking Owls and Monkeys

In this DAU story, I try to find out what a story about a well-known "fool" from the Middle Ages tells us about user behavior, models thereof, and the role of user experience people.

Poulet de Bresse

A New Use Case Standard – The Automatic Coffee Machine (ACM)

In this DAU story, I suggest two extensions to use cases: use case instances and to add what the user thinks during the interaction. I demonstrate these extensions using a true story involving an automatic coffee machine (ACM) at the French autoroute restaurant Aire du Poulet de Bresse.

Skype call

A Skype Story of Mappings, Standards, and Modes

I recently installed Skype on my Apple Macintosh and eagerly awaited my first incoming call. And then it came, with an alarming ring and a floating window on the screen, asking me to accept the call or reject it. And what did I? I rejected it. Why I did so, you can find in this DAU report, which is somewhat in the vein of Don Normans's POET – it's a story about "natural" mappings, standards, and modes.

Word document

A Story of Lost Files, Mental Models, and Questionable Designs

This time, I tell the sad story – with a happy ending, though – of a student who is working for a colleague of mine. Recently, the student's task was to edit a Word document that my colleague had sent him by e-mail. I took only notice of this when the student, who sits in my room, asked me to help him and find out, together with him, where his Word document had gone that he had edited all day long. "Hmm," I said, "how should I know where you stored your file? What did you do with it?" He told me that he had opened the e-mail attachment in Word, edited it there, and saved it several times using the Save command. Now, at the end of the day, he had saved his work once more and had quit the application. And all of a sudden, he was wondering where the file had been stored on the computer.

Bremer Coffee machine

A Victim of (Violated) Location Constancy

People who are familiar with the psychology of human perception will know that there are several constancy mechanisms implemented in our brains in order to make life easier. For example,

  • Size constancy helps us to recognize people who are far away as human beings, not as flies – as native africans do who live in the jungle and therefore lack this mechanism
  • Color constancy lets us see white shirts as white shirts, not as green ones – as cameras do when you take a photo of someone who wears a white shirt in the forest

Not surprisingly, HCI also has a constancy principle, called location constancy. Problems arise when it is violated...

Mode error

Error of the Day – Mode Error

This time, my story is short and quickly told. I was working with Microsoft Outlook and wanted to look for older e-mails that I had sent to my colleagues asking them for news items for the upcoming portal newsletter. Therefore, I clicked the e-mail folder Newsletter in the Mail bar to the left of the Outlook window. Read, what happened then.

Google search

Google & eBay Driving Me Crazy

At usability conferences, the Websites of Amazon, Google, eBay, and the like usually receive a lot of praise. One reason for the praise they get is their ability to offer related information. For example, when you buy a book at Amazon, they list similar books, which might also be of interest for you. As another example, when you search the Web with Google, Google provides links with related ads to the right of the search hit list. These ads are paid for and one of Google's sources of making money. Usually, I pay little attention to these ads, but this time, I did. Read my story.


Those Easy Modern Times...

I am a heavy user of LEO, an online translation tool that most German Web users will probably know. Yesterday, I thought I'd use a cool feature, which LEO offers for quite a while: the ability to vocalize a word, helping you to pronounce it correctly. "Cool!" I thought, "and easy – all I have to do is click the loudspeaker icon."

Last Revision: 02/01/2009

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Gerd Waloszek
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