Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


The paper outlines an approach to the development of intuitively understandable on-screen user interfaces. Users have been found to explain the operation of equipment with screen based user interfaces in terms of handling “objects” and interacting with “agents” in a virtual “space”. These metaphorical descriptions may reflect general and fundamental principles of cognition that are rooted in the evolution of the human species. It is postulated that presentation of information on the interface as scenes, objects and actors can call upon instinctive capacities for direct perceptual information pickup, intuitive cognitive functions and natural behavioral tendencies. In order to initiate learning of complex functions that cannot be perceived directly may necessitate the use of symbolic information. This must be based on an analysis of the most appropriate way to map the new functions to the users’ prior conceptual understanding of technological objects and functions.