HCI-based User Case Study:

Understanding user behavioral pattern

under situational specificity

Research Activity during thesis project -- "Interplayable Surface"


RISD, spring semester, 2016,


Analyzing user’s inherent behavioral pattern with HCI methodology

When or where do you usually get information? What kind of information do you usually get access to under the certain circumstance? How do you get information under time pressure? As a theoretical background for actualizing thesis model, understanding the user pattern under situational specificity was demanded to initially map out the overall UX structure of visual interface.

This research aims to methodically analyze people’s informative propensity under certain situational specificity. In order to clarify the behavioral pattern, the HCI9 framework (Individual Sequence Model and Consolidated Sequence Model) will be utilized in clarifying the sequential algorithm of a user’s informative tendency.

* The frames of sequence models showing from the following sections are theoretically cited from the framework introduced in “Sequence Model Analysis,” “Kim, Jin Woo (2012), Human Computer Interaction 개론 pp 254, 255.” On the basis of HCI frames, user behavioral patterns were sequentially reorganized and clarified.

Case 1: User information accessibility under time constraints

In general, people have similar tendencies for retrieving information. Depending on certain situations they have, their behavioral patterns on searching and manipulating information is a bit similar from the experiential viewpoint. We tend to immediately get proper information when the situation requires it, like quickly searching the address of where you should visit, or certain information that helps you to choose the right direction.

For example, when cooking without having proper knowledge or a recipe or getting stuck in the middle of the cooking process, people try to find a way to deal with it. Besides taking a look at a cooking book, they utilize their smartphones. They get access to blogs or websites containing cooking knowhow and put a smartphone displaying a page of the recipe beside the gas range while cooking. Particularly, in the case of getting information within a very short moment, like quickly searching the information about the proper amount of salt when it is time for seasoning, the rapid process of accessing information is demanded at that moment.

Related to those examples above, in order to analyze how people access information under situational specificity, I analyzed several types of user behavioral patterns in the HCI Sequence Model.

The first case is about quickly accessing a bus schedule right during heading to the bus station.

*Based on various types of activities of utilizing application via smartphone under situational specificity, I constructed several versions of user’s behavioral sequence model in order to methodically analyze the algorithm of workflow that each events inherently contains. To introduce, in Figure 5, 7, and 9, user behavioral patterns for getting access to applications via smartphones under certain time conditions will be analyzed in a frame of HCI’s Individual Sequence

Model. And then, in Figure 6, 8, and 10, data will be reorganized and clarified into an activity definition, intention, sequence, and insight keyword in a frame of HCI’s Consolidated Sequence Model.

After framing the algorithm of user-behavioral sequence, a chart below shows the Consolidated Sequence Model in which the behavioral sequential patterns are reorganized into certain criteria.

Under the situational specificity in which simultaneous events are happening at one time, getting provided clarified, clear, informative composition or a solution undisruptive to subsequent activity was significantly important. Likewise, several situations, like verifying the bus number via smartphone right on the verge of getting on a bus or checking the time for entering a facility on the verge of closing time means similar direction points: In terms of informative affordance, purposefulness of informative attributes should directly correspond with the user’s situational specificity.

Case 2: User information accessibility without time pressure

In contrast to the tendency of trying to searching information under limited situational specificity, people tend to show different behavioral pattern when they are not in a situation of immediately accessing information under time pressure.

In other words, it means that they could afford to spend some amounts of time on consuming information they want regardless of situational specificity that psychologically limits the opportunity of being aware of information.

Considering that situation, the contents and medium they utilize can be diverse: when they use digital devices(e.g. smartphone, or tablet pc, laptop), it was frequently observed that they spend their time on mostly watching news, blog,

youtube, or communicating with somebody via SNS(e.g. Facebook, twitter, Instagram). Most of information structures these kinds of applications contain normally consist of densed UI interfaces, combining with graphical interactions.

In terms of providing various informations to users, applications the vast majority of users access like facebook, youtube pursue different kinds of UX strategies, which is distinctive to the other applications aiming for a certain purposefulness.

So, in that sense, considering the fact that the user in an urgent situation could not be fully aware of sufficient amount of information, those not in time pressure can deal with multitasking via devices in terms of productive usability: they

simultaneously read the news feed with listening to music, or even watching the video-clip on youtube.

A HCI Model in next page is about the situation of getting access to schedule app without time pressure.

Same as Case 1 analysis, I reorganized the factors and extracted insights by using consolidated sequence model.

Case 3: User information accessibility via hotkey

Besides the situation of immediately searching for information under situational specificity, users utilize hotkeys in order to directly access what they want to acquire. In this case, the overall access sequence is relatively shorter than the usual sequence for getting access to an application, so the user can rapidly access the application within 1~2 taps. In regards

to applications we can use as hotkeys, those attributes are highly prioritized and commonly usable in the user’s daily life, such as a camera, light, stopwatch, timed alarm, and calculator.

Reviewing sequence behavioral model

Based on insights extracted from consolidated sequence models, key factors for designing informative structures linking with situational specificities are suggested as follows.


Importance of information affordance under situation variable

In selectively collecting information under situational specificity, a simplified, clarified information structure corresponding with a certain direction is crucial for  users to navigate through adequate application. As presented from the usability factor of an HCI framework, user accessibility on accessing and perceiving information is considerably influenced by informative structures, especially under certain situation variables. In particular, usability in the situation of quickly searching information can be affected, fluctuated by the informative affordance the application’s GUI contains. For instance, depending on a certain level or degree of UX sequence algorithm that application intends, user accessibility in different situations can be vary, and users’ ability to recognize information cannot be guaranteed. In similar context, Donald Norman explained in a way that an affordance object contains influencers in how people react to it in terms of relational environment(Norman, 2013)10. From this point, in designing practical usability associated with situational specificity, entailing a UX sequential algorithm aimed for several types of user scenarios has become important to designing proper information affordance in this thesis.

Time-shortening accessibility


Noticeably, in a generic viewpoint, sequence models show some point that time-shortening accessibility for getting access to application is utilized as alternative in regardless of situational specificity. Even in the situation of accessibility to applications user frequently used in non-time constraint conditions, the other optional way to approach applications (e.g. drag down the notification UI from the top of the home screen to verify a schedule or ask Siri about the schedule) became relatively more reasonable in terms of shortening the time to access them, compared to a conventional way of access, like entering through the lock screen at the beginning.

Besides, what is a characteristic of a user-friendly UX system that allows users to easily get access to their most commonly used applications within a very short sequence procedure? For using a daily application the vast majority of people utilize in life, such as a watch, calculator, or lighting application, just by dragging up the notification UI from the top of iPhone’s home screen and clicking the icon, users could quickly approach the application and use it within 2 steps without accessing it through the lock screen.


Existence of alternative

As introduced at Figure 6, providing several alternatives as bypasses to reach information can allow users flexibly to choose the other optional way of getting access to it, depending on a user’s situational specificity.



Flexibility of informational composition depending on a situational specificity



Related to the point of information affordance mentioned from above, in properly navigating certain information users want to find, either an informational amount or structure in an application is crucial for users to choose the selective

information, especially that which is in combination with situational specificity: that is, depending on the degree of informational composition that an application contains within situational specificity, such as being under a time constraint, users’ accessibility and ability to perceive getting information could be irregular and consequently disruptive to approaching proper information. As shown in Case 1 , in case of a situation of urgently finding out the certain information within a limited time, an un-clarified information structure rather hinders the user’s concentration in acquiring suitable information to solve out the external problem. To effectively reach suitable information within a certain circumstance, flexibility of informational structure or composition in application is required.

10. Norman, Don


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