Publication: Supporting Novice to Expert Transitions in User Interfaces

Interface design guidelines encourage designers to provide high-performance mechanisms for expert users. However, research shows that many expert interface components are seldom used and that there is a tendency for users to persistently fail to adopt faster methods for completing their work. This article summarizes and organizes research relevant to supporting users in making successful transitions to expert levels of performance. First, we provide a brief introduction to the underlying human factors of skill acquisition relevant to interaction with computer systems. We then present our focus, which is a review of the state of the art in user interfaces that promote expertise development. The review of interface research is based around four domains of performance improvement: intramodal improvement that occurs as a factor of repetition and practice with a single method of interaction; intermodal improvement that occurs when users switch from one method to another that has a higher performance ceiling; vocabulary extension, in which the user broadens his or her knowledge of the range of functions available; and task mapping, which examines the ways in which users perform their tasks. The review emphasizes the relationship between interface techniques and the human factors that explain their relative success.




Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan
Joey Scarr Sylvain Malacria


Cockburn, A., Gutwin, C., Scarr, J., Malacria, S. 2014. Supporting Novice to Expert Transitions in User Interfaces. In ACM Computing Surveys, vol. 47 no. 2, 37 pages. DOI=10.1145/2659796.


@article {411-supporting-novice,
author= {Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin and Joey Scarr and Sylvain Malacria},
title= {Supporting Novice to Expert Transitions in User Interfaces},
booktitle= {ACM Computing Surveys},
year= {2014},
volume= {47},
number= {2},
pages= {37 pages}