Human factors studies with system message styles (abstract only)

TitleHuman factors studies with system message styles (abstract only)
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1981
AuthorsShneiderman B
JournalACM SIGSOC Bulletin
Pagination138– - 138–
Date Published1981/05//
ISBN Number0163-5794

Computer systems often contain messages which are imprecise ('SYNTAX ERROR'), hostile ('FATAL ERROR, RUN ABORTED'), cryptic ('IEH291H'), or obscure ('CTL DAMAGE, TRANS ERR'). Such messages may be acceptable to computer professionals who regularly use a specific system, but they lead to frustration for novices and for professionals who are using new features or facilities.We have conducted five studies using COBOL compiler syntax errors and text editor command errors to measure the impact of improving the wording of system messages. The results indicate that increased specificity, more positive tone, and greater clarity can improve correction rates and user satisfaction.An overview of the experimental results will be presented along with guidelines for writing system messages.