The Semiotic Engineering of Human-computer InteractioneBook - 2005
A theory of HCI that uses concepts from semiotics and computer science to focus onthe communication between designers and users during interaction.
In The Semiotic Engineering of Human-Computer Interaction, Clarisse Sieckenius deSouza proposes an account of HCI that draws on concepts from semiotics and computer science toinvestigate the relationship between user and designer. Semiotics is the study of signs, and theessence of semiotic engineering is the communication between designers and users at interactiontime; designers must somehow be present in the interface to tell users how to use the signs thatmake up a system or program. This approach, which builds on -- but goes further than -- thecurrently dominant user-centered approach, allows designers to communicate their overall vision andtherefore helps users understand designs -- rather than simply which icon to click.According to deSouza's account, both designers and users are interlocutors in an overall communication process thattakes place through an interface of words, graphics, and behavior. Designers must tell users whatthey mean by the artifact they have created, and users must understand and respond to what they arebeing told. By coupling semiotic theory and engineering, de Souza's approach to HCI designencompasses the principles, the materials, the processes, and the possibilities for producingmeaningful interactive computer system discourse and achieves a broader perspective than cognitive,ethnographic, or ergonomic approaches.De Souza begins with a theoretical overview and detailedexposition of the semiotic engineering account of HCI. She then shows how this approach can beapplied specifically to HCI evaluation and design of online help systems, customization and end-userprogramming, and multiuser applications. Finally, she reflects on the potential and opportunitiesfor research in semiotic engineering.