Animation in user interface design for decision making: A research framework and empirical analysis
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Animation is becoming an increasingly popular feature in user interfaces. Animation in infoiTnation displays is expected to influence decision making by facilitating and improving the human and computer interaction (HCI). Unfortunately, the use and effect of animated user interfaces for decision making are unknown. How should animated interfaces be designed to improve decision making performance? Answers to this question are crucial to design effective infoi-mation systems that support decision making. This research provides a new conceptual Animation User Interface Design (AUID) research framework for answering this question. In addition, this research empirically evaluates some of the AUID's propositions. The AUID research framework suggests a definition of animation in HCI, defines animation design goals, and presents an ai'chitecture to illustrate decision making with animated interfaces. This framework proposes that animation may support decision making if its design accounts for the task domain and structure; individual difference factors such as visual imaging abilities and experience; and characteristics of the animated interface such as images, alterations, transitions, timing, and interactivity. To explain possible decision making effects, the AUID framework focuses on theories of visual perception and cognition of successive displays. Several research hypotheses are derived from the propositions of the AUID framework. Primary hypotheses test the relative effects of images (realistic and abstract), transitions (gradual and abrupt), and interactivity (parallel and sequential) in two different decision making domains. Secondary hypotheses test the interaction between the animation interface design elements, the task domain, and the individual difference factors. A laboratory experiment was conducted to investigate these hypotheses. The results show that decision making performance in animated interfaces is highly contingent on the properties of the animation user interface such as image type, transition smoothness, and interactivity style as well as sensitive to the task domain. In sum, this reseai-ch suggests that a human information processing approach to design animated interfaces is a powerful one for supporting decision making. To be an effective decision support tool, animation must be smooth, simple, interactive, and explicitly account for the appropriateness of the user's mental model of the task.