When Input is Output is Input

21 Feb 2009 - 12:35am
5 years ago
7 replies
675 reads
Phillip Hunter
2006

This is somewhat of a nit of a question, but a fellow designer and I
tossed it around and we decided we needed a little outside advice.

We are designing a revision of an internal development tool that
constructs applications that of course interact with people. The
question we have is about the terminology of a piece of the tool that
allows the developer to specify instructions that will be given to a
person and accepts responses back from that person. We think we'd
like to use the terms "input" and "output" as labels, but we're
wondering in which direction they should be used. I.e., is an
instruction to the person "output"? And is their response
"input"? Or is a person's response "output" based in the
instruction? Or should we abandon these two words and use others
such as "request" and "receive"?

Thoughts? Other helpful ideas?

Those using this tool are generally well-educated about the purpose
of it, so poor usability is not too much of an issue. We'd just
like the labels to be clear and make sense.

Thanks,
Phillip

Comments

21 Feb 2009 - 1:33am
Angel Marquez
2008

message

21 Feb 2009 - 1:45am
Shimone Samuel
2009

Hi Phillip - have you considered Request/Response ?

Input/Ouput can easily be mistaken for one another depending on the
context in which they are used. For instance, is this response my
output or am I offering my input? Were you requesting our input or
looking for our output?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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21 Feb 2009 - 3:39am
Eirik Midttun
2009

I think input/output (I/O) makes sense when you interface with a
"closed" system. Meaning there is an inside and an outside, and not
much else to care about.

What you describe Phillip is a communication tool, and then it is a
different game. Request/Response seems OK. The best thing is to just
analyse the system and choose a vocabulary that best describes what
the actors do.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39042

21 Feb 2009 - 4:39am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 20 Feb 2009, at 21:35, Phillip Hunter wrote:
[snip]
> person and accepts responses back from that person. We think we'd
> like to use the terms "input" and "output" as labels, but we're
> wondering in which direction they should be used. I.e., is an
> instruction to the person "output"? And is their response
> "input"? Or is a person's response "output" based in the
> instruction?

I think the fact that you're confused about which choice is correct...

> Or should we abandon these two words and use others
> such as "request" and "receive"?

... answers this question for you :-)

Adrian

21 Feb 2009 - 5:55am
Joel Laumans
2008

Hi Philip,

Good question! I could be wrong but:

I think that in HCI (human computer interaction), in the dialogue
between the user and the system, the user always gives input, and the
system always gives output.

However I think for this situation, the advice from Shimone and Eirik
are good. Try and find vocabulary that best describes the interaction
between the system and the user.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39042

21 Feb 2009 - 10:36am
Mike Myles
2009

I suggest asking some target users what name they would use.

You should also look at similar naming conventions in leading
development tools - Dev. Studio, Eclipse, etc.

I don't know the exact nature of the tool you are designing, but
terminology in the development community is fairly well defined. The
target technology (Java, .NET, XHTML...) may influence the name
choice. There is probably already some accepted standard naming
convention for the types of values you are looking to expose in your
UI. If that's true you should leverage that pre-existing knowledge
in your user base.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39042

27 Feb 2009 - 11:16am
Phillip Hunter
2006

Hey all,

Thanks for the various responses. Like many of you said, I was already supposing that confusion meant seek something different. For now I am going with "Present" and "Receive".

-pnl
ph

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