A description error or selection error is an error, or more specifically a human error, that occurs when a person performs the correct action on the wrong object. This error can be very disorienting and usually causes a brief loss of situation awareness or automation surprise if noticed right away. But much worse, if it goes unnoticed, it could cause more serious problems. So allowances such as clearly highlighting a selected item should be made in interaction design.
Early aviation safety is a great example. Alphonse Chapanis developed shape coding to help prevent description errors made by pilots when they operated the wrong control in a row of identical controls that did very diverse things. By simply using different shapes for different controls, this type of error was significantly reduced and aviation safety was significantly improved.
Donald Norman describes the subject in his book The Design of Everyday Things. There he describes how user-centered design can help account for human limitations that can lead to errors like description errors. James Reason also covers the subject very thoroughly in his book Human Error.
- Definition at Usabilityfirst.com
- Design Rules Based on Analysis of Human Error, by Donald Norman
- Reducing control selection errors associated with underground bolting equipment
- The Coding of Aircraft Controls
|This design-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|