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Until recently, designers who set out to design user interfaces that are intuitive to use, innovative and inclusive of users of different ages did not receive much support to reach all three goals in one solution. It was assumed that products that are intuitive to use could not also be innovative or inclusive, because they would have to rely on mimicking previous technologies to tap the prior knowledge of their users. In this paper, we propose image-schema methodology as a tool to circumvent this problem. We show how image schemas can be applied within a user-centred design process using Contextual Design methodology. The evaluation of the resulting interactive prototype of an audio entertainment application shows that the requirements for inclusive design, intuitive use and innovativeness can all be reached in the same product. These results are promising, and open up new directions for further research.
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Advance Access publication on 9 January 2015 doi:10.1093/iwc/iwu049
Designing with Image Schemas:
Resolving the Tension Between
Innovation, Inclusion and Intuitive Use
Jörn Hurtienne1,, Kerstin Klöckner2, Sarah Diefenbach3, Claudia Nass4
and Andreas Maier4
1Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Oswald-Külpe-Weg 82, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
2TÜV Rheinland i-sec GmbH, Saarbrücken, Germany
3Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, Germany
4Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE, Kaiserslautern, Germany
Corresponding author: joern.hurtienne@uni-wuerzburg.de
Until recently, designers who set out to design user interfaces that are intuitive to use, innovative
and inclusive of users of different ages did not receive much support to reach all three goals in one
solution. It was assumed that products that are intuitive to use could not also be innovative or inclusive,
because they would have to rely on mimicking previous technologies to tap the prior knowledge of
their users. In this paper, we propose image-schema methodology as a tool to circumvent this problem.
We show how image schemas can be applied within a user-centred design process using Contextual
Design methodology. The evaluation of the resulting interactive prototype of an audio entertainment
application shows that the requirements for inclusive design, intuitive use and innovativeness can all
be reached in the same product. These results are promising, and open up new directions for further
research.
RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
Contrary to prior belief, it is possible to design products that at the same time are intuitive to use, innovative
and inclusive of older users.
This is shown with the example of an audio entertainment application using an image-schema augmented
Contextual Design process.
The core activities added include extracting image-schematic metaphors from users’subconscious mental
models and using these in the design phase.
Keywords: intuitive use; inclusive design; innovation; image schemas; conceptual metaphors; contextual
design
Received 18 March 2014; Revised 27 November 2014; Accepted 5 December 2014
1. INTRODUCTION
An ageing population needs products that include diverse users
regardless of their physical or mental capabilities. Companies
need to offer products and services that are innovative to set
them apart from the competition and to appeal to younger and
more tech-savvy users. For all of the population, products that
are intuitive to use are needed, that is products that can be
interacted with based on the effortless use of prior knowledge.
Very often, it is deemed unachievable that a product is inclusive,
innovative and intuitive to use—all at the same time (see below).
In this paper, we discuss this tension and propose image-schema
methodology that aims to achieve all three goals. We also show
that applying this method to user-interface design can facilitate
achieving all three goals at the same time in the same product.
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236 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
2. THE TENSION BETWEEN INTUITIVE
INTERACTION, INCLUSIVENESS AND
INNOVATION
Our world needs products that are inclusive, innovative and
intuitive to use. When an interface is intuitive to use, it often
means that it operates like something else that is already familiar
to its users (Raskin, 1994). More specifically, intuitive use
has been defined as ‘the extent to which a product can be
used by subconsciously applying prior knowledge, resulting
in an effective and satisfying interaction using a minimum of
cognitive resources’ (Hurtienne, 2011, p. 29). This definition
is very close to the definitions brought forward by Blackler
(2006) and the IUUI group (Intuitive Use of User Interfaces,
Mohs et al., 2006;Naumann et al., 2007). In order to achieve
intuitive use, the retrieval of knowledge in interaction needs to
be sufficiently automated to be applied subconsciously. This can
be achieved through extensive training with the product or by
drawing on knowledge from elsewhere that has been implicitly
learned and repeatedly used (for a more extensive discussion,
see Hurtienne, 2011).
Inclusive products are defined to be usable by the widest
range of users, regardless of their personal background, know-
ledge or abilities (cf. BS 7000-6; BSI, 2005). Most prominently,
inclusive design has been discussed in the context of demo-
graphic change1(Coleman et al., 2003;Hurtienne et al., 2009a;
Persad et al., 2007). People of all ages should be able to use
products in an effective and satisfying manner. But the driving
variables are not old age per se but rather the accompanying
changes that pose challenges to user-interface design.A number
of studies have been looking at the perceptual and motor
variables that change with age, but less well researched are the
consequences of a change in cognitive abilities for interaction
design. Apart from a general decline in cognitive abilities such
as working memory span and speed of information processing
(e.g. Blackler et al., 2010;Fisk et al., 2009;Huppert, 2003;
Langdon et al., 2003;Reddy et al., 2010), the amount and type
of knowledge people have is important for user-interface design
(Blackler, 2006;Bradley et al., 2013;Langdon et al., 2007;
Lewis et al., 2008).
A common belief is that user interfaces for older users should
just look like the technology they are already familiar with.
Empirical findings that support this notion include the concept
of technology generations denoting cohorts of older people that
have had roughly the same experience with technology during
their ‘formative years’. For example, people born before 1960
belong to the ‘electro-mechanical generation’, most familiar
with mechanical buttons that are mapped 1:1 on their functions,
1Although most prominent in the literature, demographic change is not the
only area of inclusive design. It also includes designing for users with motor,
sensory or cognitive impairments as well as differing cultural backgrounds.
Because design for ageing requires the consideration of typical declines in
motor, sensory and cognitive skills, focussing on older individuals can provide
a more general approach for estimating the effects of inclusive design.
for example, on TV sets and remote controls. People born in
1960 or later belong to the ‘display and menu generation’ that
is familiar with displays showing symbols and more indirect
interaction where access to functions is mode-dependant. Tech-
nology generations have been shown to explain declining
performance when interacting with technology in addition to
general cognitive decline to be seen in old age (Docampo Rama,
2001;Docampo Rama et al., 2001).
The notion of technology generations means that, to be
successful, products need to be designed in a way that matches
the technology that was available during users’formative years.
Matching the prior knowledge of users makes a product more
intuitive to use, because users can easily find the relevant
displays and controls, and know how to read and operate these.
But such a design is not inclusive in the sense of the definition
above. When each technology generation gets bespoke user
interfaces, the resulting designs only cater for one particular
user group (belonging to that generation) and, by definition,
cannot be inclusive any more.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English (2010),
innovative products go beyond the state of the art in that they
are new, advanced and original. Hassenzahl (2003), in his
discussion of hedonic product attributes, adds that products
need to be stimulating, novel and exciting, because of their
functionality, context, presentation or interaction style.
Given the above definitions of intuitive use and innovative
products, there is another tension between satisfying the goals of
designing new and original products and those that are intuitive
to use. We cannot design advanced products if we merely
accommodate the user’s knowledge about prior technology in
the user interface. Or as Raskin (1994) has put it: If a design is
to be innovative, it must be superior.
But if it is to be superior, it must be different. (Typically, the greater
the improvement, the greater the difference.) Therefore, it cannot
be intuitive, that is, familiar. [...] That quality of a new interface
paradigm that is commonly titled ‘intuitive’ may well turn out to be
one of the worst qualities it can have. (Raskin, 1994, p. 18).
In short, the tension is argued like this: user interfaces that
are intuitive to use hamper progress. But progress in user-
interface design is something that seems inevitable. Marketing
departments always need to tout new products to the already-
satiated customers. Technology is moving forward, and enables
new functionality and interaction possibilities that never before
have been possible. But how can these new functionalities be
conveyed to the user, when the design (with the goal of being
inclusive or intuitive to use) is reduced to mimicking previous
technology not capable of these functionalities?
A general approach to tackle this is reality-based interaction.
Jacob et al. (2008) proposed basing user-interface designs on
knowledge about physical, bodily, environmental and social
relationships in the real world. The authors are aware, however,
that, similar to applying user-interface metaphors, there remains
a tension between what can be done in the real world and what
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Designing with Image Schemas 237
is possible in the interface (i.e. the magic of what is possible
with computers going beyond reality; cf. Alty et al., 2000).
Take, for example, the design of a new application that allows
for audio entertainment, that is, listening to the radio, to CDs
or to other pre-recorded content. Such a music player could be
connected to the Social Web, making it possible to show which
of one’s friends is also listening to the same radio channel.
There also may be a function to record and playback selected
radio content (e.g. the news report) as desired. The functionality
of such a device would be able to also cover the demands of
older users. The main requirements of older users, even the
oldest old, are (1) that they can lead an independent life feeling
competent and in control, and (2) that they like listening to music
as it can influence their mood and bring back memories of the
past. And (3) older people worry about social contact with their
families, but also neighbours and peers (Center for Technology
and Aging, 2009; Kemper and Lacal, 2004;Naumann et al.,
2011).
In the technology generation framework, the most successful
design for those born before 1960 would be that of an old radio
with two buttons for volume control and tuning and a scale for
tuning in to specific frequencies or stations. For the recording
and playback functionality, a metaphor of recording and playing
reel-to-reel audiotapes could be used.2The social component
(who listens to what) would be a truly new functionality that
is unlikely to call up a metaphor taken from old technology.
The result would not only be an app that is highly specific to
this one user group, but also a wild mix of metaphors from
different technologies, including a new design component for
social contacts. As a consequence, such a design would not look
very innovative because old components have been recombined.
It would not be inclusive because it is designed just for one
user group (people born before 1960) and the design might
not appeal to other (younger) users. In addition, the mixture of
metaphors is not very likely to be intuitive to use because it
causes hiccups during use as people need to apply and stitch
together knowledge from different technology domains when
interacting. This violates another principle of intuitive use: be
consistent (cf. Blackler, 2006;Hurtienne, 2011;Nielsen, 1989).
Thus, we need to find a way of designing this app for audio
entertainment that is intuitive to use, inclusive of many user
groups and yet has innovative appeal. As technology knowledge
for diverse user groups is bound to differ, but intuitive use by
definition depends on prior knowledge, a fruitful way may be
to look for prior knowledge at a different level that is shared
by all age groups. Reality-based interaction (Jacob et al., 2008)
may be a good approach to start with, because it points us to
use existing knowledge about the world. And we want to look
for the very basic things that are shared by everybody.
2Reel-to-reel tape decks, for example, had a penetration of 25% of German
households in 1962 and were most often bought by 15-to-25 year olds, i.e. people
who were born between 1937 and 1947 and who were in their formative years
at this time (‘Tonbandgerät’, n.d.).
Some of this basic shared world knowledge is described by
the theory of image schemas and primary metaphors (Grady,
1997;Johnson, 1987;Lakoff and Johnson, 1980,1999). This
theory will be described in the next section. Then, we briefly
review related work that has successfully applied image-schema
theory to user-interface design. The primary goal of this paper
then is to show how image schemas can be applied as part of
a user-centred design process. Using the example of an audio
entertainment application, we introduce a new user-interface
design process and evaluate the prototype with regard to the
three goals of inclusiveness, intuitive use and innovation. We
then discuss the results of the study with regard to the possibility
of designing user interfaces with image-schematic metaphors
that are intuitive, innovative and inclusive. In the last section, we
summarize the results of the study and identify open questions
for further research.
3. IMAGE SCHEMAS AND PRIMARY METAPHORS
The original conception of image schemas lies in cognitive
linguistics (Johnson, 1987;Lakoff, 1987). Simple everyday
experiences such as seeing objects being inside or outside of
containers, being up or down in vertical space or being at the
centre or at the periphery of a spatial scene are eventually
coded in words (e.g. in,out,high,low,central,peripheral,
cf. Mandler, 2004). These words are not only used to describe
spatial scenes, but also to talk about abstract concepts. So, we
would use expressions such as to fall in love,spirits are up,
or that’s of peripheral concern in which we do not draw on
the literal meanings of in,up and peripheral, but on abstract
(metaphorical) meanings of these words. Lakoff and Johnson
(1980) pointed out that these metaphorical uses of words with a
primary physical meaning are far too common in language and
across languages to be treated as simple forms as polysemy
where one word has many unrelated meanings. Instead of
being linguistic quirks, these metaphorical uses of words must
be based on how we conceptually understand the world. For
example, we conceptualize emotions as containers in which we
can be (to fall in love,he was acting out of spite). Emotions
can also be conceptualized on a vertical axis: our mood can be
depressed or skyrocketing. Important issues are conceptualized
as being central and unimportant issues are conceptualized as
being peripheral.
The view of seeing dead linguistic metaphors as conceptual
metaphors revolutionized the way linguists look at metaphors
in language. It needs, however, also to be explained how it is
possible that conceptual metaphors emerge. The basic idea is
summarized by Johnson (1987) who developed the theory of
image schemas and Grady (1997) who developed the theory of
primary metaphors. Johnson (1987, p. xiv) proposed that ‘an
image schema is a recurring, dynamic pattern of perceptual
interactions and motor programs that gives coherence and
structure to our experience’. In the above examples, container,
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238 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
up-down and centre-periphery would all be image schemas
that developed from recurring and similar interactions with
the world that leave traces in the brain. The experience with
containers of all kinds, for example jars, glasses, clothes, rooms
and our own bodies, results in the mental representation of a
very abstract container image schema. Each container can
be described formally as consisting of an inside and an outside,
separated by a boundary.
Once such an image schema is formed, it can be instantiated
in different ways. The container image schema, for example,
can be instantiated in language by the words in or out or,ina
user interface, as a text entry field. The experiential acquisition
of other spatial image schemas is similar: The foundation of the
image-schema up-down is the experience of gravity and of the
image-schema centre-periphery it may be the experience of us
being the perceptual centre of our world to which things can be
near or far (Johnson, 1987). Other image schemas derive from
force-dynamic experiences such as attraction, blockage,
diversion, or are derived from prevalent object characteristics
such as big-small, bright-dark, heavy-light.
For the current set of image schemas used in this paper,
see Table 1. The list is taken from earlier work (Hurtienne,
2011), and draws on the inventories of image schemas given in
the original philosophical work by Johnson (1987) and other
image schemas derived from linguistic analyses (cf. Baldauf,
1997;Clausner and Croft, 1999;Hampe, 2005;Talmy, 2005),
psychological studies (cf. Gibbs and Colston, 1995) and from
the authors’ previous analyses of existing user interfaces.
Grady (1997) assumes that a recurrent co-activation of
an image schema with a specific subjective experience or
judgement leads to a permanent co-activation of these domains
in the brain that can also be activated when the physical stimulus
is absent. The vertical level of a liquid in a container, for
example, correlates with the quantity of the liquid; the amount
of paper in a pile correlates with the vertical extension of the
pile, and so on. Hence, in many contexts, quantity is connected
to verticality. According to Grady (1997), in learning about the
world as infants, these connections between the image-schema
up-down and the domain of quantity are automatically learned
as well. Through repeated experience with different quantities
in different contexts, these connections become generalized.As
a result, verticality is connected with quantities of all sorts—
including non-physical quantities that are conceptualized on
an up-down axis like in the expressions inflation is rising
or The gross domestic product is at an all time low. This
conceptual connection between the image-schema up-down and
quantity that developed from repeated experience is the primary
metaphor, or, as we may also call it, the image-schematic
metaphor. The notation of image-schematic metaphors follows
the convention target domain is image schema, hence in the
example: more is upless is down, and in the other examples
above: emotions are containers,happy is upsad is down,
important is centralunimportant is peripheral.
The invariance hypothesis states that image schemas also
structure more complex and abstract expressions that are not
straightforward examples of primary metaphors (Lakoff, 1990).
For example, one could describe a love relationship as a journey:
Look how far we’ve come. I don’t think this relationship is going
anywhere. It’s a dead-end street. Even if such metaphorical
expressions do not seem to directly involve an image schema
as the source domain, according to the invariance hypothesis,
image schemas are still at the heart of the metaphorical
mappings from the source domain of journeys to the target
domain of relationships. Image schemas form the structure that
is transferred from the source to the target domain. In the above
expressions, the path image schema provides the main structure
for understanding the metaphor. The same thinking applies to
more complex user-interface metaphors. In the desktop user-
interface metaphor, for example, the trashcan instantiates the
mapping deleting files is using a trashcan. At the heart of
the mapping is the structure conveyed by the image schemas
compulsion and path (throwing/dragging files into the trash
can) as well as container and full-empty. The trashcan as a
container holds files, shows different states of being full or
empty, and files can be retrieved if needed. Note that the image
schema only describes the abstract structure. The concrete
instantiation of the image schemas, for example, whether the
container takes the form of a paper basket or a garbage bin, is
determined by the designer based on the specific circumstances
of the usage situation.
Table 1. List of image schemas used in the empirical study.
Group Image schemas
basic object, substance
space centre-periphery, contact, front-back, left-right, location, near-far, path, rotation, scale, up-down
containment container, content, full-empty, in-out, surface
multiplicity collection, count-mass, linkage, matching, merging, part-whole, splitting
process cycle, iteration, superimposition
force attraction, balance, blockage, compulsion, counterforce, diversion, enablement, momentum, resistance,
restraint removal, self-motion
attribute big-small, bright-dark, fast-slow, hard-soft, heavy-light, smooth-rough, straight, strong-weak,
warm-cold
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Designing with Image Schemas 239
Note, that most user-interface metaphors, like the desktop
metaphor, use more complex transfers from one domain
to another. Most authors theorizing about user-interface
metaphors are aware of conceptual metaphor theory (of which
primary metaphors and image schemas are important elements,
cf. Lakoff and Johnson, 1999). The theory is often used as
a justification for why user-interface metaphors should be
intuitive to use, but it is mostly applied to complex compound
metaphors (cf. Neale and Carroll, 1997). Relying too much
on complex real-world metaphors, however, can get designers
stuck with unwanted constraints the metaphor introduces.
Applying the invariance hypothesis to reasoning about user-
interface metaphors can help. It claims that the mappings
in rich metaphors are constrained by image schemas. Image
schemas help in maintaining the essential structure of complex
metaphors. At the same time, they can free user interfaces from
mimicking existing technological and cultural artefacts.
Thus, if thinking about abstract domains is hardly possible
without using conceptual metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson,
1980,1999), and if image schemas structure most metaphorical
mappings (the invariance hypothesis; Lakoff, 1990), then
image schemas should be regularly involved in thinking about
abstract domains. Because image schemas and the primary
metaphors are frequently activated by repeated occurrence in
the world, they eventually become subconscious. This makes
them effortlessly accessible to the mind.
To summarize, image schemas and conceptual metaphors
are highly abstract representations of experiences in the
world that manifest themselves in language, images, behaviour
and so on. Applied to user-interface design, the invariance
hypothesis implies that image schemas are involved in forming
the underlying structure of understanding more complex and
abstract task domains and users’ mental models.3
If so, then the advantage for the user-interface designer
is that the image schemas of the user’s mental model are
instantiated in the user’s language and behaviour. The designer
may infer the image-schematic structure of users’mental models
by listening closely to how people talk about the application
domain. The designer can then use the extracted image-
schematic metaphors as prescriptions for the structure of the
user interface. Thus, image schemas are able to be used in the
whole user-centred design cycle from requirements analysis
through to design and evaluation. Given the universality of
image schemas as a description language for users’ mental
models and design solutions alike, image schemas could
act as a kind of meta-language for user-interface design
3Users’ mental models, as understood here, include conscious and
subconscious mental representations that help the users understand and operate
an interactive product. This view combines the traditional notion of consciously
accessible mental models with what Rasmussen (1986) called the ‘dynamic
world model’. The dynamic world model subconsciously runs a simulation of
events in the world and thus helps in understanding and predicting events in
the world. Image schemas and image-schematic metaphors are included in this
subconscious part of the mental model (for a more thorough discussion, see
Hurtienne, 2011, chapters 2 and 3).
(Hurtienne, 2011). Image-schematic metaphors are also to
a large extent comparable across languages and cultures
(cf. Cienki, 1998;Kövecses, 2005;Löffler, Lindner, and
Hurtienne, 2014;Neumann, 2001).
If we assume a theory of intuitive use that defines intuitive use
as ‘the subconscious application of prior knowledge that leads
to effective interaction’ (Mohs et al., 2006), then instantiating
image-schematic metaphors in user interfaces should make
these more intuitive to use (Hurtienne, 2011). In addition,
because image schemas and primary metaphors develop from
basic experiences in daily life, different user populations should
conceptualize primary metaphors in basically the same ways.
Thus, instantiating image schemas and primary metaphors in
user interfaces should make inclusive interaction more likely
(cf. Hurtienne et al., 2009a). Third, image schemas and primary
metaphors are very abstract representations of the world, so
that using these as guidance for interface design leaves enough
room for designers to decide how to instantiate them. If they
wish, using the abstract language of image schemas, they
can build innovative and stimulating user interfaces that do
not necessarily need to mimic already well-known and well-
established technologies. Thus, using image schemas in design
may alleviate the tensions between intuitive use, inclusiveness
and innovation.
4. PREVIOUS WORK USING IMAGE SCHEMAS
IN USER-INTERFACE DESIGN
Previous research has established the general validity of the
theoretical claims of image schema theory in interaction design.
A number of studies have confirmed that people actually
activate image-schematic metaphors when interacting with
technology (Hurtienne, 2011;Hurtienne et al., 2009b,2010;
Macaranas et al., 2012;Montello et al., 2003). Although these
studies established that image-schematic metaphors could be
principally employed to achieve intuitive use and inclusive
design, they did not use image schema theory for actual design
projects.
A number of studies have shown that image schemas can
be usefully employed in single stages of a user-centred design
process. Image schemas were used to analyse users’ mental
models from think-aloud protocols (web-browsing: Maglio and
Matlock, 1999; navigation in airports: Raubal, 1997;Raubal and
Worboys, 1999) and from whole-body movements (interactive
musical environment: Bakker et al., 2009). Image-schematic
metaphors were also used to inspire user-interface design
(bookmarking and time-planning applications: Lund, 2003;
whole-body interaction with sound: Antle et al., 2008,2009),
to influence the aesthetic qualities of products (jugs and alarm
clocks: van Rompay et al., 2005) and to critique existing design
solutions (educational music software: Wilkie et al., 2009).
These studies are encouraging as they show the general
applicability of image schemas at several stages of design, but
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240 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
they are also limited. First, these studies do not investigate
the use of image schemas for building user interfaces that
are innovative, inclusive and intuitive to use at the same
time. Second, none of these studies goes the full cycle of
a human-centred design process. In particular, the transition
from requirements to design solutions has been identified as
a problem for design, because here the switch from analysis
to synthesis must take place (cf. Dubberly et al., 2008;Pahl
et al., 2007). If the promise is for image schemas to act as a
metalanguage for design, they must be able to cover all phases of
the human-centred design cycle and be able to close the ‘design
gap’ (Wood, 1998).
Image schemas have been applied in a full user-centred
design process in two studies by Hurtienne et al. (2008a,b) (see
Hurtienne, 2011, for a summary discussion of both studies). In
these, image schemas were used in the redesign of a business
software application in an accounting department. The task of
the users was the verification and posting of invoices that were
sent to the company, a large German beverage corporation. The
studies were oriented along the four activities of the user-centred
design cycle after ISO 9241-210 (ISO, 2010): analyse the
context of use, specify requirements, produce design solutions
and evaluate designs. In the context-of-use analysis, individual
accountants were observed and interviewed at their workplace.
Image schemas were then extracted from a model of the task
sequence, the users’ utterances, the existing user interfaces and
descriptions of the interaction between user and computer. In
the requirement specification, the derived requirements (e.g.
Support that payment deadlines are met) were complemented
with the image schemas from the analyses (e.g. attraction).
In the next phase, design solutions were developed step-by-
step for each of these individual requirement-image-schemas
couplings before they were synthesized into an overall solution.
Two versions were built: a purely graphical user-interfacedesign
(Hurtienne et al., 2008b) and a tangible-graphic hybrid design
(Hurtienne et al., 2008a). Finally, the solutions were tested with
users in a pluralistic walkthrough using a paper storyboard of the
new interaction design, measuring pragmatic quality (usability)
of the prototypes and how innovative these were. The results
revealed that, compared with their original accounting software,
users judged the graphical UI prototype to be significantly
more pragmatic to use (and only slightly more innovative).
The hybrid tangible-graphical UI prototype was judged to be
significantly more innovative (and only slightly more pragmatic
to use).
Although these two studies were the first to show that image
schemas could be successfully applied throughout a human-
centred design cycle, they have several limitations. First, the
methodology employed was closely tied to the design task at
hand: redesigning an existing business software. The usage of
the software was quite consistent across users and followed a
pre-specified workflow. This allowed segregating the task into
several steps that neatly structured the analysis and redesign
phases. With consumer products, however, users are untrained
and such workflow-oriented design processes can rarely be
followed. Users have much shorter interaction episodes that are
likely to be quite variable. Using image schemas in the design of
consumer products, therefore, needs to allow for designing more
unstructured usage patterns. Second, including image schemas
in the analysis phase produced a large amount of extra effort
for the designers, because image schemas were extracted in
the task flow, the users’ utterances, the existing user interface
and the single steps in the user-system interaction. Subsequent
analyses of inter-coder agreement revealed that especially for
task flow and user-system interaction, the inter-coder agreement
was unacceptably low, so that the resulting image schemas were
not reliable enough to be used for further action (Hurtienne,
2011, study 6). These types of analyses could therefore be
dropped from the procedure. Third, the evaluation with users
was conducted on the basis of paper storyboards, which might
have led to too much speculation about the real usage of the final
product. Fourth, due to the very small sample sizes (N =5),
the statistical power of the evaluation was too low to show
reliably that innovativeness and intuitive use (here measured
as the ‘pragmatic quality of use’) can be present in the same
prototypes. Fifth, the inclusiveness of the prototypes did not
play a role in these studies.
Against the background of the previous work, the objectives
of the present study were as follows:
(i) With regard to the design process: to develop
a multi-purpose design process by incorporating
lessons learned from previous work, to extend the
design process to the design of consumer products
and to incorporate standard user-interface design
approaches.
(ii) With regard to the outcome of the process: to validate
all three predictions of image schema theory that the
outcome of the process is at the same time innovative,
inclusive and intuitive to use. This validation is done
with a working prototype and uses a larger sample size
than the studies by Hurtienne (2011).
(iii) In general: to determine the benefits of the approach,
possible pitfalls and open questions that need to be
addressed by further research.
As the test case, we used the above scenario of developing
an app for audio entertainment with a recording/playback
component and added social features. The goal was to
implement the prototype on a touchscreen device.
5. DESIGN PROCESS
The image-schematic design process was aligned with Con-
textual Design (Beyer and Holtzblatt, 1998;Holtzblatt et al.,
2005) in order to remain as close as possible to current
industry design practice. For the Audio Entertainment project
described here, we employed an accelerated methodology,
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Designing with Image Schemas 241
Figure 1. The design process followed is of the Lightning Fast +variety of Contextual Design (shown on the left) and includes some additional
steps required by the image-schema approach (shown on the right).
labelled Lightning Fast +after Holtzblatt et al. (2005). Figure 1
lists the four main stages of Lightning Fast +: contextual
interviews and interpretation, affinity diagram, wall walk and
visioning, paper mock-up interviews and interpretation. It also
shows how this standard process was augmented by a number
of image-schema-specific activities in this project.
The study took place within the context of an industry-led
project aimed at designing a new app for audio entertainment.
The design team consisted of seven people, including the
product manager, software engineers, a visual designer, usabi-
lity engineering consultants and an image-schema specialist
(all authors were part of the design team). The main design
work took place in a workshop of three and a half days.
The workshop started with the interpretation of the interviews
that were conducted before the workshop and it ended with a
first round of testing paper prototypes. Then the refinement,
implementation and evaluation of the prototypes followed. In
the following description of the design process, the deviations
from Lightning Fast + are highlighted, especially those with
regard to using image schemas. For a description of the standard
Contextual Design process, the reader is referred to Holtzblatt
et al. (2005).
5.1. Contextual interviews and interpretation
According to Holtzblatt et al. (2005), contextual interviews
are conducted in the user’s (work) place with a focus on
observations of ongoing work and other activities. Contextual
interviews are conducted with between 4 and 12 users of a
rather homogenous target group. Usually, there will not be
much variation in how users solve a task so that including more
interviewees will add little insight (Holtzblatt et al., 2005).
During subsequent interpretation sessions, the interviewers
share their experience with the design team and the team
captures the key issues and work models.
In this project, we conducted contextual interviews with eight
participants (four male, four female, 57–86 years old). The
interview sessions were conducted at the participants’ homes
and lasted 1 h. We started with a general discussion about
their audio entertainment needs and focused later on specific
interactions with their audio equipment. Example questions
included: ‘When, that is, during which activities, do you use
your audio equipment?’ ‘When do you talk to others about
something on the news?’and even ‘How do you manage to listen
to the same music in different rooms?’. To stimulate interaction
with their existing equipment, we also gave participants tasks
like ‘Please look up in the radio guide what you would like
to hear today’ or ‘Please play your favourite CD’ (see the full
interview guide in the supplementary material).
In addition to the standard process, the interviews were audio-
recorded and transcribed. This was done because the subsequent
steps of image schema analysis rely on the exact wording
of the interviewees’ utterances. We also took pictures of the
devices the participants used (e.g. to document specific button
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242 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
arrangements on their audio equipment) and other artefacts, for
example, personal notes about which stations are assigned to
which buttons on the device.
The interpretation session lasted about one and a half days
and introduced several steps that were specific to the image-
schema methodology (cf. Fig. 1). It started with an image
schema training of the design team to prepare the team for the
subsequent activities. In this, the theoretical background and
the steps of using image schemas in user-interface design were
explained and discussed.
The next step included image schema tagging. Image schema
tagging is done to extract the relevant image schemas that
structure the users’ mental models of the domain. Image schema
tagging means reading through each interview and manually
annotating sentences, phrases or words with the image schemas
listed in Table 1. This poses a highly unusual task for many
designers as it involves taking every user expression literally.
Therefore, the first interview was tagged collaboratively by
the team. This also served to learn the tagging procedure,
to develop a sensitivity to the literal meaning of words and
to discuss user expressions that were ambiguous. Only non-
literal meanings of image schemas were tagged. Image schemas
can, for example, reveal themselves via prepositions (e.g. in,
inside,into may instantiate a container image schema) or verbs
(e.g. block,prevent,refrain may instantiate a blockage image
schema). Consider the following three sentences we heard in
the interviews:
(1) SR4,BR3 and Kaiserslautern are the radio stations
that I listen to.
(2) I turn down the volume when the radio news comes on.
(3) My favourite song is running on channel four.
In sentence (1), the three radio stations form a collection
and would be tagged accordingly. The to in this sentence
points to a path image schema, or more specifically, the goal
in a source-path-goal construction. In sentence (2), we tag a
rotation image schema for turn,anup-down image schema
for down, and self-motion,path and contact image schemas
for comes on. In sentence (3), we would again tag a self-motion
image schema for running,acontact image schema for on
and a path image schema for channel. When going through
the transcript and tagging image schemas, affinity notes (i.e.
sticky notes that contain key issues from the interviews that are
independent of the image schema analysis) were written at the
same time.
After the interviews had been tagged with image schemas, in
the next step, image-schematic metaphors, it was made explicit
which image schemas stand for what abstract concepts. This
step was separated from image schema tagging to reduce the
cognitive burden on the analysts.4During this step, the tagged
4Another advantage is that explicitly documenting image-schematic
metaphors can facilitate the hand-over between user researchers and user-
interface designers in projects where the work is divided between different
persons.
image schema instances were reviewed and in each case, it
was made explicit which primary metaphor was instantiated.
Primary metaphors were documented in the form target
domain is image schema. The image schema denoted what the
user actually said, the target domain was what he or she meant
by it. For example, the image-schema analysis of sentence
(1) led to the metaphors radio stations that i listen to
are collections of stations and directing my attention
to a radio station is putting the station at the end of a
path. Sentence (2) led to the metaphors setting the volume
is rotation, loud is upsoft is down, broadcasting is
self-motion on a path and items that can be listened to
are in contact. Sentence (3) contains another instance of
broadcasting is self-motion on a path.
Finding good formulations for metaphors was not always
easy, because it could be difficult to express the target domain
without using the image schema in question. The team was
reminded that there is no correct solution (i.e. that these
formulations are always tentative) and the main goal was to
find out which abstract concepts of the application domain were
connected to which physical concepts that could be used in
the later stage of design. Another form of documenting the
metaphors was target domain is source domain [list of
image schemas] (example instantiations), which allows for
more general metaphors to be documented, but also enlists the
image schemas that structure the metaphor (according to the
idea of the invariance hypothesis). An example is listening to
a radio station is wanting the radio station [attraction]
(We want Kaiserslautern). Including instantiations of the
metaphor later, in the design phase, helped to understand the
original intentions of the metaphor.
The goal of this exercise was also to have the metaphors
as some general descriptors under which many instances
(user utterances) could be subsumed. For the later use of the
metaphors in the design phase, those metaphors that had many
instances were assumed to be stronger than metaphors with only
a few instances. Then, in the design stage, priority was given
to those metaphors that were covered by the most empirical
material.
After tagging the first interview by the whole team, the
remaining interviews were split among subgroups that worked
in parallel. Again, each subgroup created affinity notes by
identifying interesting themes and observations from their
interview transcripts that might be relevant in requirements
gathering. Each subgroup also identified image schemas and
metaphors from their transcripts. As each group worked on
different interviews and members of a group always agreed
on the image schemas to tag, no inter-rater reliabilities were
computed. A previous study (Hurtienne, 2011), however, found
that the reliability of two raters tagging image schemas
in users’ speech is κ=0.68, a substantial agreement
according to Landis and Koch (1977,κ<0 would indicate
poor agreement, 0.00–0.20 slight, 0.21–0.40 fair, 0.41–0.60
moderate, 0.61–0.80 substantial and 0.81–1.00 almost perfect
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Designing with Image Schemas 243
agreement).5Altogether, 237 affinity notes and 133 metaphors
were extracted from the eight interviews we conducted.
After the metaphors had been extracted from the interview
transcriptions, during the next step metaphor clustering, they
were clustered according to the requirements and functionality
described in the use case- for example, setting the volume and
listening to a station. This was done to achieve a better overview
of relevant metaphors and to make them more accessible during
the design phase. The requirements, functionalities and use
cases were either already given by the project objectives or were
extracted from the target domains of metaphors. In the project,
we came up with 18 metaphor clusters, covering different
aspects of audio entertainment, such as tuning in to a station,
setting the volume and listening to the news.
5.2. Affinity diagram
According to Holtzblatt et al. (2005), the affinity diagram
organizes the affinity notes that were created during the
interpretation session into a wall-sized hierarchical diagram
grouping the data under key issues with labels that reveal the
users’ needs.Affinity diagramming makes sure that the common
issues, themes and scope of the user problems and needs are
accessible to the design team in one place. The affinity diagram
becomes the basis for user requirements.
In this project, the affinity notes were clustered into groups
of similar notes. These groups were labelled, and clustered
into supergroups and these were clustered into three thematic
areas:
(i) Context, containing affinity notes that describe how
situations shape what people listen to (e.g. news,
or specific types of music) at what times (e.g. in
the morning, around Christmas) in which locations
(which rooms in the house) using what device (e.g.
kitchen radio, CD player) and accompanying which
activities (e.g. cooking, playing card games).
(ii) Needs, containing affinity notes discussing, for
example, how audio entertainment connects users to
other people, how listening to the radio is part of their
daily routines, how it contributes to relaxation and
mood management, and how it keeps users informed
about what is going on in the world.
(iii) Pragmatic quality, containing affinity notes about how
people know which radio shows to select for listening,
how to tune into specific stations, problems when
using their devices, how they use their remote control
and what other media are used.
5Although a kappa value of 0.68 leaves room for improvement, compared
to other agreement scores in practical HCI it is not too bad, either. Consider, for
example, heuristic evaluation, one of the most widely used expert usability
techniques, of which the average agreement between usability experts on
usability problems is only as high as 22% (Hertzum and Jacobsen, 2003).
Based on the interview results (and deviating from the Lightning
Fast + approach), a persona was created representing the target
user group. A persona is a portrait of a characteristic, yet
fictitious person that represents vital features of users who are
representatives of different user groups (Cooper, 2004). We
created ‘Mr Mellitus’, a persona describing a healthy elderly
person without serious impairments. His daily routine in the
context of audio entertainment—as inspired by the interviews—
was described as well. This was done to make the target user
group more accessible to the software engineers who did not
participate in the contextual interviews.
5.3. Wall walk and visioning
According to Contextual Design methodology, a wall walk
enables the team members to interact with the data collected
and structured so far, become familiar with it and generate
design ideas. A vision describes what users will find in the new
environment and how it works, told from the user’s point of
view including the technology used, user-interface functions
and processes (Holtzblatt et al., 2005).
In our project, before the wall walk started, we hung the
metaphor clusters we created in the step metaphor clustering
near those groups of affinity notes that seemed most likely
to be similar to the target domain of the metaphors. Then the
workshop participants individually immersed themselves in the
data on the wall and came up with design ideas that they wrote
or drew on post it notes and stuck these to the affinity wall as
well. We came up with a total of 116 design ideas, many of these
already visualizing image-schematic metaphors.
Instead of an elaborated visioning process (as described in
Holtzblatt et al., 2005), we discussed the most promising and
potentially framing design ideas in the team and considered
the technical and functional constraints our prototypes should
obey. The goal was to implement the prototype on a touchscreen
device (PC and Apple iPad). The prototypes were to include
the following features: switching on/off, changing the current
radio station, tuning to a new radio station, configuring a station
pre-set (and deleting it), increasing/decreasing volume, reading
station and music meta information, recording and playing back
broadcast items, listening to music albums, seeing what peers
are listening to and tuning in to their radio stations.
5.4. Paper mock-up interviews and interpretation
According to Contextual Design methodology, paper prototypes
are used in the early phases of design to quickly enable the
designer to test a design with real users solving their everyday
tasks. A paper prototype visualizes a design concept and allows
for easy modifications of the user interface. Contextual Design
requires several iterations of testing and refining the prototype.
In our project, due to time constraints we deviated from the
prescribed method and developed two paper prototypes in par-
allel that were tested within the design team. We split the team
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244 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
into two groups. Each group used the same design ideas and
metaphor clusters to design a paper prototype. After each group
finished their prototype, the other group reviewed this prototype
using the pluralistic walkthrough technique (Bias, 1994). After
this testing of the two prototypes, the strengths and weaknesses
of each prototype’s user-interface elements were discussed.
Based on that, the best user-interface elements of each pro-
totype were identified and a decision was made regarding the
recombination of the best elements into a final design.
5.5. Prototype refinement and implementation
The final prototype was built and refined after the workshop
by the visual designer. The interactive behaviour of the pro-
totype (user actions and system reactions) was determined
using (1) the DESIGNi workbench that supports interaction
designers in exploring interaction forms and their attributes
in a structured and systematic way (Nass et al., 2010) and
(2) the interaction vocabulary, a set of dimensions that can
be used to describe and differentiate different interaction
styles (e.g. whether to drag and drop, slide, click and hold;
Diefenbach et al., 2013). Then the final interactive prototype
was implemented as an iPad app running on iOS and on a
multi-touch-enabled PC running MS Windows.
Figure 2shows the outcome of the design process. The user
interface is divided into three parts: the upper part representing
the available radio stations, the middle section representing the
radio station the user is currently listening to and the lower
part representing the social component of the app. The radio
station the user is currently listening to is represented as a
surface (based on metaphors such as radio stations are
surfaces on which the music is running). On this surface,
the different broadcasts are ordered in a sequence, so the
user can see what has been broadcast recently and what will
be broadcast next (time is on a path, points in time are
locations). The current broadcast is shown in a window to
which a picture of the user is attached (time periods are
containers, listening is being in contact). The band of
broadcasts is moving along with the radio programme in time
(broadcasting is self motion on a path). News-related items
Figure 2. Main screen of the final interactive prototype designed with image-schematic metaphors.
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Designing with Image Schemas 245
Figure 3. The user interface can be slid down to allow for setting the favourite stations from a collection of available stations.
including weather forecasts and traffic news are placed on an
arc above and outside the radio surface (news are outside,
time is on a path). Past news items are recorded automatically
and can be listened to when the user drags and drops them onto
the listener window (items that can be listened to are in
contact).
The container in the upper part of the window holds
a number of pre-set/favourite radio stations. These stations
can be selected and listened to by dragging them onto the
station surface (items that can be listened to are in
contact). When sliding the whole user-interface downwards, a
collection of available radio stations can be accessed (Fig. 3).
They can be added to the collection of favourite stations
by dragging and dropping them into the container holding
the favourite stations (radio stations that i listen to are a
collection of stations, to program the stations is to put
them into a container [path, container]).
The lower part of the screen shows a collection of pictures
of peers and friends in a container connected by a link to the
picture of the current user (Fig. 2,relationships are links,
a group of people is a container). A mouse-over-tooltip
shows some characteristics of these users (e.g. where they live
and what they like). When dragging and dropping a picture of
another person onto the picture of the user, the interface reveals
in a visually matching window what this user is currently
listening to, their favourite radio stations and a selection of
their peers and their characteristics (Fig. 4,communication
is being similar [matching]). If a user wants to establish a
conversation with that person, they would have to leave the
interface and either use the telephone or talk in person about
their listening experience and habits.
On the right hand margin of the user interface, there is a
vertical slider for adjusting the volume (loud is upsoft is
down). The margin also shows two puzzle pieces that can be
dragged and dropped into a puzzle-shaped container located
in the upper right corner of the screen. If the radio piece is
in the container (as in Fig. 2), the radio is switched on. If
the CD piece is in the container, users can listen to a CD
(Fig. 5). If there is no puzzle piece in the container, the app is
switched off (operating is being innot operating is being
out, operating is being in contactnot operating is being
out of contact). When listening to a CD, the interface also
consists of a surface showing the tracks of the CD in sequence.
There also is a panel containing the songs that a user can drag
and drop onto the user window to be played (Fig. 5).
6. EVALUATION OF THE PROTOTYPE
This study set out to present a methodology that can relieve
the tension between intuitive use, innovativeness and inclusive
design. Therefore, by applying this methodology, some
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246 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
Figure 4. Seeing what one’s peers are listening to.
minimum criteria in all three areas need to be achieved. First,
we assumed that a user interface built with image-schematic
metaphors should be intuitive to use, because the design
relies on the subconscious application of prior knowledge that
should be immediately and automatically available to users.
Second, because image schemas only prescribe the structure
of an interface in an abstract way, they leave enough room
for the designer to be creative and produce an original and
innovative user interface. Finally, regarding their universality
and automatic access in the mind, image schemas should be
universally present and less affected by age-related cognitive
decline, so that applying them in user interfaces should increase
their inclusiveness regarding people of different ages.
So, if the image-schema methodology is successful in this
respect, we expect the following outcome of the evaluation of
the prototype:
H1: That a measure of perceived intuitive use will be
significantly higher than the neutral midpoint of the
scale used.
H2: That a measure of innovativeness will be significantly
higher than the neutral midpoint of the scale used.
H3: That the results are independent of age. That is, there
is no significant correlation of age with (a) a global
evaluation measure, (b) judgements of intuitive use and
(c) judgements of innovativeness.
6.1. Method
Seventy-eight individuals (37 female) took part in the evaluation
study. The youngest participant was 15 years old, the oldest 89,
the mean age was 44.2 years (SD =20.2, first quartile =25.5
years, median =41 years, third quartile =58 years). More
than half of the participants were a convenience sample
recruited by the participating software company that specialized
in ambient assisted living technology; about a fifth of the
participants were recruited via a research panel by the
Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering in
Kaiserslautern (Germany) and also included participants from
an assisted living facility; another fifth were recruited via nearby
universities. Participants received no compensation but two
Amazon vouchers were raffled among all participants.
A working prototype was evaluated using both platforms
(Apple iPad, Packard Bell oneTwo Multi Touch PC), and
participants were randomly assigned to one of the two systems.
The participants explored the prototype in a laboratory setting.
Each participant solved a series of 12 tasks that covered all
of the prototypes’ functionalities, such as selecting a radio
station, adding a station to the list of favourite stations or
gathering information about other listeners of a radio station
(see the supplementary material for the full list of tasks). The
experimenter introduced the prototype to the participants and
was available when they got stuck. As there were no audio or
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Designing with Image Schemas 247
Figure 5. Listening to CDs.
video recordings of the session, the experimenter took notes
on user comments and usage problems encountered. Each
participant actively used the system for between 15 and 20
min. After they had finished these tasks, participants judged
the prototype by means of questionnaires.
Intuitive interaction was assessed with the QUESI (Naumann
and Hurtienne, 2010), a questionnaire for assessing the
subjective consequences of intuitive use based on the definition
of intuitive use proposed by the IUUI group (Mohs et al.,
2006). The questionnaire uses five criteria for assessing intuitive
use that also form its five subscales: low subjective mental
workload, high perceived achievement of goals, low perceived
effort of learning, high perceived familiarity and low perceived
error rate. It consists of 14 statements that are phrased in such a
way that agreement indicates intuitive use. For example, an item
referring to the criterion of low subjective mental workload is
‘I could use the system without thinking about it’. Participants
indicated to what degree the different statements met their
subjective experience of use by a five-point Likert scale. Since
the internal consistency of the 14 items was high (Cronbach’s
alpha =0.95), we calculated a total score of intuitive use by
averaging the five subscales.
Perceived innovativeness of the system was assessed with the
‘stimulation’subscale of the AttrakDiff2 questionnaire, a widely
used questionnaire for assessing the perceived product character
of interactive products (see Hassenzahl, 2004;Hassenzahl
et al., 2003). ‘Stimulation’ addresses a products’ perceived
ability to support personal growth by stimulation, novelty
and challenge. It consists of seven-point semantic differential
items, that is, conservative-innovative, conventional-inventive,
ordinary-novel, unimaginative-creative, cautious-bold, dull-
captivating and undemanding-challenging. This broader focus
on innovativeness was chosen to assure that judgements on
innovativeness can be interpreted as indicating positive progress
and not simply ‘unfamiliarity’. A total score of innovativeness
was calculated by averaging the seven items. The internal
consistency was rather low (Cronbach’s alpha =0.56) and
could not be improved by removing any item. We thus kept
the scale intact.
In addition, we used a single seven-point semantic differential
item, that is, bad–good, for assessing the global judgement of
the prototype.
The evaluation session ended with a short interview. More
specifically, participants were asked for the perceived product
character, that is, they were asked to imagine the prototype was
‘a person’ and to describe their impression of that person by
naming appropriate character traits. Finally, they were asked
for their overall impression of the prototype and its operating
concept and any additional comments. Altogether, each session
lasted 40 min.
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248 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
Figure 6. Mean values of innovativeness judgments on audio system
prototype following interactions.
6.2. Quantitative results
As there were no statistically significant differences between the
two implementation types (Apple iPad versus touchscreen PC)
on any of the above measures, in the following the data from
both groups are reported together.
First, the global judgement (good–bad) of the prototype was
positive, the mean rating (M=5.22; SD =1.41) was signif-
icantly higher than the scale midpoint of four, t(77)=7.62;
P<0.001, d=0.87. Second, in accordance with H1, the pro-
totype was perceived as intuitive to use, and the mean QUESI
score (M=3.47, SD =0.84) was significantly higher than the
scale midpoint of three, t(77)=4.94; P<0.001, d=0.56.
Compared with the QUESI benchmark values published in
Naumann and Hurtienne (2010), this value is better than five
out of six products tested after first time use (among these the
Apple iPod Classic 4G). Thus, the judgement of intuitive use
was relatively high, only one of the benchmark values (M=
3.79, the website AirBerlin.com) exceeded the prototype’s
score.
Third, as expected in H2, the prototype was also judged
as innovative, and the mean innovativeness score (M=5.32;
SD =0.90) significantly exceeded the scale midpoint of four,
t(77)=12.90, P<0.001, d=1.47. Owing to the low internal
consistency of the scale, we also analysed the differences
between the single items. An analysis of variance with items as a
within-subjects factor revealed significant differences between
the items, F(6,456)=18.09, P<0.001; see Fig. 6for mean
values. Though all items scored above the midpoint of the scale,
the perception of the prototype as innovative, inventive, novel
and creative was more distinct than the perception as bold,
captivating and challenging.
Fourth, to test the claim of age inclusiveness, we calculated
correlations between age and global evaluation, intuitive use
and innovativeness. In accordance with H3, for all the three
Table 2. Intercorrelations between global judgment, innovativeness,
intuitive use and age.
Global judgment Innovativeness Intuitive use
Innovativeness 0.534∗∗
Intuitive use 0.493∗∗ 0.351∗∗
Age 0.009 0.100 0.195
Spearman’s rho, ∗∗P<0.01, N=78.
measures, no significant correlations with age were found
(Table 2). However, the correlation between age and the
QUESI score was higher than expected although not statistically
significant (P =0.09). In summary, the quantitative results
indicate that an interaction design based on the image schema
approach generated a solution, which was judged as positive,
intuitive to use and innovative. Furthermore, these judgements
were significantly intercorrelated, but independent of age.
6.3. Qualitative results
In the interviews, participants were asked about the perceived
product character. A high variety of character traits were
attributed to the prototype from which a few clusters of similar
terms were identified. A number of character traits referred
largely to the innovativeness of the prototype, such as ambitious,
amusing,demanding,eclectic,freaky,futuristic,imaginative,
interesting,modern,playful,versatile and visionary. Other
attributes referred to the pragmatic quality, in a positive sense
(e.g. clear,credible,reliable,simple) as well as in a negative
sense (e.g. chaotic,complicated,confused). Finally, participants
named global positive attributes such as friendly,kind,likeable,
as well as global negative attributes as for example annoying or
unfriendly.
General comments often expressed surprise about the
prototypes’ unusual appearance (e.g. ‘completely different than
what I expect from a radio’, ‘very different’), while most
participants first expected that this dissimilarity to familiar
radios would imply usability problems, this was less often
the case than they assumed. Accordingly, participants also
explained how they initially felt ‘shocked’ by the interface
which ‘just does not look like a radio’ but then got a clue of
the operating concept, faster than they thought (e.g. ‘in the
beginning it looked strange but once I got it, it was easy’, ‘looks
more complicated than it actually is’, ‘it’s so easy, even I can
use it’, ‘it is really self-explanatory, so it is not a problem that it
looks different than what I know’). Four participants, however,
were not convinced of the concept after they had tried out the
prototype. They, for example, perceived the prototype as ‘too
modern’, ‘does not feel like a real radio’; they even described
the prototype as non-intuitive. Three out of these four people,
interestingly, were in their late 20s.
From the observations of the experimenter, it can be
concluded that the main concepts (the arc, the social
components, the container with the favourite radio stations)
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Designing with Image Schemas 249
were easily understood. Problems occurred with the specific
interaction with these elements (e.g. to tap or to drag), the
non-visible collection of available radio stations was sometimes
not found, and labels were not written large enough for many
users. Thus, although the basic features were usable, there was
potential for further improvement in the details.
7. EVALUATION OF THE DESIGN PROCESS
At the end of the design workshop, the members of the design
team engaged in a half-day debriefing session. In this session,
six team members (with the first author as the workshop
facilitator) assessed the applicability of the image schema
method to user-centred design processes in practice. Three of
the participants were software and usability engineers from a
research institution (Fraunhofer IESE Kaiserslautern) and had
already participated in a previous 1-day workshop on the image
schema methodology. Two were from a small enterprise that
produces novel design solutions for smart home environments
for senior citizens, and one was a computer scientist from the
University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern.
In the evaluation phase, five statements were prepared on a
flipchart. The participants received self-adhesive dots that they
put between the poles ‘totally agree’ and ‘totally disagree’.
The result sparked a (moderated) discussion on what worked
well using image schemas and what did not, when and how the
participants would use image schemas in their daily work, what
opportunities they see for improvement, what training needs
exist and how they think image schemas could enhance the
design process.
The flipchart results are shown in Fig. 7. First, the participants
did not agree much with the statement that image schemas
are useful in specifying requirements. This was because image
schemas are not very capable of capturing requirements outside
the user interface (e.g. about technical dependencies, necessary
background calculations and data storage and response time
requirements, which were also important to the software
engineers). But the feeling prevailed that image schemas are
well suited to specify user-interface requirements.
Second, the participants largely agreed with the statement that
image schemas were useful in finding design solutions. They
said that the user-interface concepts developed in the workshop
are the best evidence for this. Participants stated that image
schemas helped them to arrive at new design ideas, that they
broaden the horizon of the designer and lead to completely
different results than other design methods. Image schemas are
flexible enough to be combined with other design approaches.
Image schemas, the participants felt, can help designers justify
their design solutions better, because of their grounding in the
users’ mental models.
Third, answers slightly tended to agree with the statement
that integrating image schemas in the requirements process
requires too much effort. The effort for transcribing the user
interviews, and particularly for image schema and metaphor
Figure 7. Evaluation of using image schemas in the design process
(flipchart copy).
extraction, was seen as being too high. Others regarded the effort
for affinity diagramming as too high—an activity that belonged
to the underlying Contextual Design process. Fourth, the
answers tended to disagree with the statement that integrating
image schemas in the design process requires too much effort.
One opinion was that once image-schematic metaphors are
extracted, no further effort is necessary—one just needs to
apply these to the design. Image schemas posed a reliable
source of information on how to design the user interface.
Participants also felt that it depends on how image schemas are
used in the design phase. Their use will be quick and effortless
when they are used for inspiration, but if each and every user-
interface element has to be designed according to image schema
specifications, this could slow down the design process. But
even if there is not much capacity in saving time, the participants
felt that the quality of the resulting user-interface concept may
be higher than when not using image schemas. Finally, almost
all participants disagreed with the statement that more training
was necessary to be able to use image schemas in a useful way.
Only one participant said, he would prefer more specific training
on how to identify image schemas from interview transcripts.
Among the suggestions for improving the methodology was
that the analysis team should better keep track of metaphor
repetitions for being able to prioritize metaphors according
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250 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
to the frequency of their occurrence. As there seem to be
recurring mappings between image schemas and user-interface
elements and image schemas and user utterances, these should
be identified and made available in a tool that standardizes and
accelerates the image schema analysis and design processes.
There was also a discussion about the most appropriate way of
deriving user-interface concepts from given image-schematic
metaphors. Three ways were suggested: First, image-schematic
metaphors could be used to relatively loosely inspire user-
interface concepts. Second, the metaphors could be initially
instantiated and synthesized in a large user-interface concept
and then gradually refined by re-analysing the concept and
reworking it accordingly. Third, the metaphors could be used
in a more systematic process in which designers first derive
various metaphor instances for core functionalities, then select
the most suitable instances and finally add more metaphor
instances for other, less important, functionalities to the user-
interface concept. There was no conclusion on which of these
ways would be most appropriate to follow. The first would be
the fastest and the last would most be the most rigorous way in
applying the extracted metaphors to user-interface design.
8. DISCUSSION
As set out in the theory section, the objectives of this study
were: (1) to contribute a design process that integrates image
schemas with current industry practice; (2) to validate all three
predictions of image schema theory that the outcome of the
process is at the same time innovative, inclusive and intuitive to
use; and (3) to determine the benefits of the approach, possible
pitfalls and open questions that need to be addressed by further
research. Each of these objectives is discussed in turn, also in
the light of previous work and with suggestions for overcoming
the limitations of the current study.
8.1. Design process
In this paper, we presented an image-schema design process
that integrates well with Contextual Design (Beyer and
Holtzblatt, 1998;Holtzblatt et al., 2005), a standard industry
methodology of a user-centred design process. In addition to
the chosen Lightning Fast +approach of Contextual Design,
the main effort using image schemas goes into the stage of
contextual interview interpretation. Here, after half a day’s
training in image schema methodology, the design team was
able to tag interview transcripts with image schemas, to combine
the tagged expressions into image-schematic metaphors and to
cluster these metaphors for later use in the design phase. Almost
all participants felt that they would not need any additional
training to that provided to be able to use image schemas in
a useful way.
As shown in previous studies (Hurtienne, 2011), while the
main additional effort is in the analysis phase, the main benefit
of using image schemas is in the design phase, because image-
schematic metaphors spark new and interesting design ideas
that guide designers in creating new and innovative designs
suitable for different interaction styles—whether traditional
GUI, tangible interaction, or, as in this study, surface-touch
interaction.
A large part of the design activities from interview inter-
pretation to paper mock-up testing took part in a workshop that
lasted for three and a half days. This duration was shown to be
sufficient to teach the methodology and convey a feeling of the
strengths and weaknesses of the method to the design team.
The major strengths of applying image schemas in the design
process were that they can provide an abstract language for
describing user-interface requirements and design solutions
alike. They are seen to lead to innovative design solutions that
are intuitive to use. Their grounding in the mental models of
users makes them a good tool for justifying design decisions.
The major weaknesses of image schemas are that they are
restricted to defining user-interface requirements (in contrast
to functional requirements, for example) and that the effort
required to analyse image schemas from user transcripts may be
too high. Overall, however, image schemas were seen as being
useful for design and that research and practice with image
schemas should go on.
Also, the current limitations of the methodology lie mainly
in the analysis phase and suggestions for improving the
methodology are mainly targeted at this phase. The first group
of suggestions is concerned with enhancing the rigour of image
schema tagging:
(i) This study included only older people in the interview
phase. Although primary metaphor theory would
predict the universal validity of primary metaphors,
it still makes sense to strive for maximal breadth in
the interview sample. If they are part of the target user
group of the product, this can mean to include domain
novices as well as experts, older as well as younger
users, or people of different cultures.
(ii) This image schema tagging was done by a team
of image schema novices under the guidance of an
image schema expert and no measures of inter-rater
agreement were employed. To achieve greater consis-
tency between users’ mental models and the extracted
image schemas, trained and experienced image-
schema taggers should do the analysis wherever
possible. To estimate the reliability of the extracted
image-schematic metaphors, more than one image
schema tagger should analyse the same material and
an index of inter-rater agreement should be computed.
(iii) Because several image schemas may be used in struc-
turing the same abstract concept, several metaphors
may become candidates for designing the same
functionality. One strategy would be to redundantly
include all metaphors in one solution. Another
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Designing with Image Schemas 251
strategy would be to instantiate only those metaphors
that are most frequently encountered in the interview
material. Therefore, when analysing the interview
material, the number of instances of each metaphor
should be counted and documented throughout the
design process.
The second group of suggestions is concerned with saving
effort in the analysis phase:
(i) Image schema tagging and metaphor formulation will
become easier and faster with increasing experience.
It may therefore be useful to employ specialized
personnel to cover the image-schema related steps in
the process.
(ii) Not all parts of an interview need to be tagged with
image schemas. Through an initial assessment of the
interview, parts should be determined that contain
relevant data, e.g. when interviewees are talking about
the core functionality of the product, when they talk
about new and desired functionalities, etc. Then only
these parts are tagged.
(iii) Manual image-schema tagging should be assisted by
automated keyword-matching. Many image schemas,
especially spatial image schemas are instantiated in
a small number of frequently repeating words, e.g.
prepositions. An automated system could pre-tag
these instances in the interview transcripts before
manual tagging starts.
(iv) In small focussed design projects and where the
analysis and design work is not divided among dif-
ferent people, the steps image-schematic metaphors
and metaphor clustering may be omitted, so that
designers could directly go from image schema tag-
ging to instantiating image schemas in user interface
concepts.6
Clearly, all of these suggestions need to be investigated
regarding their effectiveness and trade-offs in future studies.
One open question, for example, is concerned with how
rigorously designers should use image-schematic metaphors
when creating new solutions in the design phase. Previous work
(Hurtienne et al., 2008a,b) used image-schematic metaphors
very systematically to first create several instantiations per
user-interface component and then to select the most suitable
instantiations. In the audio entertainment study reported here,
the process was more holistic in that designers picked the
most prominent metaphors (e.g. broadcasting is self-motion
on a path) and designed the rest of the interface around it.
The first approach may reap more of the potential of image-
schematic metaphors with regard to sub-conscious processing
and intuitive use, but it may take more time and discipline to
6Omitting steps in the underlying contextual design process, e.g. affinity
diagramming, wall walking or explicit visioning, can, of course, also save time
and effort.
follow and may take oddball metaphors too seriously (when
image schema analyses are done by lay-linguists). The latter
approach may be quicker and more fun, and may lead to more
creative user-interface solutions, but may not reap the benefits
of faithfully using all those metaphors that structure the user’s
mental models. More studies may be required to clarify these
trade-offs.
Another question regards the inclusion of image-schema
design processes in projects where there is no time for a
full Contextual Inquiry. Here, we suggest building image
schema catalogues that allow designers to search for already
documented metaphors and user-interface solutions in specified
domains or to use documented linguistic metaphor examples
to find out how people talk about the application domain
from which image-schematic metaphors can be extracted
(cf. Hurtienne, 2011, for a first step into this direction).
8.2. Predictions of the theory
Following image-schema theory, it was predicted that the
prototype would be intuitive to use because it was derived from
the subconscious image-schematic structure of users’ mental
models of audio entertainment. Because image schemas and
the metaphors they form are very basic components of thought,
they form a type of prior knowledge that is inclusive of most
people, whether they are young or old, technology-savvy or
not. And because they are abstract, image schemas can be
instantiated in novel and interesting ways that do not depend
on prior technology—resulting in user interfaces that are highly
innovative. Instead of trading one criterion against another (e.g.
intuitive versus innovative, intuitive versus inclusive, inclusive
versus innovative), image schema theory predicts that all three
are attainable at the same time.
In contrast to previous studies that used image schemas in
a re-design process of an invoice processing software and that
presented user-interface concepts to a small number of potential
users (Hurtienne et al., 2008a,b), this study did a design from
scratch and presented an interactive working prototype to a
large number of age-diverse users. The results of the prototype
evaluation show that the three criteria could be fulfilled. Mea-
sures of innovation and intuitive use were in the positive half of
their respective scales. The effect was medium for intuitive use
and large for innovativeness. Neither intuitive use, nor innova-
tiveness nor a global rating of the quality correlated significantly
with age, indicating the inclusiveness of the prototype.
The results thus indicate that applying image schema
methodology can lead to designs that are intuitive to use,
innovative and inclusive at the same time. This is in contrast
to other approaches, e.g. suggested by Raskin’s (1994)
‘intuitive equals familiar’ and Docampo Rama’s (2001) notion
of technology generations that both imply that maximizing
intuitive use is only possible at the expense of innovativeness
and inclusiveness.
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252 Jörn Hurtienne et al.
Our results also show that while the innovativeness of
the prototype was sufficiently high, there is still room for
improvement regarding intuitive use. The current prototype was
created from the available data within one workshop day and
was later refined by a visual designer without large changes
to its original structure. So it was very much a ‘second shot’
approach, designed after only one round of testing the first
paper prototypes. We suspect that if there had been another
round of testing involving real users before finalizing the design,
higher scores for intuitive use would have been likely. The
result thus shows that although applying image schemas may
provide a good basis for the structure of a user interface, the
final refinement and usability checking processes still need to
be applied.
Regarding the evaluation of whether image-schema method-
ology can lead to products that are innovative, inclusive and
intuitive to use, several limitations of this study need to be
taken into account. Future work needs to address these limi-
tations by employing a more rigorous methodology to show
that satisfying all three goals simultaneously is possible. First,
one would wish for a direct comparison between prototypes
that were developed following the image-schema approach and
a competing methodology. The latter could be a standard user-
centred design process without using image-schemas or a more
specific design process, e.g. following the technology genera-
tion approach. Second, as this study only used questionnaire
data as evaluation measures, one would wish to also include
performance data that could more objectively clarify issues of
learning, goal achievement and mental effort to get a richer pic-
ture of intuitive use. Third, the claim of the universality of pri-
mary metaphors remains unproven by our study. While we found
that the prototype results were independent of age, we did not
show that different age groups use the same primary metaphors
to talk about audio entertainment. Further studies need to take
the possible divergence of users’mental models into account to
present a stronger case for the inclusiveness of the method. To
distinguish the variability between different user groups from
the variability produced by imprecise image schema analyses,
future studies should measure and strive for high inter-rater reli-
ability. Fourth, although there were no correlations of study out-
comes with age, this might have been an artefact of our sample
that potentially was too homogenous with regard to education
and prior experience with technology. The concern is that for the
evaluation study, we may have recruited people that are more
tech-savvy than average. However, the sample included older
people from assisted living sites, while many of the younger peo-
ple were recruited from (technical) universities. Thus, the bias
from the sample should favour the tech-savvy in the young, but
be closer to normal in the older participants. Further studies,
however, should explicitly measure the levels of education and
prior experience with technology to be able to draw more solid
conclusions. Finally, although unlikely, the possibility exists
that the results of this study could be due to using the relatively
novel interface paradigm of touch interaction (instead of using
image schemas). Therefore, in the future, the effects of interac-
tion style and applying image-schema methodology need to be
disentangled as well.
8.3. Benefits, pitfalls, open questions
Our study has shown that employing image-schema methodol-
ogy to a design project can potentially solve the tension between
inclusive design, intuitive use and innovation. The methodology
can be easily taught, so that designers can apply it with suffi-
cient confidence and ease, leading to original designs that fulfil
all three criteria. The methodology can be implemented in stan-
dard industry practice. Indeed, some future work is devoted
to including image schemas in standard software engineering
methodologies (cf. Löffler et al., 2013). The questions that
still need to be addressed are whether the cost-benefit ratio
is acceptable for industry application and how the extra costs
of image-schema analysis can be further reduced. As men-
tioned above, it is also important to investigate whether image
schema methodology is better than other methodologies that
aim at products that are inclusive, innovative or intuitive to use.
Finally, one larger question is about the culture and language-
dependency of image-schematic metaphors. Primary metaphor
theory would suggest cultural independence, because image-
schematic metaphors are formed from very basic experience
that should be universal. Linguistic analyses predict that there is
a large amount of overlap in image-schematic metaphors across
languages (Kövecses, 2005;Neumann, 2001). Our own analy-
ses (Löffler et al., 2014) suggest this as well, but there might
be a number of image-schematic metaphors that are language
or culture specific. Currently, there is not enough evidence to
form an empirical conclusion. At the moment, we suggest to use
the method as a heuristic to arrive at innovative designs that are
also intuitive to use and promise to be inclusive of the largest
possible number of users around the world.
9. CONCLUSION
This research has shown that it is feasible to achieve
inclusiveness, intuitive use and innovation in one product where
previously it was doubted whether this is at all possible.
The solution lies in applying prior knowledge, not about
previous technological solutions or user interfaces, but about
everyday sensorimotor experiences that correlate with abstract
judgments. More specifically, we suggested a methodology
that included image schemas and image-schematic primary
metaphors as a novel approach to tap the subconscious mental
models that users have about a domain of their lives (here:
audio entertainment at home). This study is the first to directly
show with a user-centred design process leading to a working
prototype that primary metaphors can be useful in designing
user interfaces for abstract content. Further research needs to
elaborate on this work by conducting more rigorous tests of
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Designing with Image Schemas 253
this approach, but also by finding better ways of making the
suggested methodology more efficient to use in practice.
FUNDING
This research was supported by a Marie Curie Intra European
Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework
Programme (project INCLUDIS) and by the German Federal
Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), project FUN-NI
(Grant: 01 IS 09007).
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... Conveniently for user interface designers, ISM can be extracted from the users' language to understand how they think about their domain of application. Coding of language can be done manual [8,17] or with the support of linguistic pattern recognition [2], machine learning or rule based extraction [3,18]. Once identified for a context, ISM can be repeatedly used for design processes. ...
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The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"--metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.
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Existing capability scales, such as that of the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) are based on a practitioner defined concept of intellectual function that is not compatible with current psychology. This chapter addresses the design requirements of a set of putative cognitive capability scales from a psychological perspective. In order to assess capability for product design, a scale should address all aspects of cognition that may be involved in product use.
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Although the academic and broadsheet worlds still tend to refer to ‘the elderly’ and ‘the disabled’, as if they form distinct groups outside the mainstream of society, there is a growing trend to recognise age and disability as something we will all experience, and therefore part of a normal life course. Disabled people have become increasingly assertive about their rights to access buildings and services, while for older people the emphasis is now on independence. Both groups aspire to active participation within the mainstream of society, reject the dependency and institutionalisation that were the norm for much of the last century, and are beginning to assert themselves as consumers who control significant amounts of disposable income. Such new expectations offer a rationale for design that is ‘inclusive’ rather that exclusive, and more closely aligned to contemporary social expectations.
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To what extent and in what ways is metaphorical thought relevant to an understanding of culture and society? More specifically: can the cognitive linguistic view of metaphor simultaneously explain both universality and diversity in metaphorical thought? Cognitive linguists have done important work on universal aspects of metaphor, but they have paid much less attention to why metaphors vary both interculturally and intraculturally as extensively as they do. In this book, Zoltán Kövecses proposes a new theory of metaphor variation. First, he identifies the major dimension of metaphor variation, that is, those social and cultural boundaries that signal discontinuities in human experience. Second, he describes which components, or aspects of conceptual metaphor are involved in metaphor variation, and how they are involved. Third, he isolates the main causes of metaphor variation. Fourth Professor Kövecses addresses the issue to the degree of cultural coherence in the interplay among conceptual metaphors, embodiment, and causes of metaphor variation. © Cambridge University Press 2005 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.
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Is it impossible to schedule enough time to include users in your design process? Is it difficult to incorporate elaborate user-centered design techniques into your own standard design practices? Do the resources needed seem overwhelming? This handbook introduces Rapid CD, a fast-paced, adaptive form of Contextual Design. Rapid CD is a hands-on guide for anyone who needs practical guidance on how to use the Contextual Design process and adapt it to tactical projects with tight timelines and resources. Rapid Contextual Design provides detailed suggestions on structuring the project and customer interviews, conducting interviews, and running interpretation sessions. The handbook walks you step-by-step through organizing the data so you can see your key issues, along with visioning new solutions, storyboarding to work out the details, and paper prototype interviewing to iterate the design-all with as little as a two-person team with only a few weeks to spare! *Includes real project examples with actual customer data that illustrate how a CD project actually works. *Covers the entire scope of a project, from deciding on the number and type of interviews, to interview set up and analyzing collected data. Sample project schedules are also included for a variety of different types of projects. *Provides examples of how-to write affinity notes and affinity labels, build an affinity diagram, and step-by-step instructions for consolidating sequence models. *Shows how to use consolidated data to define a design within tight time frames with examples of visions, storyboards, and paper prototypes. *Introduces CDToolsT, the first application designed to support customer-centered design.