Web Usability


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Finite State Machine and Usability

I have heard of Finite state Machine where in the application tries to satisfy all the states so that Maximum user satisfaction can be attained.
Digging deep into this I came up with following explaination:

What is a FSM?
If you ever seen a flowchart before, you can think of a FSM as the same thing. It has a set of states that follow a certain path. A state has transitions to other states, which is caused by events or actions within a state. Here is a real world example. You are in the kitchen (state) and you felt a sudden urge to drink water. You then decide to walk over to the cupboard and grab a glass. This is an event (walk to cupboard) and you are now in a new state with new options available to you. You then open the cupboard (action) and grab a glass (action). With the glass, you walk over to the sink (event) and turn on the tap (action). Water into poured into the glass (event) and you then drink it (action).So in a nutshell, an event leads you to a state in which you perform an action or several actions (though you do not always have to perform an action). So when you walk to the cupboard, that leads you to the state "At Cupboard" where the typical action is "Open Cupboard".

The idea behind the FSM is that a system such as a website with pages can only be in a limited (finite) number of states. Consider some simple systems that you encounter every day: a door may be open or closed; a light may be on or off; a light bulb may be on, off or broken; a cassette player may be playing, stopped, rewinding or fast forwarding.

Applying this to web usability we can find as many scenarios and tasks which a user will perform on a webpage,so that user can achieve the tasks easily and efficietly.For Example:

Finite State for Editing a User will be something like this:

This Would cover all the scenerios users can perform on Edit user Function of the webpage.So the Key is to Satisfy as many Scenerios and Persona's on the website so as to achieve maximum user satisfaction.


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