Spoken help for a car stereo: an explanatory study

Govert de Vries, Graham I. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter reports an investigation of the use of spoken (audible) help in an attempt to increase the usability and learnability of a high-end (i.e. relatively expensive, multifeatured) car stereo. To investigate the usefulness of audible spoken help for a car stereo, a simulation was constructed within which experimental help systems were incorporated. To validate the simulation, the ' real' car stereo (an existing consumer product, acting as the control condition) was compared empirically with its simulation.
An experiment, using the four conditions of actual product, simulation of actual product, and two simulations employing different spoken help functions, was undertaken. Forty participants in a between-subjects design carried out specified tasks with the car stereo version, according to experimental conditions. User performance, specifically task completion and number of button presses, and subjective reactions were measured. The simulated spoken help versions clearly assisted users with their tasks, and in general were responded to favourably when compared to performance with the control simulation and its product equivalent.
This exploratory study provided further insight into users' concerns about car stereo usability and the overall results revealed the potential of spoken help facilities for novice users. We can conclude that the use of audible, spoken help, whether as a global option or as a specific 'button help', enhances the performance of, and is acceptable to, novice users of this consumer product type. Finally, this investigation also demonstrated the use of a (Hypercard) simulation versus the 'real' counterpart (the simulated car stereo) to be generally valid and appropriate for this type of evaluation. In order to progress this direction, examination of the design of spoken help dialogues, user control of these, and issues concerning 'longitudial' use of the product type are recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman factors in product design
Subtitle of host publicationcurrent practice and future trends
EditorsWilliam S. Green, Patrick W. Jordan
Place of PublicationBoca Raton
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429188565
ISBN (Print)9780748408290
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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