A PACT analysis is a useful framework for thinking about human-centered design. The acronym PACT stands for People, Activities, Contexts, and Technologies. This structure used to analyze with whom, what, and where a user interacts with a user interface. Interaction is considered, in this framework, as a relationship between people, activities, contexts, and technologies. To analyze a user experience (UX) design using PACT, a designer must scope out the possible variety of people, activities, contexts, and technologies in a domain through brainstorming or envisionment techniques.
PACT also focuses on three categories for mapping people's differences: physical differences, psychological differences, and social differences.
Cognitive characteristics - level and duration of attention, perception, memory, learning abilities, cognitive capabilities, fears, personality characteristics
Physical characteristics - age differences, physical abilities,
What motivates, pleases, and engages - affect
experience & expectations - novice v's expert
Culture - For example, in Microsoft Excel there are two buttons, one labeled with a cross and the other a tick. In the US a tick is used for acceptance and the cross rejection, but in Ireland a tick or a cross can be used to show acceptance (e.g. a cross on a ballot paper).
special needs - blindness, colour blindness, deafness, wheel chair user
Homogenous vs heterogeneous user groups - website site users are (normally) heterogeneous - many different types of people; users of a company's intranet are (generally) homogenous
Discretionary vs committed users - does the user have a choice? if yes, then you need to encourage them to return
Infrequent vs frequent users - if users are normally infrequent, then interface must be particularly 'helpful' as users will forget how to complete complicated tasks.
Goals, tasks, and actions
Regular or unusual, weekly? Yearly? - frequent tasks should be easy to do; infrequent tasks should be easy to learn or remember
Well-defined or vague
Continuous or interrupted - the user may need to find their place' again
Current task practices
Individual vs co-operative work
Multi-tasking vs serial tasks
Passive vs active,
Quality vs quantity trade-off
Data input requirements
Length of time on tasks - peaks and troughs of working, need for fast response
Coping with errors - presentation of error messages, how to deal with them, how the system accommodates them, the significance of errors, safety-critical errors
Physical environments - noisy, cold, wet, dirty, stressful, use dangerous materials, sunny
Social environments - channels of communication, structure, centralization vs decentralization, home, mobile, training materials
Organizational context - relationships with customers, other staff, the effect on work practices and job content, role, deskilling, job loss, shift in power
Circumstances under which activities happen (time, place, the pressure of work/time)
Amount and type of support for activities - tuition, manuals, demonstrations, new knowledge, new skills
Input - Getting data in; getting commands; security
Output - Characteristics of different displays (e.g. video vs. photographs; speech vs. screen)
Communications - Between people, between devices, speed, etc. - What is connected to what?
Size of screen
GUI or not?
Networked or stand-alone.
Always on or dial in?
Safety critical systems;
Walk-up-and-use systems (e.g. kiosks) / Office systems / Palm pilot application / Web site.
Why Use It?
A PACT analysis is useful for both analysis and design activities; understanding the current situation, seeing where possible improvements can be made, or envisioning future situations.
brainstorm the variety of P, A, C, and Ts that are possible
Explore design implications
Look for trade-offs between combinations of PACT
Think about how these might effect design
Some information about a (similar) system is required
Marketing personnel may be involved also
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