Design and evaluation of an adaptive icon toolbar


As information systems become increasingly important in many different domains, the potential to adapt them to individual users and their needs also becomes more important. Adaptive user interfaces offer many possible ways to adjust displays and improve procedures for a user's individual patterns of work. This paper describes an attempt to design an adaptive user interface in a computer environment familiar to many users. According to one classification of adaptive user interfaces, the adaptive bar described in this paper would be classified as a user-controlled self-adaptation system.

At the user's convenience, the adaptive bar offers suggestions for adding or removing command icons, based on the frequency and probability of specific commands. It also implements these changes once the user has agreed to them. Beyond the adaptive bar, the general behavior of the whole user interface does not change, thereby allowing the user to maintain a clear general model of the system. This paper describes the decision-making algorithm implemented in the bar. It also describes the bar's self-adaptive behavior of displaying the frequency of each icon's use through the icon's size. Finally, we present some encouraging preliminary results of evaluations by users.

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Debevc, M., Meyer, B., Donlagic, D. et al. Design and evaluation of an adaptive icon toolbar. User Model User-Adap Inter 6, 1–21 (1996).

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Key words

  • user interfaces
  • adaptive user interfaces
  • icon toolbars
  • software ergonomics
  • user modelling
  • user-controlled self-adaptation
  • experimental studies of adaptive interface use