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Communications of the ACM

Design rules based on analyses of human error


By analyzing the classes of errors that people make with systems, it is possible to develop principles of system design that minimize both the occurrence of error and the effects. This paper demonstrates some of these principles through the analysis of one class of errors: slips of action. Slips are defined to be situations in which the user's intention was proper, but the results did not conform to that intention. Many properties of existing systems are conducive to slips; from the classification of these errors, some procedures to minimize the occurrence of slips are developed.

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