Human-Computer Interaction

What Does Human-Computer Interaction Mean?

Human-computer interaction (HCI) is the study and planned design of human and computer activities. HCI uses productivity, safety and entertainment to support and fulfill human-computer activities and is applied to various types of computer systems, including air traffic control, nuclear processing, offices and computer gaming. HCI systems are easy, safe, effective and enjoyable.


Software engineering focuses on the production of software application solutions, whereas HCI focuses on discovering methods and techniques that support people. HCI designers always consider HCI usability and user experience goals for effective user interaction. Not all usability and user experience goals apply to every interactive computer system because certain combinations are incompatible. HCI designers also consider potential contexts, tasks at hand and computer system users.

Techopedia Explains Human-Computer Interaction

Humans interact with computers through a user interface. This includes software, such as what is displayed on the computer monitor, and hardware, such as the mouse, keyboard and other peripheral devices. As a result, the study of HCI focuses on user satisfaction. Attention to human machine interaction is important, because a poor interface can make it hard for users to benefit from even the simplest systems. In a corporate or factory setting, a poor user interface could have more severe consequences.

Usability and user experience goal awareness is essential to all HCI design, as follows:

  • Usability: Central to interaction design and operations through specific computer system criteria, including efficiency, safety, utility and learning/retention.
  • User Experience: Focuses on creating systems that are satisfying, enjoyable, entertaining, helpful, motivating, aesthetically pleasing, creativity supportive, rewarding, fun and emotionally fulfilling.

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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.