Direct Manipulation Principles

CIS 524 Computer Interaction and Design

Strayer University

Direct manipulation a popular form of interface design, that is enjoyed by its users. This paper will discuss three (3) principles of direct manipulation and if it would be applicable to real world application. It will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the interfaces, by identifying why, the user experiences are so popular. The consistent human computer interaction that allows the user to control the actions on the computer.Direct manipulation interface is designed to be intuitive of the user. It allows the user/player to manipulate the objects viewed on the system.


The direct manipulation interface is designed give the user/player the ability to feel as if they are manipulating what is viewed on the system. Video games are a perfect example of direct manipulation interfaces. Video games emerge users in an alternative world with a click of a button and the user/gamer receives immediate feedback. (CIS 4372 HCI and Data Viz. 2009)

The Video gaming system is designed with buttons, keys joysticks, menus mice, pens, foot pads steering wheels, displayed screens and virtual goggles. The gaming system has changed human computer interaction from command line interfaces to manipulation, with a visual interaction. Today we use direct manipulation interface every day. We can customize laptops by dragging and dropping icons, which are files access, to anywhere on our desktop with a click of a mouse. We double click application widgets to start process without a thought. Direct manipulation interface moved from the computer desktop to video games.

Direct manipulation interface has three main principles:

The Three Principles of Video Game Direct Manipulation:

  • Continuous representation of objects and actions with meaningful visual metaphors.
  • The use of physical actions or labeled buttons instead of complex syntax.
  • Rapid, incremental, reversible actions whose effect on objects is immediately visible.

Continuous representation of objects and actions with meaningful visual metaphors. Beginning with the “continuous representation of the object of interest”, this interface should always allow users to have visual representations of the data they’re working on.

The use of physical actions or buttons instead of complex syntax. The video game control for this interface would be the video screen, this will provide the user with visual access to the images of the game as it is being played.

Rapid, incremental, reversible actions whose effect on objects is immediately visible.

Immediate gratification is the result of accessing the gaming system. One sensation leads to another and this causes the user/gamer to show off to other gamers, and resulting in to learn more The satisfaction users feel as the result of using these interfaces leads to beneficial behaviors such as an eagerness to show off an interface to novice users, and the desire of users to learn more techniques (Fagerholt & Lorentzon, 2009).

The new technologies of today that expands direct manipulation including virtual augmented, 3-D reality, and touch screen interfaces.

Direct Manipulation Pros and Cons

Direct Manipulation has several advantages

Direct manipulation can be compared to driving, you steer right, the car goes right. You steer left, the car goes left. You press the breaks the car stops. The more you press the gas the faster the car goes. If you go too fast or make a wrong turn you can adjust In contrast command-based interfaces, you are a passenger, totally dependent on the driver’s skills.

  • View task
  • Easy to learn
  • Easy to remember
    • Allow you to avoid mistakes
    • Encourages exploration
    • Permits high subjective satisfaction (Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Manipulation).

Direct manipulation alters to user specifications. The system allows users to customize functions compared to command-line interfaces. Therefore, users can customize functions.

Easy for the user to remember. With direct manipulation, once the user/gamer lers the controls they are familiar enough to use it with other games. Unlike command-line interfaces, the commands must be correct (Brenda. 2017).

Some of the disadvantages

Video Game-Type Interfaces for Real-World Applications.

  • Video game direct manipulation is hard to code, there are several layers to construct. Every action, object and item must be coded.
  • Require keys, buttons, a joystick, or a device to simulate the movement connected to the application via the system. (Soegaard)
  • Difficult to manage small objects; user’s find it hard to pick up small objects. Also, gamers cannot manipulate multiple objects. And within congested a space, it is difficult to control an object.

Direct manipulation especially video game-type, often enhances users’ sense of empowerment over the computer by letting them feel that they are in control and are the ones making things happen. It allows the user to be immersed in the actions. The see, hear and sometimes feel feedback. Video game-type interfaces would be effective for real-world applications. There are some currently in use such as Spatial data management, Computer-aided design, and Visual thinking and icons

Depending upon the context and users of an application, the use of text, visuals, or both may be justified. That is the major point to remember however, the use of either (text, visuals, or both) must be justified for the context of use and the users (Sherugar, & Budiu, 2016.)

  • Spatial data management-These systems create spatial models based on reality. Buildings, geography, and file systems are represented in 3D spaces with appropriate graphical representations and layouts.
  • Computer-aided design-Direct manipulation in computer-aided design allows users to shape, build, design, and create objects and then manipulate them.
  • Visual thinking and icons- Visual thinking is the practice of using pictures to enhance your ability to solve problems, think about complex issues and communicate effectively. (Visual Thinking Ingredients)

Video game interfaces differs from reality because they do not encompass all the senses and does not stimulate the entire body. Gamers are limited by “The Fourth Wall”. The fourth wall is an imaginary barrier that prevents the player to be immersed in the virtual world.