Proceedings: GI 1997

The immediate usability of graffiti

Scott MacKenzie, Shawn Zhang

Proceedings of Graphics Interface '97: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, 21 - 23 May 1997, 129-137

DOI 10.20380/GI1997.15

  • BibTeX

      title = {The immediate usability of graffiti},
      author = {I. Scott MacKenzie and Shawn Zhang},
      booktitle = {Proceedings of the Graphics Interface 1997 Conference, May 21-23, 1997, Kelowna, BC, Canada},
      year = {1997},
      month = {May},
      pages = {129--137},
      url = {}


We present four empirical measures of the immediate usability of Graffiti, a character recognizer for pen-based computers. Since speed is fully controlled by the user, we measured the accuracy attainable after minimal exposure. The first measure, 79%, is the inherent accuracy, or the extent to which Graffiti strokes match letters in the Roman alphabet. The other three measures were obtained in a formal experiment. We asked 25 subjects to enter the alphabet five times into a pen-based computer under three conditions: (a) following one minute studying the Graffiti reference chart, (b) following five minutes of practicing with Graffiti, and (c) following a one week lapse with no intervening practice. The accuracy was 86%, 97%, and 97%, respectively. These are very respectable figures given the limited exposure of subjects. The third figure represents complete retention following a one-week lapse. We present analyses of the errors on a character-by-character basis, noting that poor performing characters should be emphasized in tutorials and other learning aids for new users.