We report on an investigation of the effects of hardware performance, application design, and cognitive demands on user productivity and perceptions. This investigation focuses on clerical tasks typical of those activities that many lower level organization workers encounter. This was accomplished by engaging one hundred seventy-five representative participants in a field-based experiment. Participants worked one eight-hour shift and completed a variety of realistic tasks involving the creation and modification of documents using Microsoft® Word, Excel, and PowerPoint®. Motivation was ensured through the use of a quantity/quality-based financial incentive. An analysis of both task-completion times and error rates revealed significant effects for cognitive demands, with more demanding tasks resulting in longer task completion times and higher error rates. The analysis also confirmed that under the right circumstances, providing individuals with a more powerful computing platform can lead to an increase in productivity. Participants also expressed a preference for more powerful computing platforms. Finally, the results provide strong support for the importance of navigational activities even when the users' primary goal is not navigation. Implications for user training, task design, and future research are discussed.
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