A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Articles>User Interface

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1.
#37402

Achieving and Balancing Consistency in User Interface Design

The Principle of Least Astonishment, in shorthand, encompasses what we, as designers, must achieve to ensure consistency in our designs. Consistency is a fundamental design principle for usable user interfaces. But the thing that astonishes me is that it’s actually necessary to explain this principle. Surprise implies the unexpected. Of course, users want the response to a given action to be what they expect; otherwise, they would have done something else. In user interactions, the unexpected is pretty much the same as the unwanted. Surprise usually implies something bad rather than something positive—unless users already have such dismally low expectations of their software that they might think, Wow! It worked. I’m so astonished.

Zuschlag, Michael. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Interface>Usability

2.
#10405

Actual Readers Versus Implied Readers: Role Conflicts in Office 97   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article uses reader role theory to explain the dramatic failure of Paper-clip, the interface to Office 97's online help system. Called an Office Assistant, it is designed to shield users from the complexities of the software. Problems with Paper-clip surfaced as soon as Office 97 was launched. This article explains the Paper-clip controversy in terms of reader role conflicts by showing why actual readers rejected Paper-clip's role as implied writer and why they rebelled against the reader role Paper-clip implied for them.

Shroyer, Roberta. Technical Communication Online (2000). Articles>Word Processing>User Interface>Microsoft Word

3.
#39056

Adapting UI to iOS 7: The Side Menu

One of the most common implementations of menu views has been the “side drawer,” “basement,” or “side menu” made popular in apps such as Facebook and Path. When a user taps the “Hamburger” icon to open a side menu, the main screen slides to the right (or left in some implementations) to reveal another screen below.

UX Magazine (2013). Articles>User Interface>Mobile>Usability

4.
#30795

Advancing Advanced Search

Advanced search is the ugly child of interface design--always included, but never loved. Websites have come to depend on their search engines as the volume of content has increased. Yet advanced search functionality has not significantly developed in years. Poor matches and overwhelming search results remain a problem for users. Perhaps the standard search pattern deserves a new look. A progressive disclosure approach can enable users to use precision advanced search techniques to refine their searches and pinpoint the desired results.

Turbek, Stephen. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Articles>Web Design>Search>User Interface

5.
#21604

Aero, El Escritorio Que Viene

El futuro de Windows pasa por Longhorn, el nuevo sistema operativo que Microsoft prepara para 2005 y que supondrá, según ellos, la 'inmersión vital' de los usuarios en la nueva tecnología. Revisamos lo que se sabe de ello hasta el momento.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Articles>User Interface>Operating Systems>Microsoft Windows

6.
#27360

Affordances

The concept of an affordance was coined by the perceptual psychologist James J. Gibson in his seminal book The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. The concept was introduced to the HCI community by Donald Norman in his book The Psychology of Everyday Things from 1988. There has however been ambiguity in Norman's use of the concept, and the concept thus requires a more elaborate explanation.

Soegaard, Mads. Interaction-Design.org (2006). Articles>User Interface>Usability

7.
#26374

Agent vs. Agent

The phrase User agent or user-agent or UA or browser or client or client application or client software program...all pretty much refer to the same thing. Or maybe not.

evolt (2002). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Web Browsers

8.
#33384

AJAX Interface Design

AJAX enables faster, more responsive Web applications through a combination of asynchronous Javascript, the Document Object Model (DOM), and XMLhttpRequest. What this means for Web interface designers is that a DHTML-based Web application can make quick, incremental updates to a user interface without reloading the entire screen.

Wroblewski, Luke. LukeW Interface Designs (2006). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Ajax

9.
#37658

Android and iPhone App Design: Is It Twice the Work?

Less than one year ago, most of my clients were requesting iPhone app design. Today they are still asking for iPhone app design but many also say, “Do you do Android, too?” Most of them plan to start with one platform, see how things go, and then decide whether to invest in the second platform. This roll-out strategy is often tied into engineering costs. Since few developers possess the coding skills required for each platform—Objective C for iPhone and Java for Android—it’s often necessary to hire two development teams. But what about design? Would I, too, have to do twice the work when designing for the iPhone and Android? And what will happen if the Windows, Palm, and Blackberry app stores take off? Would I have to do five times the work?

Ginsburg, Suzanne. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Interface>Mobile

10.
#33720

Antipatterns

Using patterns has become a well-known design practice and is also considered best practice in the software development community. While UX teams can and should constantly promote best practice, we can also approach tackling poor design practice from the other side: antipatterns. Antipatterns are approaches to common problems that might appear obvious, but are less than optimal in practice.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Interface

11.
#37555

Apps vs. the Web

Pull the iPhone out of your pocket and look at the home screen. Likely, you’re seeing some well known brands on the web: Facebook, Flickr, and Google to name just a few. You’ll also see companies like Amazon, Target, and Walmart which sell a lot of products via the web. Like you, these sites and companies know how to build an effective website using the latest and greatest web technologies. The iPhone’s Safari browser also supports HTML5 markup with CSS3 styling and is powered by a fast JavaScript engine. So why is there a proliferation of apps instead of web pages that can do the same thing?

Hockenberry, Craig. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>Mobile>User Interface

12.
#21427

Arm-Wrestling the Photoshop Police

Adobe is shipping a 6.0 upgrade to Photoshop that, for many Mac users, proves unusable. We learned back in the 1980s that when you rake your legitimate users over the coals in the hopes of catching the occasional thief, you end up with a lot of really raked off users. Apparently, someone at Adobe has forgotten.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>User Interface>Software>Adobe Photoshop

13.
#33371

The Art of Expectations

I’d personally love a computer experience which emphasized ‘flow’ and gradual, constant change. No longer would every little change pull your attention away from an important task. Instead, those Mail notifications, system messages and the like could gently change without you noticing, until you decided you wanted to actually look.

Lang, Keith. UI and Us (2008). Articles>User Interface>User Centered Design>Cognitive Psychology

14.
#34935

The Art of Icons

Being "minimalist" and "streamlined" is not always most effective. Have you ever written yourself a quick, shorthand note, only to find later that you had no way to unpack your own great idea? Icons work similarly. They are pictures – meant to provide a visual shorthand to users moving through a task. While research indicates that icons are best when initially paired with text to increase recognition and learnability, users experienced with a given set of icons will begin to ignore the text, scanning for and acting from the image alone.

Michaels, Mary M. UI Design Newsletter (2007). Articles>Graphic Design>User Interface

15.
#15089

Ask Your Phone   (PDF)

Grattan introduces Intercom readers to voice portals, an emergent technology that allows phone access to Internet-based information.

Grattan, Naomi. Intercom (2001). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Voice

16.
#20816

Assessing the Usability of a User Interface Standard

User interface standards can be hard to use for developers. In a laboratory experiment, 26 students achieved only 71% compliance with a two page standard; many violations were due to influence from previous experience with non-standard systems. In a study of a real company's standard,developers were only able to find 4 of 12 deviations in a sample system, and three real products broke between 32% and 55% of the mandatory rules in the standard. Designers were found to rely heavily on the examples in the standard and their experience with other user interfaces.

Thovtrup, Henrik and Jakob Nielsen. Alertbox (1991). Articles>User Interface>Standards>Usability

17.
#28675

The Atmosphere at Interaction Frontiers 2006

Interaction Frontiers 2006 was a great experience, with some margin for improvement. I'm sure next year's Interaction Frontiers will be even bigger and better.

Bellocchio, Giovanni. UXmatters (2006). Articles>User Interface>User Experience

18.
#25470

Baby Duck Syndrome

What if something neither looks nor quacks like a duck, but users think it is a duck? The cranky user comments on baby duck syndrome and how it can trap users with systems and interfaces that don't really meet their needs.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability

19.
#26446

Balancing Fidelity in Prototyping

Deceived by their ideas of what clients will accept, many web development teams build prototypes that are too costly and doesn't serve the purpose prototypes are supposed to. To exploit the full potential of prototyping, it's critical to choose the appropriate level of fidelity.

Olsen, Henrik. GUUUI (2005). Articles>User Interface>Prototyping

20.
#31147

Barrierefreie Informationstechnik: ein Thema nicht nur für behinderte Menschen   (Word)

Abgeflachte Bürgersteige, Rampen statt Stufen, tiefergelegte Busse - an den alltäglichen baulichen Barrieren für Kinderwägen und Rollstuhlfahrer wird gearbeitet. Im IT-Bereich dagegen ließ Barrierefreiheit bislang auf sich warten: Viele Websites sind nicht für jeden zugänglich. Mit dem Gesetz zur Gleichstellung behinderter Menschen sind öffentliche Institutionen seit Anfang Mai 2002 verpflichtet, ihre Websites barrierefrei zu gestalten.

Heuwinkel, Roland. Doculine (2002). (German) Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Accessibility>User Interface

21.
#37070

Biological Motion and Happy Interfaces

If visual design speaks to the user's aesthetics, and interactive design to the user's cognition, then this seems to be something else. Aside from the notable exception of Don Norman's Emotional Design, this is an aspect of design that we don't often think about: playing to the user's awareness of emotion.

Faaborg, Alex. UX Magazine (2010). Articles>User Experience>User Interface>Emotions

22.
#22190

Border? What Border? Documents are Interfaces   (peer-reviewed)

Documents are interfaces. In situations where documents help us do tasks - whether simple or complex - they look and act like software interfaces. Academics in technical communication are in the business of helping people learn to design, build, analyze, and assess these interfaces. Yet, only occasionally do we admit this responsibility. Judging from our curricula, our research journals, and our textbooks, we still view this responsibility as somehow distinct from what we do to teach 'technical writing,' 'technical editing,' or 'document design.' It isn't.

Hart-Davidson, William. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>User Interface>Theory

23.
#23972

Branding and the User Interface, Part 1: Brand Basics

Develops a foundation for future, more detailed discussions by introducing several key brand concepts.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>Marketing

24.
#23969

Branding and the User Interface, Part 2: Tips on New Media Branding: Behavior and Color

A look at how branding differs between traditional applications, like printed corporate collateral, and emerging new media applications, such as software user interfaces, with a focus on behavior and color.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>User Centered Design

25.
#27543

A Breakdown of the Psychomotor Components of Input Device Usage

This study investigates the breakdown of the psychomotor components of three different input devices, the mouse, trackball, and RollerMouse™ using the Stochastic Optimized Submovement Model. Primary movement time (PMT), Total Movement Time (TMT), Primary Movement Distance (PMD), and Total Movement Distance (TMD) were examined for each device. Results showed that psychomotor variables related to the primary phase of movement help to pinpoint how performance efficiency is affected by a particular device. For example, the relationship between %PMD and efficiency suggests that a device that affords users an initial accurate movement decreases the need for more or longer corrective submovements, thus reducing movement time.

Slocum, Jeremy. Usability News (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability

 
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