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Design>User Interface>Usability

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The Art of User Interface Prototyping

It takes a certain craft to know how and when to build prototypes of web designs or software designs. This primer of prototyping explains when and how to build them.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2000). Design>User Interface>Usability


Browser and GUI Chrome

"Chrome" is the user interface overhead that surrounds user data and web page content. Although chrome obesity can eat half of the available pixels, a reasonable amount enhances usability.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2012). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Web Design


Change Your Goal, Extend Your Role   (PDF)

The author suggests expanding your role as a technical communicator to enhance software usability by creating better user interface labels and application messages. Henry bases his suggestions on an integrated user-centered information design (UCID) approach driven by product usability. He explains UCID, describes how to prepare for a new role as a 'designer of product usability,' and shows how to effectively design labels and develop application messages.

Henry, Pradeep. Intercom (2000). Design>User Interface>Usability


Closeness of Actions and Objects in GUI Design

Users overlook features if the GUI elements — such as buttons and checkboxes — are too far away from the objects they act on.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2010). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Usability


Common Automotive Interaction Design Mistakes

People spend a great deal of time driving their cars, so cars should be as easy to use, and as effective as possible. However, most cars are filled with common design mistakes that are annoyances at the least, and often downright dangerous.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>User Interface>Usability


Common Principles: A Usable Interface Design Primer

When users perform a transaction or action, their cognition is often split between learning and operating the system or user interface (UI). A well-designed UI allows users to focus the majority of their cognitive energy on learning, and offers no operational complications. This most general principle of usability is often called the 'transparent interface.' The transparent interface is commonly defined as one that maximizes user task completion and minimizes interfering factors, such as unnecessary interface complexity or performance.

Oppedisano, Rick. Usability Professionals Association (2002). Design>User Interface>Usability


Design Study 2: Structured Selection with a Multi-Modal Extended Selection List   (PDF)

The design of a special-purpose selection list is reviewed. As part of a performance-support application for classroom teachers, a means was needed for rapid selection from a large number of alternative words. By taking into account the inherent structure of the terms in the list, instead of treating it as a simple list of unspecified objects, a more efficient and more easily used design was achieved. By incorporating the structure of the alternatives, the design was also able to reflect and support best practices in classroom lesson planning.

Constantine, Larry L. and Lucy A.D. Lockwood. Constantine and Lockwood (2001). Design>User Interface>Usability


Designing Embraceable Change

It's not that people resist change whole-scale. They just hate losing control and feeling stupid. When we make critical changes, we risk putting our users in that position. We must take care to ensure that we've considered the process of change as much as we've considered the technology changes themselves. Only then will we end up with changes that our users embrace.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2005). Design>User Interface>Redesign>Usability


Effects of RSVP Display Design on Visual Performance in Accomplishing Dual Tasks with Small Screens   (peer-reviewed)

Rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) represents a mechanism for exhibiting temporal information instead of spatial information to overcome the limitations of small-screen devices. Previous studies examining this area focused only on information presented by RSVP displays and disregarded changes in the performance of accompanying tasks associated with such displays. Therefore, this investigation performed a dual-task experiment (a search task for static information and a reading task for RSVP display information) to examine the effects of presentation mode (character-by-character, word-by-word, and one-line format), speed (171, 260, 350, and 430 characters per minute, or cpm), and text-flow orientation (vertical and horizontal orientation) of RSVP display information on the visual performance of users during different stages of usage (whether current usage is the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or eighth day of usage) for a small screen.

Chen, Chien-Hsiung and Yu-Hung Chien. International Journal of Design (2007). Design>User Interface>Information Design>Usability


El Enlace: Forma y Función

Los enlaces, en la actual Web, tienen la función de representar un vínculo o conexión unidireccional entre dos nodos web. Son la unidad básica de interacción de los sistemas hipertexto, por lo que la interacción en la Web comúnmente es conocida como Navegación. En un espacio virtual compuesto por nodos y vínculos entre dichos nodos, si se entiende que la ubicación del usuario está en el nodo que se encuentra visualizando, la interacción sobre los enlaces con la posterior visualización de otros nodos se entiende como un desplazamiento o, en un océano de nodos, como navegación. Para que el usuario dentro de nuestro sitio web experimente una navegación eficiente, fácil y satisfactoria, los enlaces no sólo tendrán que conectar nodos con contenidos verdaderamente relacionados, sino además presentarse de tal forma que el usuario entienda sin ambigüedades que se trata de un enlace, comprendiendo consecuentemente su función.

Hassan Montero, Yusef. Nosolousabilidad.com (2002). (Spanish) Design>User Interface>Usability


Empirical Evaluation of a Popular Cellular Phone's Menu System: Theory Meets Practice   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

A usability assessment entailing a paper prototype was conducted to examine menu selection theories on a small screen device by determining the effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction of a popular cellular phone's menu system. Outcomes of this study suggest that users prefer a less extensive menu structure on a small screen device. The investigation also covered factors of category classification and item labeling influencing user performance in menu selection. Research findings suggest that proper modifications in these areas could significantly enhance the system's usability and demonstrate the validity of paper-prototyping which is capable of detecting significant differences in usability measures among various model designs.

Huang, Sheng-Cheng, I-Fan Chou and Randolph G. Bias. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>User Interface>Usability>User Centered Design


Facilitating Data Exploration with Query Previews: A Study of User Performance and Preference

Current networked and local data exploration systems that use command languages (e.g. SQL), menus, or form fillin interfaces do not give users an indication of the distribution of data in their databases. This often leads users to waste time, posing queries that have zero-hit or mega-hit results. Query previews are a novel visual approach for browsing and querying networked or local databases. Query previews supply users with data distribution information for selected attributes of a database, and give continuous feedback about the size of the result set as the query is being formed. Subsequent refinements might be necessary to narrow the search sufficiently. Because there is a risk that query previews are an additional step, leading to a more complex and slow search process, we ran a within subjects empirical study with 12 subjects who used interfaces with and without query previews and with no network delays. Even with this small number of subjects and minimized network delays we found statistically significant differences showing that query previews could speed up performance 1.6 to 2.1 times and lead to higher subjective satisfaction.

Tanin, Egemen, Amnon Lotem, Ihab Haddadin, Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant and Laura Slaughter. SHORE (1999). Design>User Interface>Usability>Search


Five Survival Techniques for Creating Usable Products

When we ask designers what stage they spend the bulk of their time in when launching a product, the majority of designers answer, the Implementation Stage. However, our research shows that the teams launching the most usable products on schedule and on budget spend the bulk of their time in the Measure and Learn stage.

Perfetti, Christine. User Interface Engineering (2007). Design>Usability>User Interface>Methods


Formularios: Identificación de los Campos Opcionales

Completar formularios en los sitios web es uno de los procesos que requiere normalmente mayor esfuerzo por parte del usuario. No disponer de formularios 'usables' puede ser una de las causas de abandono más frecuente de un sitio web. Para conseguir formularios usables se deben tener en cuenta muchos aspectos. Uno de ellos, es diferenciar de forma fácil y clara los campos obligatorios de los opcionales[1]. En este artículo se muestran y valoran lo diferentes métodos que utilizan para ello las webs de banca de particulares españolas. El trabajo de campo realizado ha consistido en revisar los procesos de ejecución de transferencias y de registro de nuevos clientes (si lo hubiera) de los sitios web de los siguientes trece bancos: Patagon, Cajamadrid, Cam, Uno-e, eBankinter, CaixaCatalunya, BancoPopular-e, Santander Central Hispano, BBVA, La Caixa, El Monte, Ing-direct, Banesto.

Nosolousabilidad.com (2002). (Spanish) Design>User Interface>Usability


The Greatest Design of all Time

After a while one of my dining companions asked me what I regarded as the greatest design of all time.

Jordan, Pat. uiGarden (2005). Design>Usability>User Interface


Icon Analysis: Evaluating Low Spatial Frequency Compositions

Icons that are difficult to tell apart can lead to disastrous consequences. Queen shows us how studying the way the human visual system encodes information can lead to more effective icon design.

Queen, Matt. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Design>User Interface>Usability


The Inclusion Principle

Affordance allows us to look at something and intuitively understand how to interact with it. For example, when we see a small button next to a door, we know we should push it with a finger. Convention tells us it will make a sound, notifying the homeowner that someone is at the door. This concept transfers to the virtual environment: when we see a 3D-shaped button on a web page, we understand that we are supposed to “push” it with a mouse-click.

Link-Rodrigue, Margit. List Apart, A (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Usability


Interaction Elasticity

Usage goes down as interaction costs increase. User motivation determines how fast demand drops, following an elasticity curve.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Interaction Design


Interface Design as a Life or Death Proposition

While the FDA has always required thorough documentation of product development, recent initiatives have instituted a more prescriptive, design-focused procedure encouraging extensive user research at the beginning of the development process.

LeMoine, Doug. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>User Interface>Usability>Biomedical


Macromedia Director as a Prototyping and Usability Testing Tool

Efforts to understand user requirements commonly focus on the functionality and features of a product. However, it is important to analyze other product attributes, such as usability. A product may meet all of its functional requirements, but can fail if it has an interface that is difficult to navigate and learn. To address this problem, it is important to get feedback from users as early in the development life cycle as possible. A common technique is to develop a prototype or mockup of a product's interface to present to users.

Ludi, Stephanie. ACM Crossroads (2000). Design>User Interface>Usability


Making the Right Constraints for Usable and Accessible User Interfaces

This paper focuses on managing constraints in a way that enables developers to create an accessible and usable user interface (UI). The constraining processes presented in this paper comprise of a language to describe a logical web page in an application, a basic bottom-up repository management system and the processing required for compiling pages.

Cornelius, Gary and John J. Chelsom. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>User Interface>Usability


Making Usable Products: An Informal Process for Good User Interfaces

At Microsoft we have full-time employees, called usability engineers, who are trained to help product teams understand what the user's needs are, and analyze how well our product user interfaces match those needs. They do a great deal of work, and understand the discipline of UI design and data collection really well. They are critical to the success of our products. As I've learned from the e-mail I've been getting at hfactor@microsoft.com, most developers don't have the luxury of this kind of support, and are on their own to make good interface design decisions. This issue will introduce a basic development process that helps good UI make it into products. Word of warning: There is no magic recipe for good UI, or for writing good code, and I can't guarantee improved interfaces without some extra effort.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (1999). Design>User Interface>Usability


Más Allá de la Usabilidad: Interfaces 'Afectivas'

La creciente popularización de las nuevas tecnologías de la información obliga a que cualquier producto interactivo sea diseñado para una audiencia cada vez más heterogénea y menos tolerante con experiencias de uso frustrantes. Las técnicas, metodologías y prácticas propias de la Usabilidad y Accesibilidad, intentan hacer frente a este hecho, estudiando las necesidades, objetivos y comportamiento del usuario, y enfocando cualquier decisión sobre el diseño, así como la evaluación, en base a estos factores.

Hassan Montero, Yusef and Francisco Jesus Martin Fernandez. Nosolousabilidad.com (2003). (Spanish) Design>User Interface>Usability>User Centered Design


Ode to Balloon Help

Perhaps we should look to the simplest elements of usability for inspiration. Perhaps it's time to recognize the contribution of a single humble helper. Yes, it's time for an ode to Balloon Help.

Cavanagh, Thomas B. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Design>User Interface>Usability


People Finder: Searching Without Logic? Improving the People Finder Application

One of the most frequent tasks on many intranets is finding people within the company. Providing an effective way to search people is thus a key goal in designing intranets. This goal becomes even more important for an organization like Emirates, a leading international airline, which has over 35,000 employees with over 140 nationalities and where more people are likely to use this feature more frequently.

Deshmukh, Vivek. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Interface



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