A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Design>Web Design>User Interface

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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


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


Ajax for Lightboxes

In a world where everything is designed to amaze and distract, it's awfully difficult to get a user's attention. Learn how to use new techniques such as lightboxes, pop-ups, windows, and fading messages with your Ajax tools to get your users' eyes on your content.

Herrington, Jack D. IBM (2007). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Ajax


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



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


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


Art and Culture

This site offers a unique approach to contextual navigation, and one that has gotten the attention of many reviewers. From the site: 'ArtandCulture.com is a dynamic destination that delivers unique access to the best arts and cultural content and related products available on the web today....focused on creating the context that makes information truly meaningful.' In this review, I'll focus on some of the interesting navigation strategies the site presents.

Danzico, Liz. Bobulate (2003). Design>Web Design>User Interface>DHTML


Beating the Rap on User Interface Standards   (PDF)

When your manager asked (told) you to write a user interface (UI) design standard, was it a no-win proposition? Apparently many developers feel that way.

Schaffer, Eric M. Human Factors International (1996). Design>Web Design>User Interface


The Big Dig: Mining Nuggets of Value   (PDF)

It is difficult to apply the lessons learned from e-commerce search interfaces to more complex ones, such as those for libraries or technical material. This article provides a guide to tailoring search interfaces to users with a persona-based approach.

McDaniel, Scott M. User Experience (2002). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Search


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


Building the Front End: Craft Intelligent and Intuitive Front Ends for Ajax Applications

With Ajax still one of the industry's hottest buzzwords, more and more applications are being built with Ajax technologies. However, it's not always easy to build a good application. This article focuses on how to build intuitive, easy-to-use Ajax-driven applications.

McLaughlin, Brett D. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Ajax


The Bull's-Eye: A Framework for Web Application User Interface Design Guidelines

A multi-leveled framework for user interface design guidelines of Web applications is presented. User interface design guidelines tend to provide information that is either too general, so that it is difficult to apply to a specific case, or too specific, so that a wide range of products is not supported. The framework presented is unique in that it provides a bridge between the two extremes. It has been dubbed the "Bull's-Eye' due to its five layers, represented as concentric circles. The center of the Bull's-Eye is the Component layer, followed by Page Templates, Page Flows, Interface Models and Patterns, and Overarching Features and Principles. To support this approach,requirements were gathered from user interface designers,product managers, UI developers, and product developers. Also, usability testing of the guidelines occurred on several levels, from broad guideline tests to more specific product tests. The guidelines and lessons learned are intended to serve as examples for others seeking to design families of Web applications or Web sites.

Beier, Betsy and Misha W. Vaughan. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Web Design>User Interface


Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!

You know all that copy that goes around your forms and in your confirmation e-mails? Who’s writing it? Derek Powazek explains why it’s important for user-interface designers to sharpen up their writing skills.

Powazek, Derek. List Apart, A (2006). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Writing


Clean, Cutting-Edge UI Design Cuts McAfee's Support Calls by 90%

When McAfee Inc. recently introduced its ProtectionPilot software--a dashboard-type management console for its Active VirusScan SMB Edition and Active Virus Defense SMB Edition suites--the trial downloads were fast and furious: In the first 10 weeks after release, more than 20,000 users went online to get a copy.

Hadley, Bruce. SoftwareCEO (2004). Articles>Web Design>User Interface


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


Complex Dynamic Lists: Your Order Please

Help your site’s visitors reach their goals quickly with a dynamic menu that takes its cue from the Mac OS X Finder.

Heilmann, Christian. List Apart, A (2005). Design>Web Design>User Interface>DHTML


Creative User Interfaces in Modern Web Design

The whole may be more than the sum of its parts, but without the parts, there is no whole. Lest that sound like some weird philosophical meandering to you, take comfort in observing the finer aspects of creative and appealing user interface design.

Smashing (2008). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Critical Thinking in Web/Interface Design Part 1

At the heart of design and engineering is critical thinking. The ability to separate what is worthwhile from what isn't is the hallmark of the best in many fields, from film directors to project managers, programmers to designers.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2001). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Critical Thinking in Web/Interface Design Part 2: Idea Generation

How do you cultivate good ideas? What process do you use? This issue discusses how critical thinking relates to generating and managing good ideas in design.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2001). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Dark Patterns: Deception vs. Honesty in UI Design

Deception is entwined with life on this planet. Insects deceive, animals deceive, and of course, we human beings use deception to manipulate, control, and profit from each other. It’s no surprise, then, that deception appears in web user interfaces; what is surprising is how little we talk about it. All the guidelines, principles, and methods ethical designers employ to design usable websites can be subverted to benefit business owners at the expense of users. Study the dark side so you can take a stand against unethical web design practices and banish them from your work.

Brignull, Harry. List Apart, A (2011). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Ethics


Designing Better HTML Authoring Tools

A collection of proposed new tools and features for adding structure to the Web.

Hoffman, Michael. Hypertext Navigation. Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Software


Designing Search Pages   (PDF)

Many web sites and applications include a search feature. Often they provide an extremely simple search interface consisting of a single text box and a "Go" button. Sometimes, however, the users' tasks call for more sophistication, and guidelines for complex search interfaces are difficult to find. This paper details four levels of search interface, and it provides heuristics (guidelines) to use when designing complex search interfaces. Different solutions are appropriate, depending on the users' motivation and knowledge of their subject, experience using search interfaces, and search goals. Finally, PubMed serves as a useful example to illustrate how these guidelines can be used to analyze existing search interfaces.

McDaniel, Scott M. STC Proceedings (2004). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Search


Designing User Interfaces For Business Web Applications

Business Web application design is too often neglected. I see a lot of applications that don’t meet the needs of either businesses or users and thus contribute to a loss of profit and poor user experience. It even happens that designers are not involved in the process of creating applications at all, putting all of the responsibility on the shoulders of developers.

Jovanovic, Janko. Smashing (2010). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>User Interface


Designing Web Interfaces

Developing an effective framework for a large collection of linked documents involves: creating an efficient hierarchy of information; mapping task flows through the information hierarchy; determining the best depth for the information space; and creating nodes of appropriate length. These four tasks should be undertaken in order. Each one depends on the outcomes of preceding tasks. Because these elements are interdependent, however, several good solutions to the first two should be developed so that problems with site depth and node length can be addressed.

Kaplan, Nancy and Meg Heisse. University of Baltimore (1998). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Develop an Ajax-Based File Upload Portlet Using DWR

File upload is a basic function of today's Web portals. In this article, authors Xiaobo Yang and Rob Allan describe how to develop an Ajax-based file upload JSR 168-compliant portlet using DWR (Direct Web Remoting). DWR is an ideal Ajax framework for Java developers that dynamically generates JavaScript based on server-side deployed Java classes. You will learn how you can use DWR to retrieve file upload progress from the portal server.

Yang, Xiabo and Robert Allan. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Ajax



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