A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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.
#18320

Active Table-of-Contents Control for Content Navigation and Customization  (link broken)   (PDF)

This report illustrates the design of a novel user interface feature to provide simple and rapid navigation and user customization of the contents of a complex, multipart document. Within a performancesupport application for classroom teachers, the objective was to provide an efficient and instantly learnable scheme for direct user control over the parts to be included in the document as well as quick access to any part of the document. The design relies on the techniques of instructive interaction, an innovative approach for making user interfaces self-teaching even when they incorporate novel or non-standard features.

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

3.
#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

4.
#18247

Adducive: Articles about User Interface Design

Tips and articles on software user interface design, including handheld, speech recognition, desktop, and web-based software, with a focus on the software development process and issues in internationalization. The site also describes services offered and my approach to user interface design.

Krause, Brian R. Adducive.com (1998). Design>User Interface>Software

5.
#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

6.
#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

7.
#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

8.
#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

9.
#29954

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

10.
#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

11.
#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

12.
#18688

An Annotated List of Interaction/Web Design Resources, Books and Websites

This list provides resources about web design, usability, and related topics.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2001). Resources>Bibliographies>User Interface>Usability

13.
#20827

The Anti-Mac: Violating the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines  (link broken)

Graphical computer interfaces have become the norm. They are based on a number of principles such as metaphor, see-and-point, direct manipulation, user control, and WYSIWIG. The Anti-Mac project explored alternative interfaces that might result from violating the principles behind conventional graphical interfaces. What emerges is a human-computer interface based on language, a richer representation of objects, expert users, skilled agents, and shared control.

Nielsen, Jakob. ACM SIGCHI (1995). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Standards

14.
#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

15.
#21743

Apple Human Interface Guidelines   (PDF)

These guidelines are designed to assist you in developing products that provide Mac OS X users with a consistent visual and behavioral experience across applications and the operating system.

Apple Inc. (2003). Design>User Interface>Operating Systems

16.
#30793

The Application of Model Matching Principle in User Interface Design: Part 1  (link broken)

By its nature, all UI consists of two parts: input and output. When designing output information, the matching between system model and conceptual model actually results in another commonly used UI design principle: 'use users' language'. To be more specific, when displaying information to users, such as prompt messages or error messages, the words or terms used should be understandable to users.

Zhang, Liang. uiGarden (2008). Design>User Interface

17.
#30794

The Application of Model Matching Principle in User Interface Design: Part 2

For programmers, a programming language is a software tool. Its interface consists of its lexicon, grammar and semantic rules. From this view, using a language to do programming is actually using that tool to accomplish something. As we will see shortly, different languages vary greatly in the degree of how they get close to programmer's conceptual model.

Zhang, Liang. uiGarden (2008). Design>User Interface>Semantic

18.
#22147

An Application of the Principles of Minimalism to the Design of Human-Computer Interfaces  (link broken)   (PDF)

Minimalism in information design, specifically as applied to user tutorials and manuals, was introduced in the early 1980s through the work of Dr. John M. Carroll, then a cognitive psychologist at the IBM Watson Research Center. Since that time, theorists and practitioners have further elucidated the principles of minimalism and have attempted to apply it to a variety of situations in which people attempt to learn how to use a software application. Most recently, a new exposition of minimalist principles and practices was published by MIT Press. This work, Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel, represents the work of leading theorists and practitioners in the field.

Hackos, JoAnn T. ComTech Services (1999). Design>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Minimalism

19.
#28663

Applying Color Theory to Digital Displays

For backgrounds behind text, use solid, contrasting colors, and avoid the use of textures and patterns, which can make letterforms difficult to distinguish or even illegible. Choose combinations of text color and background color with care. Value contrast between body text and its background color should be a minimum of about eighty percent.

Gabriel-Petit, Pabini. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Interface>Accessibility>Color

20.
#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

21.
#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

22.
#20996

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

23.
#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

24.
#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

25.
#18679

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

 
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