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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.