A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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The Essentials: Responsive Design   (members only)

Responsive design makes it possible for our content to adapt to any device. This means that technical communicators no longer need to spend time designing and creating deliverables for different devices, we can instead focus on developing and delivering high-quality content. Responsive design gives us the opportunity to create once and deliver to thousands of devices: new ones, older ones, and ones that don’t even exist yet.

Bleiel, Nicky. Society for Technical Communication (2014). Articles>TC>User Interface>Help


The Ever-Evolving Arrow: Universal Control Symbol

The arrow and its brethren are everywhere on our computer screens. For example, a quick examination of the Firefox 3.0 browser, shown in Figure 1 in its standard configuration, yields eight examples of arrows—Forward, Back, and Reload buttons, scroll bar controls, and drop-down menus that reveal search engine, history, and bookmark choices.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Graphic Design


Evolving User Interface Standards

Every software development team either hires a UI specialist or consults an expert to design the next best killer application. As more and more users log onto the net, user base tends to grow and new technologies evolve, web developers and designers are left with very little time to cope up with new techniques in user interface. Thus a new wave of User Interface issues has occurred in the software development life cycle.

Sarjapur, Harsha. uiGarden (2006). Design>User Interface>Standards


Executive Dashboards

Contrary to first impression, an 'executive dashboard' is not found in a CIO’s car. Rather, an executive dashboard, also known as a manager dashboard, executive cockpit, or digital cockpit, is a child of what in the 1980s was referred to as the Executive Information System (EIS).

Kirtland, Alex. Boxes and Arrows (2003). Articles>Management>User Interface>EPSS


Expanding Text Areas Made Elegant

An expanding text area is a multi-line text input field that expands in height to fit its contents. Commonly found in both desktop and mobile applications, such as the SMS composition field on the iPhone, it’s a good choice when you don’t know how much text the user will write and you want to keep the layout compact; as such, it’s especially useful on interfaces targeted at smartphones. Yet despite the ubiquity of this control, there’s no way to create it using only HTML and CSS, and most JavaScript solutions have suffered from guesswork, inaccuracy, or a lack of elegance … until now.

Jenkins, Neil. List Apart, A (2011). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Forms


The Explorer Bar: Unifying and Improving Web Navigation   (PDF)

The Explorer bar is a component of the Internet Explorer web browser that provides a unified model for web navigation activities. The user tasks of searching for new sites, visiting favorite sites, and accessing previously viewed sites are simplified and enhanced by using a single user interface element.

Berkun, Scott. ScottBerkun.com (2005). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Exploring Types and Characteristics of Product Forms   (peer-reviewed)

Incorporating emotional value into products has become an essential strategy for increasing a product's competitive edge in the consumer market. It is therefore important for product manufacturers to understand how products affect consumers' emotions. This study was undertaken to investigate the types and characteristics of household products that elicit pleasurable responses, in particular among young, college-age consumers. The results of the study could suggest the types and characteristics to consider when developing pleasurable products aimed at young consumers.

Chang, Wen-chih and Tyan-Yu Wu. International Journal of Design (2007). Design>User Interface>User Experience>Emotions


Extending UML for User Interface

This paper seeks to set out my current position and opinion on how the Unified Modeling Language might be extended to accommodate the modeling of interaction design and user interface design for the purpose of facilitating a user centered design process. I will be presenting proposals for two distinct levels of abstraction in the development of a user interface design. For the higher level, the Interaction Design, I will seek to layout a laundry list of attributes that would be required by a good modeling language for Interaction Design.

Anderson, David J. UIdesign (2000). Design>User Interface>UML


Extensible User Interface Language (XUL)

XUL is an XML-based language for describing the contents of windows and dialogs. XUL has language constructs for all of the typical dialog controls, as well as for widgets like toolbars, trees, progress bars, and menus. Where HTML describes the contents of a single document, XUL describes the contents of an entire window (which could itself contain multiple HTML documents).

Cover Pages (2003). Design>User Interface>XML


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


Fast-Track User-Centered Design Techniques

The problem: we are being asked to do more UCD work, faster, and with smaller staffs. Sound familiar? Thirteen practitioners met in Asheville, N.C. at UPA 2000 to examine the questions of how we can reduce time and costs and still achieve good results. They developed many practical tips and considerations.

Bugental, J.O. 'Joe' and Kristin Travis. Usability Professionals Association (2001). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Faucet Facets: Few Best Practices for Designing Multifaceted Navigation Systems

So often we assume that Web sites should be hierarchically organized. We talk about a 'home page' that offers 'top-level navigation' so that users can 'drill down' to the content. It's as if we're programmed to think top down. But what about information that isn't as easily structured this way? Sometimes, content has many attributes that have different importance to different users. A hierarchy assumes everyone approaches these attributes the same way, but that's often not the case.

Veen, Jeffrey. Adaptive Path (2002). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Fitts's User Interface Law Applied to the Web

Interface design is difficult in part because everything requires interpretation. A design that works for one task or one user might not be appropriate for another. In other types of engineering, like architecture or bridge building, designers can always rely on laws of physics and gravity to make designs work. There is at least one immutable rule for interface design that we know about, and it's called Fitts's Law. It can be applied to software interfaces as well as Web site design because it involves the way people interact with mouse or other pointing devices. Most GUI platforms have built-in common controls designed with Fitts's Law in mind. Many Web designers, however, have yet to recognize the powerful little facts that make this concept so useful.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2000). Design>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Web Design


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


Five Ways to Create Better iPad Applications

We've just passed the two-year mark of the iPad being on the market. And with a second milestone of 200,000 iPad applications on the App Store nearing, there's no better time than now to reassess how to approach the UX of iPad applications.Some of the ideas in this article are relevant to all tablets, not just the iPad. But in consideration of the tremendous success of the iPad (73% of all tablet sales last year), it does warrant specific attention and focus. So, without further ado, here are five interface guidelines to (re)consider when approaching the UX and design of iPad applications.

Yarmoush, Ken. UX Magazine (2012). Design>User Interface>User Experience>Mobile



Flamenco es un proyecto de interfaz de usuario sumamente versátil que combina la búsqueda directa en la base de datos con la navegación siguiendo enlaces organizados en una jerarquía de metadatos (datos sobre los datos) y la previsualización de resultados relacionados.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2002). (Spanish) Design>User Interface


Fonts, Image, Interface Layout Solution under High Resolution

For an application to work well under a high resolution display environment, there are four major elements to consider: Text, Fonts, Image (Picture, Icon and Mouse Cursors), and Layout.

Liu, Steven. uiGarden (2006). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


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


Foundations of Interaction Design

An interview with David Malouf on his article, Foundations of Interaction Design. We discuss several foundations of Interaction design including time, metaphor, abstraction, and negative space. David also provides greater detail to comments posted on his article from readers from around the world.

Malouf, David Heller and Jeff Parks. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Podcasts


Fragments (of Time)

The best web interfaces take time – the one asset that seems to be in perpetually short supply. Leading Scandinavian web developer Pär Almqvist presents a time-based perspective on web interfaces and the network economy.

Almqvist, Pär. List Apart, A (2000). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Framework of Product Experience

In this paper, we introduce a general framework for product experience that applies to all affective responses that can be experienced in human-product interaction. Three distinct components or levels of product experiences are discussed: aesthetic experience, experience of meaning, and emotional experience. All three components are distinguished in having their own lawful underlying process.

Desmet, Pieter and Paul Hekkert. International Journal of Design (2007). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>User Experience


From Computing Machinery to Interaction Design

When asked to project 50 years ahead, a scientist is in a bit of a quandary. It is easy to indulge in wishful thinking, or to promote favorite current projects and proposals, but it is a daunting task to anticipate what will actually come to pass in a time span that is eons long in our modern accelerated age. If fifty years ago, when the ACM was founded, biologists had been asked to predict the next 50 years of biology, it would have taken amazing prescience to anticipate the science of molecular biology. Or for that matter, only a few years before the initiation of the ACM even those with the most insight about computing would have been completely unable to foresee today's world of pervasive workstations, mobile communicators, and gigabit networking.

Winograd, Terry. Stanford University (1997). Design>User Interface>Interaction Design


From Essential Use Cases to Objects   (PDF)

One of the main motivations for essential use cases was the context of user interface design. We, however, have been exploring the application of essential use cases in general object-oriented system development. Our experience has been very positive, and we found advantages to essential use cases that assist in both analysis and in design. This paper outlines two techniques involving essential use cases: use of role-play in requirements analysis, and distribution of system requirements from essential use cases to objects.

Biddle, Robert, James Noble and Ewan Tempero. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>User Interface>Methods


From GUI to E(motional) UI

How ironic that we think we can get more exact results from our computers by emulating human interaction, but when we want exact results from human interaction, we unintentionally emulate computers. Engineering, air traffic control, legal contracts--in all endeavors where precise communication is critical--our success has depended on washing out human emotion and natural language in favor of formal procedures and protocols, complete with a detailed domain-specific language.

Agro, Leandro. UXmatters (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>User Interface>Emotions


From Usage Scenarios to User Interface Elements in a Few Steps   (PDF)

In practice, designers often select user interface elements like widgets intuitively. So, important design decisions may never become conscious or explicit, and therefore also not traceable. In order to improve this situation, we propose a systematic process for selecting user interface elements (in the form of widgets) in a few explicitly defined steps, starting from usage scenarios. This process provides a seamless way of going from scenarios through (attached) subtask definitions and various task classifications and (de)compositions to widget classes. In this way, it makes an important part of user interface design more systematic and conscious. For an initial evaluation of the usefulness of this approach, we conducted a small experiment that compares the widgets of an industrial GUI that was developed as usual by experienced practitioners, with the outcome of an independent execution of the proposed process. Since the results of this experiment are encouraging, we suggest to investigate this approach further in real-world practice.

Kaindl, Hermann and Rudolf Jezek. Constantine and Lockwood (2002). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design



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