A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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Attractive Things Work Better   (PDF)

Until recently, emotion was an ill-explored part of human psychology. Some people thought it an evolutionary left-over from our animal origins. Most thought of emotions as a problem to be overcome by rational, logical thinking. And most of the research focused upon negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger. Modern work has completely reversed this view.

Norman, Donald A. JND.org (2003). Design>User Interface>User Experience>Emotions


An Audience of One: Creating Products for Very Small Workgroups

As creators of digital user experiences, we must transform complex workflows and tasks into useful applications. Experts have written much about the UX design process as it applies to broad audiences, industry-specific vertical markets, and large corporate user groups. However, as our evolving information economy continues to encourage greater and greater specialization of job roles, there is an increased need for customized applications--digital systems that only a select few people will ever use.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2007). Design>User Interface>Collaboration


Baby Duck Syndrome

What if something neither looks nor quacks like a duck, but users think it is a duck? The cranky user comments on baby duck syndrome and how it can trap users with systems and interfaces that don't really meet their needs.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Balancing Fidelity in Prototyping

Deceived by their ideas of what clients will accept, many web development teams build prototypes that are too costly and doesn't serve the purpose prototypes are supposed to. To exploit the full potential of prototyping, it's critical to choose the appropriate level of fidelity.

Olsen, Henrik. GUUUI (2005). Articles>User Interface>Prototyping


Barras de Mosaicos

Las barras de mosaico (TileBars) son una técnica de visualización de búsquedas en documentos que permiten hacerse una idea más clara de lo que nos devuelve un buscador, añadiendo la serendipia (descubrimiento accidental) al concepto de relevancia.

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


Barrierefreie Informationstechnik: ein Thema nicht nur für behinderte Menschen   (Word)

Abgeflachte Bürgersteige, Rampen statt Stufen, tiefergelegte Busse - an den alltäglichen baulichen Barrieren für Kinderwägen und Rollstuhlfahrer wird gearbeitet. Im IT-Bereich dagegen ließ Barrierefreiheit bislang auf sich warten: Viele Websites sind nicht für jeden zugänglich. Mit dem Gesetz zur Gleichstellung behinderter Menschen sind öffentliche Institutionen seit Anfang Mai 2002 verpflichtet, ihre Websites barrierefrei zu gestalten.

Heuwinkel, Roland. Doculine (2002). (German) Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Accessibility>User Interface


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


Beware of Style in Icon Design!

The icons or baby faces used as part of user interface have now turned into a major aspect of product branding. With powerful computers, enhanced graphics capabilities, advanced tools for illustration, and professionals to advocate rich user experience, icon design has become more important and complex than ever before! Windows Vista has raised the standard of quality icons even higher. An interface design project forced me to think about ’style’ in icon design. It raised some basic questions in my mind.

Katre, Dinesh S. Journal of HCI Vistas (2007). Design>User Interface>Graphic Design


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


Biological Motion and Happy Interfaces

If visual design speaks to the user's aesthetics, and interactive design to the user's cognition, then this seems to be something else. Aside from the notable exception of Don Norman's Emotional Design, this is an aspect of design that we don't often think about: playing to the user's awareness of emotion.

Faaborg, Alex. UX Magazine (2010). Articles>User Experience>User Interface>Emotions


Border? What Border? Documents are Interfaces   (peer-reviewed)

Documents are interfaces. In situations where documents help us do tasks - whether simple or complex - they look and act like software interfaces. Academics in technical communication are in the business of helping people learn to design, build, analyze, and assess these interfaces. Yet, only occasionally do we admit this responsibility. Judging from our curricula, our research journals, and our textbooks, we still view this responsibility as somehow distinct from what we do to teach 'technical writing,' 'technical editing,' or 'document design.' It isn't.

Hart-Davidson, William. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>User Interface>Theory


Branding and the User Interface, Part 1: Brand Basics

Develops a foundation for future, more detailed discussions by introducing several key brand concepts.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>Marketing


Branding and the User Interface, Part 2: Tips on New Media Branding: Behavior and Color

A look at how branding differs between traditional applications, like printed corporate collateral, and emerging new media applications, such as software user interfaces, with a focus on behavior and color.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>User Centered Design


A Breakdown of the Psychomotor Components of Input Device Usage

This study investigates the breakdown of the psychomotor components of three different input devices, the mouse, trackball, and RollerMouse™ using the Stochastic Optimized Submovement Model. Primary movement time (PMT), Total Movement Time (TMT), Primary Movement Distance (PMD), and Total Movement Distance (TMD) were examined for each device. Results showed that psychomotor variables related to the primary phase of movement help to pinpoint how performance efficiency is affected by a particular device. For example, the relationship between %PMD and efficiency suggests that a device that affords users an initial accurate movement decreases the need for more or longer corrective submovements, thus reducing movement time.

Slocum, Jeremy. Usability News (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Usability


Bridging Conceptual Gaps

Many usability problems are instances of what we call 'conceptual gaps.' A conceptual gap arises because of some difference between the user’s mental model of the application and how the application actually works.If the gap is large enough, it can stop the user’s work. For example, a user who wants to search the web for free local concerts may not know how to formulate a query that will yield this information. The gap between the search engine’s syntax and the user’s understanding of that syntax may prevent the user from accomplishing their goal.

User Interface Engineering (1996). Articles>Usability>User Interface


Bringing Gaming to the Disabled

To a huge number of gamers and would-be gamers, though, even the most sensible and well-laid-out controller scheme is unplayable. For them, accessibility and interface issues make gaming at best an incomplete experience and at worst a total impossibility.

Hartford Courant (2009). Articles>Accessibility>User Interface>Games


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


Build a Customizable RSS Feed Aggregator in PHP

RSS (Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication) has been around since the mid-1990s. Over the years, several variants of the RSS format have popped up and several claims have been made about its ownership. Despite these differences, RSS never ceased to serve its usefulness in distributing Web content from one Web site to many others. The popularity of RSS gave way to the growth of a new class of Web software called the feed reader, also known as the feed aggregator. Although there are several commercially available feed aggregators, it's easy to develop your own feed aggregator, which you can integrate with your Web applications. You'll appreciate this article's fully functional PHP code snippets, demonstrating the use of PHP-based server-side functions to develop a customizable RSS feed aggregator. In addition, you'll reap instant benefits from using the fully functional RSS feed aggregator code, which you can download from this article.

Nathan, Senthil. IBM (2008). Articles>User Interface>XML>RSS


Building a Better Launchpad: A Case Study in Helping Users to Complete a Complex Task   (PDF)

A launchpad is a graphical user interface used for tasks that have too many steps or are too complex to fit into a single wizard. The launchpad acts as a central access point for launching a series of related wizards or dialogs, each of which completes one step of the overall task. Our launchpad design further aids novice users by providing a graphical and interactive preview of the steps required to complete the overall task, such as installing or configuring a component. This paper focuses on the process used to create the IBM Launchpad. The paper briefly describes the final design of the launchpad and concludes with process recommendations based on our experiences.

Pupons Wickham, Daina. STC Proceedings (2001). Design>User Centered Design>User Interface


Building a User-Defined Interface

A measurably easy-to-use interface has been built using a novel technique. Novices attempted an electronic mail task using a command-line interface containing no help, no menus, no documentation, and no instruction. A hidden operator intercepted commands when necessary, creating the illusion of a true interactive session. The software was repeatedly revised to recognize users' new commands; in essence, the users defined the interface. This procedure was used on 67 subjects. The first version of the software could recognize only 7% of all the subjects' spontaneously generated commands; the final version could recognize 76% of those commands. This experience contradicts the idea that people are not good at designing their own command languages. Through careful observation and analysis of user behavior, a mail interface unusable by novices evolved into one that let novices do useful work within minutes.

Wixon, Dennis, John Whiteside, Michael Good and Sandra Jones. ACM SIGCHI (1983). Design>User Centered Design>User Interface


Building Disappearing Computers   (peer-reviewed)

A trio of systems illustrates the challenges of designing large displays for use in ubiquitous computing environments that are, indeed, unremarkable.

Russell, Daniel M., Norbert A. Streitz and Terry Winograd. Stanford University (2005). Articles>Computing>User Interface


Building Documentation into the Interface   (PDF)

As documentation is more and more built directly into the interface, and as technical communicators move into interface design and usability, it is important to have a theoretical framework within which to make decisions about what kind of information will be conveyed at any moment. We can build on basic principles of cognitive psychology to help us make these decisions. We start from a question: Why should users be aware of the difference between interface and documentation when all they want is to get something done?

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Documentation>User Interface>Help


Building Documentation Into the Interface: A Cognitive Theory   (PDF)

As documentation is more and more built directly into the interface, and as technical communicators move into areas of interface design and usability, it is important to have a theoretical framework within which to make decisions about what kind of information should be conveyed at any moment.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Documentation>User Interface>Cognitive Psychology


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



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