Here are some 'truths' we've all heard: 'Documentation is just a band-aid for poor design.' 'Real users don't read manuals.' 'Super users never read anything.' 'Help doesn't.' But are they really true? I've seen some signs of life in the use of documentation for digital products recently.
Several new user interface technologies and interaction principles seem to define a new generation of user interfaces that will move off the flat screen and into the physical world to some extent. Many of these next-generation interfaces will not have the user control the computer through commands, but will have the computer adapt the dialogue to the user's needs based on its inferences from observing the user. This article defines twelve dimensions across which future user interfaces may differ from the canonical window systems of today: User focus, the computer's role, interface control, syntax, object visibility, interaction stream, bandwidth, tracking feedback, interface locus, user programming, and software packaging. Keywords: Agents, Animated icons, BITPICT, DWIM, Embedded help, Eye tracking, Generations of user interfaces, Gestural interfaces, Help systems, Home computing, Interactive fiction, Interface paradigms, Noncommand based user interfaces, Prototyping, Usability heuristics, Virtual realities, Wizard of Oz method.
Given Microsoft's track record, it would seem awfully foolish for me to bet against them and those who will follow their lead, and the idea does seem superficially reasonable. But despite this, I predict that the ASP aspects of .Net won't work nearly so well as Microsoft hopes and may even fail outright. The problem with Microsoft's ASP approach? The strategy is driven more strongly by economics and a fear of competition from smaller, more nimble ASPs than by customer needs and habits.
Perhaps we should look to the simplest elements of usability for inspiration. Perhaps it's time to recognize the contribution of a single humble helper. Yes, it's time for an ode to Balloon Help.
The argument most frequently advanced in the United Kingdom in favour of implementing electronic voting is that it will increase turnout. In the UK, the under-25s tend to avoid voting in elections of any type. Local government and European Parliament elections rank among the worst for turnout (below 40 percent) and demonstrate a continuous downward trend in recent years.
Interface standards provide context-specific guidance for implementing a system based on the task goals and functions within it. A solid standard provides guidance at two levels. At the level of look and feel, it ensures consistency throughout the application or site. To be meaningful in usability terms, the standard also must provide guidance to support a consistent experience at the functional level.
The second of a pair of presentations by Alan Kay (of Smalltalk fame). The presentation is from 1983 and discusses the development of user interface design from the 1960s onward.
Over the years a range of GUI’s have been developed for different operating systems such as OS/2, Macintosh, Windowsamiga, Linux, Symbian OS, and more. We’ll be taking a look at the evolution of the interface designs of the major operating systems since the 80’s.
Projects critical to the missions of business organizations fail, devastating operations as well as IS budgets. Other systems are created or purchased at great cost only to be underutilized or plagued with non-standard 'work-arounds' that undermine the core efficiencies of the system. Fortunately, many of these systems can be recovered. They are technically adequate and potentially usable. User’s perceptions that they are unusable can be changed* through a multifaceted intervention process that we call Mission Critical System Optimization.
Language experts should play a more active role in shaping the interface because the interface is text. As such, writers do a disservice to project teams if they don’t play a role to help clarify and sharpen the interface language.
When we create technologies that are extremely complex and do not provide comprehensive feedback for each and every possible error, such as a seat belt left unbuckled, people have a tendency to drive their aircraft into garden parties. When we create technologies where similar actions produce dissimilar results, such as placing a brake and accelerator pedal side-by-side, to be actuated in the identical manner by the identical limb, people will periodically die.
For a long time, people have been writing me, asking that I do an in depth review of OS X. I held off because I really didn't think OS X was ready for prime time. That's all changed. OS X, in the form of the Panther release, is more than ready.
One of the most frequent tasks on many intranets is finding people within the company. Providing an effective way to search people is thus a key goal in designing intranets. This goal becomes even more important for an organization like Emirates, a leading international airline, which has over 35,000 employees with over 140 nationalities and where more people are likely to use this feature more frequently.
Software is sometimes poorly designed to begin with and the interface should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch. But more often than not, I see software that started with a decent design and has since had features added onto it with each release, squeezed into the existing design rather than being designed in. People aren't in a design mindset but an 'enhancement' mindset somehow.
The problem of the perpetual super-novice is the tendency of people to stop learning about a digital product--whether it's an operating system, desktop application, Web site, or hardware device.
We have not really given much attention to what most people think of when they think about the topic of internationalization as applied to the design of computer systems. For most people the issue is one of making a system (generally developed for a particular national audience) acceptable in another country.
We love stories, recognise patterns in fractions of a second and have a set of highly developed social behaviours. In "Persuasive Design" Mike will be running through a collection of these hard-wired influence points and exploring how they can be used in the design of products, interfaces and experiences.
'Standards': the word strikes fear in designers around the globe, and makes engineers lives so much easier that they bow at its alter. (Yes, this is an exaggeration for affect, but an important one.) But before we can dig a big deeper into standards for designers, we need to do some definition work.
Mobility coupled with the development of a wide variety of access devices has engendered new requirements for HCI such as the ability of user interfaces (UIs) to adapt to different contexts of use. We define a context of use as the set of values of variables that characterize the computational device(s) used for interacting with the system as well as the physical and social environment where the interaction takes place. A UI is plastic if it is able to adapt to context changes while preserving usability. In this paper we present a reference process for the engineering of plastic user interfaces. The process revises a previously published reference framework. The amendment is twofold: first it refines the design time process and secondly extends its coverage to the run time.
Calvary, Gaelle, Joelle Coutaz, David Thevenin, Quentin Limbourg, Nathalie Souchon, Laurent Bouillon, Murielle Florins and Jean Vanderdonckt. Universite Catholique de Louvain (2002). Design>User Interface
Computer glitches would be a lot less annoying if the machines were programmed to acknowledge errors gracefully when something goes wrong, instead of merely flashing up a brusque "you goofed" message.
This studio/seminar course will contribute to students' practical and theoretical knowledge of user-centered interface design. In the move from Engineering English to Technical Communication, technical communicators increasingly work with and within computer interfaces, as content developers, as human-factors and usability experts, and as information designers. This course examines both the work of interface design, focused on web and multimedia interfaces, and the theory of such work, particularly where it intersects with critical and cultural theory. We'll be looking at the development of user-centered and participatory design (Johnson, Ehn, Winograd), critical theories of technology (Foucault, Feinberg), and design strategies for critiquing or politicizing design (Laurel, Kolko).