A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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Poor Code Quality Contaminates Users' Conceptual Models

Software bugs and system crashes result in huge productivity losses and undermine users' ability to form good models of how computers work. Website designers can help improve user confidence by prioritizing quality and robustness over features and the latest technology.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2001). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Software


¿Por Qué los Menús Pastel no son Ubicuos?

En el ultimo artículo de InfoVis.net preguntamos a Don Hopkins por qué los menús pastel, que son más eficientes que los menús lineales, no se han hecho ubicuos, siendo usados sólo en algunas aplicaciones como video juegos y algún software experimenta avanzado. Aquí está su respuesta.

Hopkins, Don. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Design>Web Design>User Interface


Powers of 10: Time Scales in User Experience

From 0.1 seconds to 10 years or more, user interface design has many different timeframes, and each has its own particular usability issues.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2009). Articles>Usability>User Experience>User Interface


Review: Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development   (members only)

I was excited to receive my copy of Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development, because I was in the middle of a new software development project and would be responsible for approving the look and feel of the user interface (UI). I was interested in learning more about evolving standards, the proper selection of interface controls based on users' tasks, the best way to decide on and create UI style sheets for use by the development staff, and the problem of quantifying that elusive quality called usability. I hoped this book would enlighten me with practical examples I could put to immediate use. Unfortunately, in that regard, Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development was mostly a disappointment. It might have been better titled A Project Manager's Handbook, because the author's treatment of the topic is extremely broad but not very deep.

Anderson, Darrill. Technical Communication Online (2002). Articles>Reviews>User Interface


Preferences Considered Harmful

Every programmer and user interface designer eventually comes to this point: You can’t decide how a specific part of your user interface should behave. It’s easy, of course. Just make it a preference, and everyone will be happy.

Mathis, Lukas. ignore the code (2008). Articles>User Interface>Usability>User Experience


Previewing Video Data: Browsing Key Frames at High Rates

As the amount of video data in digital libraries increases, support for fast and easy access to this information has become necessary. Our approach is to empower users with direct control of video surrogates and provide interaction flexibility. A video browsing interface prototype using a slide show-style presentation of video key frames was built and tested for user performance and subjective satisfaction. The interface allows display rates to be adjusted interactively. Subjects in this preliminary study performed two browsing-related tasks, object identification and gist determination, at display rates of 1, 4, 8, 12, and 16 key frames per second (kfps). A possible functional limit in accuracy for object identification (OI) was detected between 8 to 12 kfps. Performance for gist determination (GD) tended to degrad with increased display rates. However, no significant performance differences were detected. Furthermore, it was observed that lower rates were required for object identification than for gist determination. Suggestions for designing fast video browsing interfaces are provided.

Ding, Wei, Gary Marchionini and Tony Tse. ISRDP in Digital Libraries (1997). Articles>User Interface>Video


Principles for Usable Design

A well designed user interface is comprehensible and controllable, helping users to complete their work successfully and efficiently, and to feel competent and satisfied. Effective user interfaces are designed based on principles of human interface design. The principles listed below are consolidated from a wide range of published sources (Constantine & Lockwood, 1999; Cooper & Reimann, 2003; Gerhardt-Powals, 1996; Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003; Nielsen, 1994; Schneiderman, 1998; Tognazzini, 2003) and are based on a long history of human-computer interaction research, cognitive psychology, and design best practices.

Usability Body of Knowledge. Design>Usability>User Interface


Princippet om Helhed

Inden for Internet genren hersker der, ligesom i enhver anden medie genre, trends og mode. I denne artikel vil de nuværende strømninger bliver udredet i forbindelse med en fokusering på de generiske elementer, der ligger til grund for webdesign. I relation til enhver løsning vil der kunne tales om et interface. Interface metodologi kendetegnes på nuværende tidspunkt ved en række design zoner, som sætter en linje for ”tidens trend”. Denne trend opfølges af designere, og ender slutteligt i de kommercielle kredse. Beviset for denne teori findes i www.k10k.dk (som nu er taget off-line), som gennem de sidste 2 år har defineret kommende trends. Først var det det minimalistiske, widescreendesign i år 2000, og i år 2001 er det retro i c64 stil (bit æstetik). Denne trend vil kunne spores i designkredse, som www.coolstop.com , www.coolhomepages.com (i mindre grad, på grund af deres meget store lister) og naturligvis www.k10k.dk. Trenden dækker imidlertid over et dybere æstetisk paradigme. Et teknologiparadigme som fokuserer på grænserne i mediet, og overskridelsen af disse.

Quark, The (2002). (Danish) Design>Web Design>User Interface


Productivity and Multi-Screen Computer Displays   (PDF)

One hundred eight university and non university personnel participated in a comparison of single monitor, multi-monitor and multi-monitor with Hydravision display configurations. Respondents edited slide shows, spreadsheets and text documents in a simulation of office work, using each of the display arrays. Performance measures, including task time, editing time, number of edits completed, and number of errors made and usability measures evaluating effectiveness, comfort, learning ease, time to productivity, quickness of recovery from mistakes, ease of task tracking, ability to maintain task focus and ease of movement among sources were combined into an overall evaluation of productivity. Multi-screens scored significantly higher on every measure.

Colvin, Janet, Nancy Tobler and James A. Anderson. Rocky Mountain Communication Review (2004). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Productivity and Screen Size

A study of the benefits of big monitors fails on two accounts: it didn't test realistic tasks, and it didn't test realistic use. Productivity is a key argument for workplace usability, but you must measure it carefully.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2006). Articles>User Interface>Usability


Prototyping Animation with Keynote

Keynote has been spoken about in the past as a great tool for creating wireframes and prototypes, but not much for animation. I love Keynote because it’s fast, free, easy to learn, and it works. Recently Andrew Haskin of Frog Design recreated Google’s Material Design Video in Keynote. I was impressed with his ability to recreate complex animations in what seemed like a very simple program. Using his Keynote file as a guideline, I dug in to the mechanics and mastered animating in Keynote in roughly an hour.

Cohen, Andrew. Thoughtbot (2015). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Apple Keynote


Prototyping Beyond the Sunshine Scenario

Prototypes often model one flow of interaction--the path that users are most likely to take. But when we create interaction designs with dynamic and complex flows, we often need to include deviations from the sunshine scenarios to see whether they work. In this article, we'll look at how to do this Visio and Axure.

Olsen, Henrik. GUUUI (2006). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Methods


Pull-Down Menus: Out of Sight, Out of Mind   (PDF)

This article focuses on a particularly wily cryptodesign foe: pull-down menus. Recall our definition of the developer’s eternal foe: cryptodesign. These are decisions that worked for certain situations, but are often misapplied in different, inappropriate situations. Pulldowns are the “guerilla” combatants of GUI design – so named because at one glance they look like good-guy civilians, but in another moment, they’ve wreaked havoc on ease-of-use. Let’s explore how to neutralize these design sapper bombers.

Schaffer, Eric M. Human Factors International (1995). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Putting the Wrecking Ball to the User Interface (UI)

Does a truly intuitive user interface exist? The author of this blog post doesn't think so. To create one, designers and developers really need to put the wrecking ball to the UI as it is now.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>User Interface>TC>User Centered Design


Review: Quality Technical Information: Paving the Way for Usable Print and Web Interface Design   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Principles of information style and design have been around for years. Look at the shelf life of Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style, published in 1959 and still a bestseller. Producing Quality Technical Information is a gem of a book, whose precise, bullet-style list of seven requirements and a checklist is now even more insightful in the fast-paced world of online information and the World-Wide Web. As a writer, I'm amazed how the IBM authors crystallized the essence of good information design in less than 100 pages. This commentary describes how the book's seven qualities and thirty individual requirements can easily and usefully be extrapolated to address key issues of interface design and usability for today's professional designers and developers.

Mandel, Theo. Journal of Computer Documentation (2002). Articles>Reviews>User Interface>Usability


Lo Que Dice la Red

Elaborar información procedente de la red y presentarla en forma gráfica es lo que se propone 'dicelared', una interesante iniciativa en español.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Design>Web Design>User Interface


A Question of Interface Design: How Do Online Service GUIs Measure Up?

Online services have redesigned their old command-based software into graphical user interfaces for the same reason that fledgling stars get their noses fixed. GUIs, as these software versions are commonly called, are a natural choice of interface because they are user-friendly, colorful, window-based interfaces that rely on icons and natural language processing.

Head, Alison J. InfoToday (1997). Design>User Interface>Usability


Quickly Coming Up With Text for Error Messages and UI Labels

Sometimes, you need to quickly come up with new or alternative text for error messages and user interface label. One of the easiest ways to do this is for a technical communicator to brainstorm ideas solo It’s a very effective technique, and can usually produce something that’s better than just usable very quickly.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>Documentation>User Interface



Macintosh-style interaction design has reached its limits. A new paradigm, called results-oriented UI, might well be the way to empower users in the future.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


Reality Check

Many would-be e-businesses, seduced by the lure of the emerging 'virtual-world' on the web, have ignored 40 years of accumulated wisdom in how to design usable information systems, and have seemingly forgotten that a satisfying 'user experience' is key to the successful implementation of any information system.

Macefield, Ritchie. UIdesign (2004). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Usability


Reconciling Information-Seeking Behavior with Search User Interfaces for the Web   (Word)

Current search interfaces reflect the inner workings of search technology rather than what we know about how people look for information.

Rose, Daniel E. Earthlink (2002). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Search


The Red Queen Color Theory

The search for compelling color is a struggle. As in fashion, success at one time and place is no help at any other.

Stein, Bob. Digital Web Magazine (2001). Design>Graphic Design>User Interface>Color


Reduce Redundancy: Decrease Duplicated Design Decisions

User interface complexity increases when a single feature or hypertext link is presented in multiple ways. Users rarely understand duplicates as such, and often waste time repeating efforts or visiting the same page twice by mistake.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Design>User Interface>Collaboration


Refreshable Braille and the Web

Many people have not had the opportunity to see someone use a refreshable Braille device to access the web. I recently videoed Bruce Maguire describing how he uses the Internet with a refreshable Braille display. He also demonstrates finding a book on the Amazon site. Transcript of the video is at the end of this document.

Hudson, Roger. DingoAccess (2009). Articles>Accessibility>User Interface>Podcasts


Remote Control Anarchy

The six remote controls required for a simple home theater illustrate the problems caused by complexity and inconsistency in user interfaces.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2004). Design>User Interface>Usability



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