A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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Replay TV

You've all heard of TiVo. Sure you have. TiVo is the hard-disk video recorder that automatically records all of your favorite shows. Then there's ReplayTV, the other leading brand. Late fall 2001, ReplayTV crossed over a line that should never have been crossed, one that threatened the future of consumer products.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2002). Articles>User Interface>Ethics>Assessment


Research-Based Guidelines For Visual Interface Design   (PDF)

Whether it is for a help system, a multimedia training product, or a software application, there are two key elements needed for good screen design: knowledge of the applicable research, and the ability to balance aesthetic appeal with functionality. This paper focuses on research into the specific human factors that affect how users interact with the visual display of information, and provides guidelines for how to apply the research results. The author adds information from his own interface design and usability testing experiences at Microsoft.

Prekeges, James G. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>User Interface>Multimedia>Visual Rhetoric


Reusing the User Experience

As a rule of thumb, the earlier in the development process reuse can occur, the more efficient reuse becomes. Like software component reuse, the reuse of UX design elements can be a very efficient form of reuse—particularly because this form of reuse occurs very early in the product development cycle. The ability to reuse prior work effectively is one characteristic of a mature discipline.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Project Management>User Interface>Planning


Review: Review of Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction

What this book provides is the foundation for the incredibly broad spectrum of User Interface Design. It focuses more on the what and the why, using a rich collection of insights, observations, experiences, and advice. All of this is backed up by research in all matters of user analysis and interface design. Each chapter contains references to this research, as well as references to the most complete list of User Interface Design knowledge I have ever seen.

Strohmeyer, Bob. Usability Interface (2009). Articles>Reviews>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Review: A Review of the Balsamiq Mockups wireframing application

This is a review for Balsamiq Mockups. This is a reasonably-priced application for creating wireframes that is easy to learn and use suitable for smaller projects. Creating interactive prototypes out of Balsamiq wireframes is now possible with the release of another application called Napkee. This review talks talks about: Balsamiq Mockup specifications; Balsamiq’s distinct visual character and how it work both in favor and against Balsamiq being adopted by users; Pros and cons of the application; and a conclusion with a recommendation on who should use and what to use Balsamiq Mockups for.

Rautela, Abhay. Cone Trees (2009). Articles>Reviews>Software>User Interface


Reviewing User Interfaces

While user interface (UI) reviews often occur at the end of the development cycle, I recommend that you get involved early in the process, preferably when the designers create the initial wireframes or paper prototypes. Why? Making changes early in the process reduces development costs. Plus, if you identify usability issues early, it’s much more likely the team can remedy them before launch, preventing bad reviews.

Bracey, Rhonda. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Interface>Assessment


The Road to XAML

XAML stands for eXtensible Application Markup Language and was created by Microsoft. It is currently the primary mechanism for declaratively creating the user interface in a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) application. WPF is part of the .NET 3.0 framework. Why discuss these very technical things in a design blog post? The answer is simple: because XAML is designed for designers. It has other uses of course, but one of its main tenets is that XAML enables the separation of UI and logic (code). That is a very powerful concept! In this and future posts, I will explain how a few of us at Autodesk are using XAML in our design process as a way to enable design refinement during the Development phase.

Stein, Matt. Designing the User Experience at Autodesk (2009). Articles>User Interface>Programming>XML


The Role and Evolution of Design in Software Products

Design professionals often decry the lack of importance and investment their companies place on design. After all, most software projects revolve around a product's engineering, to the ongoing detriment of its design--not to mention the chagrin of so many designers, who wriggle uncomfortably toward the bottom of the food chain. But there is a good reason for this: products can be very profitable without investing a single penny in interface design--at least, beyond the user interfaces the engineers build. Indeed, at least in the early stages of a market or company, resources dedicated to intentional interface design are often a bonus rather than being viewed as a necessity.

Knemeyer, Dirk. UXmatters (2006). Design>User Interface>Programming


The Role of Project Managers in Interface Design

This describes the role that I played as program manager for IE5.0, and the basic process we used. It's a good anecdote as to how one team managed the cross discipline work of design and usability, with the engineering and development process.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (1999). Design>Project Management>User Interface


Safety Symbols for Hazard Alerts

The library offers warning symbols, prohibiting symbols, mandatory action symbols and other signs to be used in technical documentation.

Ratz, Günter. CPTec GmbH (2004). Design>User Interface>Technical Illustration


Salpicaderos Digitales

Los salpicaderos digitales (digital dashboards) mejor conocidos como cuadros de mando digitales son una herramienta de visualización en tiempo real de los indicadores críticos de negocio que ayudan a la toma de decisiones empresariales. Su uso se extiende y avanza desde la élite ejecutiva hacia la ubicuidad.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2004). (Spanish) Articles>User Interface>Management


The Sanctity of Elements, or Why You Shouldn't Be Double-Clicking in a TEXTAREA

All-too-frequently an external client or an internal manager or co-worker demands interface changes. They usurp the design process -- taking the decision-making away from the experts -- and deign the interface by dictum rather than traditional development processes, to the detriment of the product.

Hourihan, Meg. O'Reilly and Associates (2002). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Usability


Search Goal Redefinition Through User-System Interaction   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The purpose of this research is to examine search goal redefinition during users' interaction with information retrieval systems.

Hider, Philip M. Journal of Documentation (2007). Articles>Web Design>Search>User Interface


Seductive User Interfaces

Traditionally, human-factors specialists have had a rather severe attitude toward human performance with computers: their goal was maximum throughput, often measured in transactions per minute. This attitude was justified when computers were mainly work-related; in some cases it still proves wise. For example, a usability improvement that shaves one second off the time it takes a directory-assistance operator to search a database for a telephone number saves several million dollars per year in the U.S. alone. This performance-obsessed approach to usability led many early user interface experts to condemn the popular term 'user friendly' with the argument that users didn't need "friendly" computers, they needed efficient designs that let them complete their tasks faster.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1996). Articles>User Interface>Usability


Seeing the World in Symbols: Icons and the Evolving Language of Digital Wayfinding

Of all the objects that occupy our digital spaces, there are none that capture the imagination so much as icons. As symbols, icons can communicate powerfully, be delightful, add to the aesthetic value of software, engage people's curiosity and playfulness, and encourage experimentation. These symbols are key components of a graphic user interface--mediators between our thoughts and actions, our intentions and accomplishments.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2006). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Graphic Design


Selection-Dependent Inputs

Successful Web applications tend to grow--both in terms of capability and complexity. And this increasing complexity is often passed on to and absorbed by a Web application's forms. In addition to needing more input fields, labels, and Help text, forms with a growing number of options may also require selection-dependent inputs.

Wroblewski, Luke. UXmatters (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Forms


Seven Interface Design Techniques to Simplify and De-Clutter Your Interfaces

What is simplicity? Simplicity is the quality of being natural, plain and easy to understand. It is not surprising then that simplicity is often thrived for in user interface design. Most people naturally dislike complexity in devices and software. Yes, some people find joy in figuring out how something works, but for most of us, being unable to operate a device leads to wasted time and frustration, and that’s not a good thing. If you can take a complex device or a piece of software and somehow rearrange, reorganize and redesign the interface to make it easy to use and understand, then you’re well on the way to delivering a better user experience. In this article I’m going to talk about 7 practical techniques that you can utilize in web design to make your websites or web applications simpler and less cluttered.

Webdesigner Depot (2009). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Minimalism


Shortening the Cycle

How do we reduce time and costs and still achieve good results? Thirteen usability professionals joined forces in a workshop to develop answers to this question. The results are presented here in two parts: Four lists of recommendations in areas developed from specific issues. An inventory of techniques that have worked for the workshop participants in the past

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


Simplicity Is Highly Overrated

I am in favor of good design and attractive products. Easy to use products. But when it comes time to purchase, people tend to go for the more powerful products, and they judge the power by the apparent complexity of the controls. If that is what people use as a purchasing choice, we must provide it for them. While making the actual complexity low, the real simplicity high. That's an exciting design challenge: make it look powerful while also making it easy to use. And attractive. And affordable. And functional. And environmentally appropriate. Accessible to all. That's why I like design: it presents wonderful challenges.

Norman, Donald A. uiGarden (2007). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design>Minimalism


Simplicity: The Distribution of Complexity

Achieving simplicity is not that simple when you are dealing with complex modern device design. Rob Tannen mused on lazy shortcuts, artificial constraints and Maeda's crusade on the complex.

Tannen, Rob. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>User Interface>Theory>Minimalism


Simulating Hardware

Software products are easy to demonstrate to clients – the products can be carried around or accessed electronically. But what about hardware products? My product is a security panel for homes. It is a physical product that is difficult to carry around and show to prospective clients. My idea was turning this piece of hardware into a software simulation that would help users get a feel of the product, albeit electronically.

Virupaksha, K.M. Indus (2009). Articles>User Interface>Online>3D


Sistemas Multimodales

La interfaz entre humanos y computadoras adolece todavía de muchas deficiencias. Los sistemas multimodales, que utilizan elementos multibiométricos, interfaces multimodales y sistemas multisensoriales están empezando a paliar muchas de ellas.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2004). (Spanish) Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface


Small Multiples Within a User Interface

Many software programs provide access to, and let users work with, large amounts of information. In addition to interactions that allow users to create, edit, and expand massive data sets, these information-rich applications must also support effective data interpretation. Data monitoring, reporting, and modeling applications require people to makes sense of large amounts of information quickly and easily. It should come as no surprise, then, that for such applications many interface design problems are actually information design problems. As a result, we can leverage information design solutions when tackling such problems. Using small multiples is one such solution.

Wroblewski, Luke. UXmatters (2005). Design>User Interface


The Small Print: Writing User Interface Instructions

Experts say that a person’s behavior on the web is highly goal-driven. People have things they want to accomplish, whether it’s making a purchase, finding a recipe or learning how to do something new. Inherent in many web page designs, therefore, is information to help a user perform an action. For example, if you design a button that must be clicked to reach a desired goal, such as placing an item in a shopping cart, then shadowing the button so it appears to be raised will help your audience understand that the shape is a clickable object. In addition to these types of visual cues, we often write instructions to assist users in knowing what to do next. These instructions guide the eyes and minds of the individual to look at the appropriate place and to take the appropriate action.

Understanding Graphics. Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>User Interface


Software Features and Changes Needed for Better Viewing

With Netscape, when you first load this page, none of the following links are marked as 'already seen'. IE is very bad on this point: when you load this page, all the links below (internal page A NAME links) are marked as 'already seen'. That is, Netscape tracks internal page jumps; IE doesn't recognize them; in its history tracking, it lumps together all the links for a page as being identical with the overall page as a destination. This is a great example of a basic feature that is very much needed.

Hoffman, Michael. Hypertext Navigation. Design>Web Design>User Interface>Web Browsers



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