A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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Think Outside the Computer: Touchscreens, HTML5, and Flash

Touchscreens are here to stay. Computers as we know them are gone already. Really. It’s time to fast-track the planning for delivering docs and content to these types of devices. I think that docs and e-Learning materials may not be able to switch to that format easily. Sure, you can open a website and docs and navigate through them on a touchscreen. But can you run a Flash-based tutorial on one? Given articles I’ve been reading, I’m not sure that’s the case. Do your docs rely much on mouse activity and clicking? If so, they may not work on touchscreens. I think that this is a major issue that tech writers and eLearning specialists need to address. Some thoughts, suggestions, and references follow.

Norris, Julie. 2moro Docs (2010). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>HTML5


Thirty Years With Computers

It's worth remembering the downsides to centralized computing. We must take steps to keep users in control as we grow the power of the network. It's essential that we keep a strong front end to balance out improved back-end features.

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


This Is Broken: A Compilation of Bad Experiences

If you know a user experience that irritates you, don't just site there and grouse about it. Send it in to ThisIsBroken.com, a compilation of bad experiences: products, services, places, and Web designs that don't put the user first.

Hurst, Mark. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Articles>Usability>User Interface


Time Travel Design

New technologies will introduce as many problems as they solve unless they are focused with good design.

Greenwood, Wayne. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>User Interface


Tools and Programming Languages for Creating Interactive Prototypes

This the first in a series of articles exploring the ways practioners go about making effective prototypes. This article presents just one method - the use of HTML and JavaScript. Amanda has posted requests on several usability lists requesting information about different approaches, and would be keen to hear how you do it.

Nance, Amanda. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Top 10 Decisions That Reduce Usability

Did you ever wonder why some products are well designed and easy to use and others are not? The answer is simple—decision makers and budget holders make decisions with little thought of how they reduce usability. Here then are the top ten decisions that reduce usability.

Dick, David J. Usability Interface (2004). Design>Usability>User Interface


Top Ten Nine Reasons the Apple Dock Still Sucks

Apple Sales is apparently in love with the Dock. You can't go into an Apple store without seeing it splayed across the bottom of the screen, in the very configuration least conducive to computing on a Macintosh. Why? Because it's sexy and it sells. Unfortunately, as a productivity device, it just doesn't work.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>User Interface>Operating Systems>Macintosh


Top-10 Application-Design Mistakes

Application usability is enhanced when users know how to operate the UI and it guides them through the workflow. Violating common guidelines prevents both.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Top-Ten Information Architecture (IA) Mistakes

Structure and navigation must support each other and integrate with search and across subsites. Complexity, inconsistency, hidden options, and clumsy UI mechanics prevent users from finding what they need.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>User Interface


Touch Gesture Reference Guide

The Touch Gesture Reference Guide is a unique set of resources for software designers and developers working on touch-based user interfaces. The guide contains: 1) an overview of the core gestures used for most touch commands 2) how to utilize these gestures to support major user actions 3) visual representations of each gesture to use in design documentation and deliverables 4) an outline of how popular software platforms support core touch gestures.

Wroblewski, Luke. LukeW Interface Designs (2011). Reference>User Interface


Touchscreen Usability

Touchscreen devices can only work well if both hardware and software are uniquely optimized for touch interaction. Simply adding touch interaction to an existing device will make the user experience worse instead of better.

ignore the code (2009). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


Toward a More Human Interface Device: Integrating the Virtual and Physical

As UX professionals, we often take for granted the fact that our users will be dealing with a keyboard, mouse or track pad, and monitor. We think about users’ physical relationship with their digital devices very selectively, if at all. But, as we explore new human interface devices and incorporate new interactions into our designs, we have the opportunity to create deep connections between users and their technology.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2008). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


Towards a General Relation Browser: A GUI for Information Architects   (peer-reviewed)

The paper presents the case of ongoing efforts to develop and test generalizable user interfaces that provide interactive overviews for large-scale Web sites, portals, and other partitions of Web space. The interfaces are called Relation Browsers (RB) because they help people explore the relationships across different attribute sets, thus enabling understanding the scope and extent of the corpus through active exploration of different 'slices' defined by different attribute value juxtapositions. The RB concept is illustrated through discussion of six iterations over a five year period that included laboratory usability studies, a field test, and implementations with a variety of data management problems. The current application to design concepts in a digital government setting is discussed, and the concept of the RB as the basis for an interface server is presented.

Marchionini, Gary and Ben Brunk. Journal of Digital Information (2003). Design>User Interface>Information Design


TradeOff Cube: A Graphical User Interface Device

Decision support systems for multicriteria problems aim to help users understand the tradeoffs between their priorities (i.e., criteria weights) and their impact on the leading alternatives. Assignment of weights in existing systems requires multiple interface screens, so does analysis of the relationship between criteria weights and outcomes. A single-screen user interface device is proposed - a tradeoff cube - for declaration and viewing of all criteria weights - even if the hierarchy is multi-level and for examining the relationships between criteria weights and performance of alternatives. The tradeoff cube displays the entire hierarchy in a single base square subdivided into rectangles, each of which corresponds to a criterion. Criteria weights are adjusted by modifying the area of the rectangle. Valuations of alternatives are dynamically displayed in an adjacent stack bar chart, where stacks represent the lowest level criteria nodes. The dynamic interactive fluid process dramatically speeds up visualiz

Kirshner, Michael. EServer (2001). Design>User Interface>Visual>Visual Rhetoric


Transforming Taiwan Aboriginal Cultural Features into Modern Product Design: A Case Study of a Cross-Cultural Product Design Model

With their beautiful and primitive visual arts and crafts, Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures offer great potential for enhancing design value and becoming recognized in the global market. Evidence shows very high prospects for Taiwan’s local cultures to become crucial cultural elements in future design applications. The purpose of this paper is to explore the meaning of cultural objects from Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures and to extract their cultural features. The paper attempts to illustrate how, by enhancing the original meaning and images of these cultural features and by taking advantage of new production technologies, they can be transformed into modern products that meet the needs of the contemporary consumer market.

Lin, Rung-Tai. uiGarden (2008). Articles>User Interface>International


Transmedia Design for 3 Screens - Make That 5

Mobile use will rise, but desktop computers will remain important, forcing companies to design for multiple platforms, requiring continuity in visual design, features, user data, and tone of voice.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2011). Articles>Web Design>User Interface


Treating User Myopia

Fortunately, you don't see dialogs in web apps much, but this sort of modal dialog lunacy is, sadly, becoming more popular in today's AJAX-y world of web 2.5. Those who can't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I guess.

Atwood, Jeff. Coding Horror (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Usability


TreeDec: an Annotation Tool to Support Website Navigation   (peer-reviewed)

Websites are often organized into logical hierarchies, or tree structures, in order to help users navigate. Ideally, users could view the entire tree, or jump to nearby pages. TreeDec (= Tree Decorator) is a system to support website authors and maintainers by providing automatic annotation of webpages under the control of a central file that represents the tree structure.

Cugini, John. NIST (2000). Design>User Interface>Information Design>Web Design


Trends Toward Greater Usability in Voting Technology

UPA's Voting and Usability project is tracking several important trends toward greater usability in voting technology across the globe: Verified voting, The NIST Voting Symposium, FEC Brochures, Voting Developments in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.

Scott, Josephine. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Civic


Typography and the User Interface

While processing speed and computational flexibility have grown at incredible rates, our displays, the most human-facing elements of our digital lives, lag behind.

Kuo, Daniel. Cooper Journal (2005). Articles>User Interface>Typography


UI and Us

UI and us is a place for discussing and questioning the computer software and hardware UI’s and experiences that we take for granted. The good, the bad and the ugly as well as some history and some news.

Lang, Keith. UI and Us. Resources>User Interface>Usability>Blogs


UI Design

A web magazine for interaction designers.

UIdesign. Journals>User Interface>Interaction Design


UI Design Cuts McAfee's Support Calls by 90%

When McAfee launched it's new ProtectionPilot software in the summer of 2004, the number of support calls they received was drastically less than expected and what is typical of a software launch. The article on softwareceo.com presents 23 tips attributed to McAfee's success with the ProtectionPilot launch.

IxDA Resource Library (2005). Design>User Interface>Case Studies


UI Design with Java and XML Toolkits

XML has revolutionized application UI design in recent years. With a cunning blend of XML and script languages such as JavaScript, rich, aesthetically pleasing applications can be quickly constructed with ease. We've looked at Widgets and XUL as two examples of this in the past and now, I'm going to take a look at some of the innovative Java UI toolkits that implement XML as an integral mechanism for application II design. Please note, this is the first part of a two-part article.

Wellman, Dan. Dev Articles (2006). Design>User Interface>Programming>XML



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