A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

User Interface

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User Interface Pattern Documentation Review

User interface (UI) patterns have the potential to make software development more efficient. The prospect of such efficiency gains has led to interest in user interface (UI) patterns by individuals and organizations looking for ways to increase quality while at the same time reducing the costs associated with software development.

Stapleton, Patrick. Boxes and Arrows (2009). Articles>User Interface>Documentation>Functional Specifications


User Interface Should Be a Team Effort

Let's say you've got a clear set of requirements; the users have been defined, the features are associated with user tasks, marketing has done a competitive analysis and everything is good to go. Now what?

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Interface>Collaboration


User Interface That Kills: Swords, Craft, and User Interfaces

The greatest challenge in web or software design is creating a work of deep craft. That is, the presence of the designers and programmers coming through to make the user feel as though you were really trying to make them happy. For many products, I can point to specific parts that in isolation made me feel that way, but it's rarely carried through consistently. Web sites always have rough edges: search results pages that are ugly and hard to read, error pages that are incomprehensible, JavaScript pop-up menus that appear and disappear awkwardly, with visible repainting and redrawing, home pages to well-known Web sites that are garish, cluttered, and cold.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2000). Design>User Interface>Web Design


A User-Centered Drowsy-Driver Detection and Warning System   (PDF)

This work is a culmination of years of research to develop an effective in-vehicle countermeasure to drowsy driving. Previous work resulted in an independently validated measure of drowsiness that was then incorporated into a drowsy-driver prototype monitor. The goal of this project was to develop an associated drowsy-driver interface that enabled effective, user-centered interactions with the underlying system. A multidisciplinary team designed a new drowsy-driver interface and introduced smart user interactions through a careful participatory design process that included both design experts and commercial motor vehicle drivers. It is hoped that this effort and subsequent field trials will result in a reliable, smart system that convinces drivers that they are driving in an unsafe condition and to make a wise choice--stop and rest.

Ayoob, Ellen M., Richard Grace and Aaron Steinfeld. AIGA (2003). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Uses for Virtual Reality in the Workplace and Classroom   (PDF)

Virtual reality and game technology can be used in the technical communication classrooms and the workplace as well as the laboratory. Because our communication into the 21st century will take many "technical" forms, the technology, creativity, degree of interaction, and multimedia designs of virtual reality simulations should become part of our communication technology in the 1990s. Although hypertext, hypermedia, computer-aided design (CAD), and multimedia, multisensory training applications are becoming more common in the workplace, the concept of virtual reality has seldom been translated into practical applications that require business and technical communicators to have special skills. As well, advances in holographic information create exciting new educational designs for the future.

Porter, Lynnette R. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>User Interface>3D


Using Verbs As Nouns in User Interfaces

To better manage interactions with such large datasets, we’ve incorporated the concept of views, in the same way that Microsoft Outlook and SQL Builder use them. However, my initial usability testing has found that the concept of views is escaping most people, and I think it often boils down to the term itself. Even if I show users what the software does—and they pretty much always like it when they see it—they still often cannot get over the initial hurdle of the naming convention.

Six, Janet M. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Experience>Diction>User Interface


Using Wikis to Document UI Specifications

As Agile gains momentum as a development approach of choice, documenting design becomes a challenge. Peter Gremett shows how using a wiki to capture your design is a great way to be adaptive as you build and deliver product to customers.

Gremett, Peter. Boxes and Arrows (2009). Articles>User Interface>Agile>Wikis


UX Design Versus UI Development

One of the more interesting tensions I have observed—since getting into user experience design about five years ago—is the almost sibling-rivalry tension between UX Designers and User Interface (UI) Developers. At the heart of the tension between them is the fact that most UI Developers consider themselves—and sometimes rightfully so—to be UI Designers. The coding part is like Picasso’s having to understand how to mix paint. It’s not the value they add, just the mechanics of delivering the creative concepts.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience>User Interface


UX Design vs UI Development

One of the more interesting tensions I have observed since getting into User Experience (UX) design about five years ago is the almost sibling-rivalry-like tension between UX designers and User Interface (UI) developers. At the heart of the tension is that most UI developers consider themselves (rightfully so) to be UI designers. The coding part is like Picasso having to understand how to mix paint; it's not the value-add, just the mechanics of delivering the creative concepts.

Hughes, Michael A. Humane Experience, The (2010). Articles>User Experience>User Interface



A forum for the discussion of progressive ideas about important issues relating to user experience.

UXmatters (2006). Journals>User Interface>User Experience


Validating the Out-of-the-Box Experience: A Case Study   (PDF)

This paper describes how the User Centered Design team investigated customers’ out-of-the-box needs and validated the design of the out-of-the-box elements described in the previous paper “Designing the OOBE: A Case Study” by Lee Anne Kowalski in these Proceedings.

Kopp, Eileen F. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>User Interface>Usability


Video Game Accessibility

I normally focus on web site accessibility, but after one of my favorite video games of 2009 recently won an award for its consideration to disabled players, it got me thinking about the subject.

Art of Web Accessibility, The (2010). Articles>Accessibility>User Interface>Games


Visio: The Interaction Designer's Nail Gun

How to use Visio for rapid prototyping - now with scrolling pages and sketchy interface widgets.

Olsen, Henrik. Guuui (2008). Articles>User Interface>Software>Visio


Visualización Ambiental

La visualización ambiental de información consiste en la recepción de información proveniente de objetos de nuestro entorno que cambian sus propiedades, color, olor, presión táctil, en función del estado de la información que monitorizan. Se abre un campo potencialmente importante para ellos.

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


Visualización Espacialmente Consciente

Las pantallas de los ordenadores son como una ventana al ciberespacio, a menudo demasiado pequeñas y limitadas. Los dispositivos capaces de localizarse en el espacio personal del usuario ofrecen una ventana a espacios virtuales 3D en el que la combinación de movimiento e interacción abre nuevas posibilidades de visualización.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Design>User Interface>Operating Systems>PDA


Voting and Usability Project Update

It's been two-and-a-half years since we started the Voting and Usability Project. This project started as we all realized with some horror that usability problems in our voting systems could affect the results of an election--effectively disenfranching some voters through the design of the ballot, as Susan King Roth put it in the report on her research. Since then, our interest has expanded into a more general interest in the usability of voting systems and usability professionals can help make voting systems more usable for everyone.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Professionals Association (2003). Articles>Usability>User Interface>Civic


Waking Up to Good Design

Why an awareness of good design has increased at such a dramatic rate in recent months.

Zambito, Tony. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>User Interface>Assessment


The Way Of User Interface Design   (PDF)

Good user interface design requires a marriage of technical communication, human factors, graphic design, and cognitive psychology. A good user interface designer (or visual designer) is a combination of writer and artist, therapist and engineer. But, one of the central skills in this fields is communication. The user interface is communication—it is the primary link between the person using the product and the actual code making the screens move and respond.

Towey, Ingrid K. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>User Interface>TC


We Are All Designers   (PDF)

We are all designers -- because we must be. We live our lives, encounter success and failure, sadness and joy. We structure own worlds to support ourselves throughout life.

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


Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous

AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated content often add more complexity than they're worth. They also divert design resources and prove (once again) that what's hyped is rarely what's most profitable.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Ajax


Web Interface Design: Learning from our Past

The advent of World Wide Web authoring has led to a plethora of graphics rich web pages. But where's the beef? In addition to placing marketing information on a company's home page the strength of the web lies in its flexibility to link to corporate databases and processes running on a variety of machines, both web and non-web servers. Tasks such as, creating transaction systems for commerce, creating graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for legacy systems, and doing queries against corporate databases require the web designer to take into account more than HTML code and imagemaps. The heritage of interactive design for network-based solutions has helped interface designers understand how to apply their craft to create effective World Wide Web solutions.

Miller, Richard H. Rutgers University. Design>Web Design>User Interface


Well-Designed Products

To offset this sometimes irritating tendency to critique and redesign everything we see, I'd like to offer a selection of software that I consider to be truly well-designed. To avoid creating a list that is simply an expression of my personal taste (which of course it is, to some extent), I devised some criteria as necessary aspects of a well-designed software product.

Cronin, Dave. Cooper Interaction Design (2004). Design>Usability>User Interface


What Causes Usability Problems

With so much good advice available, and the need for user input being so much a matter of common sense, it seems fair to ask why usability issues are so common amongst websites and applications - even those which have invested significant resources in development. What is it that drives otherwise sensible organisations and businesses to build products and services that are counter-intuitive and actively annoying for many users? The answers to these questions are revealing, in the sense that they illustrate how easily usability can be subverted by alternative agendas. And they highlight the need for a user champion within the organisation, an individual outside any internal interest groups, and potentially the company itself, who acts as a corrective to the forces that can leave usability on the back burner. This list is not one of objections (no time, no money, etc.), most of which are spurious, but rather of explanations for apparently baffling decisions that are often taken without even thinking about the consequences.

Farrell, Tom. Frontend Infocentre (2000). Articles>Usability>User Interface


What Makes a Good Mobile Interface?

While the perfect mobile user interface is beast that doesn't exist, there are good interfaces that work around any issues there are with the displays on mobile devices.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>User Interface>Mobile>Mobile


What We Can Learn from Microsoft Mojave

A pretty interface doesn’t make an application or website. Even the early releases of Microsoft Vista looked amazing. The graphics, interface, and 'look' of the system were much more impressive than XP. But looks alone don’t make the package. It lacked in usability, creating error messages and not having a standard navigation schema. Users didn’t know if they were to click a button, an image, or text to complete their task. It is important to create a standardized and intuitive interface, as well as nice looking, so that users can navigate your site or application.

Robbins, Kyle. ReEncoded (2008). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Microsoft Windows



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