Frequently, error messages are totally uninformative -- or, worse, just plain wrong. Here, we look at how meaningful error messages can make it easier for users to correct problems without having to rely on technical support, and how poorly chosen messages can turn users into ex-users.
In user experience design, there is a growing emphasis on starting projects by creating robust descriptions of the prospective users. Through contextual inquiry and persona development we gain insight into people’s needs; ascertain their desires; and illuminate their behavior, wishes, hopes and dreams. But in an attempt to create archetypal descriptions of people, the specificity of the environments people inhabit are often times diminished—research is conducted across broad cross-sections of markets to ensure that common experiences are identified and explored.
The common wisdom is that we now live in the age of information; the freedom and access we have to data is unprecedented in history; and the efficiency and convenience of online commerce, research, and communication has already transformed our lives for the better. While this is true, of course, our excitement should be tempered by a few realizations.
This article explains how to create coloured hyperlinks in an index in a PDF file, using Microsoft Word as the source document for the PDF file. Many authors create PDF files using Word as the source document. Most Word-to-PDF converters create a hyperlink in the PDF file if a hyperlink exists in the Word document. Unfortunately, Word does not create hyperlinked cross-references in an index, so no PDF creation tool can directly generate a hyperlinked index. The Sonar Bookends Activate plug-in for Acrobat creates hyperlinks for page numbers in indexes in PDF files. The plug-in does not change the colour of new hyperlinks, and it does not create visible rectangles for the hyperlinks. This article explains how to colour the hyperlinks in the Word source document using macro.
This article is for developers and content editors seeking to supplement the visual elements of a user interface with text equivalents. This article describes what text equivalents are, why they are required, how to create them, and the best approach to writing and editing them.
The whole may be more than the sum of its parts, but without the parts, there is no whole. Lest that sound like some weird philosophical meandering to you, take comfort in observing the finer aspects of creative and appealing user interface design.
At the heart of design and engineering is critical thinking. The ability to separate what is worthwhile from what isn't is the hallmark of the best in many fields, from film directors to project managers, programmers to designers.
Many software applications marketed outside the country of origin are internationalised and/or localised. In this article, I propose a strategy to localise the software by creating a Cultural User Interface (CUI) for each of the target cultures. A CUI is a user interface that is intuitive to a particular culture.
Deception is entwined with life on this planet. Insects deceive, animals deceive, and of course, we human beings use deception to manipulate, control, and profit from each other. It’s no surprise, then, that deception appears in web user interfaces; what is surprising is how little we talk about it. All the guidelines, principles, and methods ethical designers employ to design usable websites can be subverted to benefit business owners at the expense of users. Study the dark side so you can take a stand against unethical web design practices and banish them from your work.
Are there any downsides of prototyping? Not really. But as with everything else in life, you might stumble and hurt yourself if you don’t watch your step. This article points out some of the banana skins to steer clear of.
The explosion of information that analysts and executives must consume, as well as the increasing variety of sources from which that information comes, has boosted the popularity of information dashboards. Modeled after the dashboard of a car or airplane—which informs its operator about the status and operation of the vehicle they’re controlling at a glance—dashboard user interfaces provide a great deal of useful information to users at a glance. Typically, the role of an information dashboard is to quickly inform users and, thus, enable them to take immediate action.
The file system has been a trusted part of most computers for many years, and will likely continue as such in operating systems for many more. However, several emerging trends in user interfaces indicate that the basic file-system model is inadequate to fully satisfy the needs of new users, despite the flexibility of the underlying code and data structures.
The software development industry is relatively young, rapidly evolving, and surprisingly little is automated. It is therefore an intensely human and social endeavor, having all the phenomena characteristic of any cultural activity -- communication issues, organizational issues, customs, values, fashions, and myths. It brings out the best and the worst in people. Personalities determine much of what happens. It is more like making movies than engineering cars. Software development would benefit greatly from extensive study by sociologists, anthropologists, and clinical psychologists. As we await such analyses, let's document some beliefs embedded in the culture of software development, specifically about user interface design. This article identifies a series of cultural myths and presents realistic conclusions from my extensive experience in user interface design.
The screen may be flat, but the illusion of depth grows stronger. With Apple’s new operating system, OS X, the evolutionary trend of the user interface becomes clear. Starting as flat, monochromatic symbols, the Mac’s icons have become progressively more naturalistic, and the suggestion of depth created by layers of overlapping windows has been enhanced, first by the Classic bas-relief shading on the window frames, and now, with Aqua, the OS X interface, by the addition of feathered drop shadows cast by the windows.
Most businesses have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of information employees require to perform tasks. Traditional approaches to training such as paper documentation, instructor-led training, or computer-based training (CBT) may have been effective in the past, but are not suitable to respond to the rapid changes in time, cost, and delivery of information today’s marketplace requires. At Unisys Corporation we have piloted an electronic performance support system that provides self-instruction for our clients at their point of need.
La Minería de Datos (Data Mining) es un término del que se hablado bastante en los últimos años. Sin embargo es sólo una parte de algo mucho más interesante: el Descubrimiento de Conocimientos o Knowledge Discovery.
The experience profile of a product can be described in terms of these experiential components. Once such an experience profile has been properly defined, it must be translated in all product properties the designer can affect. It has an effect on the sensorial aspects of the product, but also on the way it functions, it affects the way people operate the product and even the way the product is marketed. In sum, the profile has an impact on all aspects that together shape the human-product interaction.
If you're familiar with the term user-interface (UI) design, you may think of it as the domain of software engineers. But software isn't the only product that has an interface - all products do, in fact. If you're one of the many designers who creates Web sites, PDF files, or other types of nonlinear or interactive publications, you can probably benefit from some of the principles of UI design.
The author argues for a new model of information retrieval called 'berrypicking.' This model attempts to be much more representative of the real behavior of information searchers than the traditional model of information retrieval.
Since computer use became more widespread in the 1980's and 1990's, considerable effort has been put into ensuring that the blind have equal access to state of the art techology. However, the dominance of graphical user interfaces and direct manipulation has reduced the effectiveness of old speech-based systems. This article discusses aspects of tactile and haptic interfaces, reviews current research on the topic, and provides design principles for practitioners culled from recent research.
The design of a special-purpose selection list is reviewed. As part of a performance-support application for classroom teachers, a means was needed for rapid selection from a large number of alternative words. By taking into account the inherent structure of the terms in the list, instead of treating it as a simple list of unspecified objects, a more efficient and more easily used design was achieved. By incorporating the structure of the alternatives, the design was also able to reflect and support best practices in classroom lesson planning.
Explains how technical communicators, drawing on their experience designing Web sites and software interfaces, can help design effective interfaces for telephone-answering and call-routing systems.
Is your design resistant to failure? If a worst case occurs, can the user recover and regain trust in your solution? This article explores the case of warnings, alerts and alarms, and provides an introduction to the important factors in gaining user attention to failures or critical events – and how to deal with them. As designers, we all would like to focus on the “happy trail” through our system; but as many users will tell you, annoyances and obstacles to a pleasurable user experience is how a system handles errors and important events out of the ordinary.