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Hiaz.InterfaceDesignr1.1 - 05 Jul 2005 - 13:16 - TWikiGuesttopic end

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Interface design

Neil Churcher Basic Human Interface Principles

Adaption: Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines 1992


  • Familiarity
  • Consistency

  • User Control
  • Forgiveness
  • See and Point
  • Direct Manipulation
  • User Feedback

  • Modalness/Modelessness
  • Progressive Disclosure
  • Perceived Stability
  • Feature Creep
  • Accessibility & inclusiveness
  • Aesthetic Integrity

Standard behaviour makes new functions seem already familiar. Developers should use interface elements and behaviours already familiar to users because it allows people to transfer their knowledge and skills from one application to any other. Standard elements used by the most common applications are most familiar and are already comfortable for the user. Developers that use unfamiliar elements and behaviours for familiar tasks will confuse the user.

Consistency of behaviour across an interface creates clarity. Consistency from one application to another and from one part of an interface from another establishes clarity and consequently ease of use.Use standard elements of an interface to ensure consistency within your application and to benefit from consistency across applications. Effective applications are consistent in a number of different ways. Consistency in the visual interface helps people learn and then easily recognize the graphic language of the interface. For example, once users know what a checkbox looks like, they don't have to learn another symbol for making choices.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
People should be able to see what they need when they need it. Don't hide features in your application by using abstract commands. For example, menus present lists of commands so that people can see their choices instead of having to remember and type command names. People should be able to find all the available features in your interface. If you find a need to initially "hide" features, do it in a way that gives people information about where they can those features.

User Control
Allow the user, not the computer, to initiate and control actions. People learn best when they're actively engaged. Too often, however, the computer acts and the user merely reacts within a limited set of options. In other instances, the computer "takes care" of the user, offering only those alternatives that are judged "good" for the user or that "protect" the user from having to make detailed decisions. This approach mistakenly puts the computer, not the user, in control.

Actions on the computer should be generally reversible. You can encourage people to explore your application by building in forgiveness. People need to feel that they can try things without damaging the system; create safety nets for people so that they feel comfortable learning and using your product

User input can be seen directly on the screen output. Users interact directly with the screen, selecting objects and performing activities by using a pointing device, typically a mouse, to point at elements on the desktop. The Macintosh desktop works according to two fundamental paradigms. Both paradigms share two basic assumptions: that users can see on the screen what they're doing and that users can point at what they see.

Direct Manipulation
Allow people to feel that they are directly controlling the objects represented by the computer. According to the principle of direct manipulation, an object on the screen remains visible while a user performs physical actions on the object. When the user performs operations on the object, the impact of those operations on the object is immediately visible. For example: Drag and drop.

User Feedback
Keep users informed about what's happening with the service. Provide feedback as they do tasks and make that feedback as immediate as possible. When a user initiates an action, provide some indicator, visual or auditory (or both), that your application has received the user's input and is operating on it.

A Mode occurs when an interface requires the user to perform an operation before any other operations can be conducted. Modes typically restrict the operations that the user can perform while it is in effect. It locks the user into one operation and doesn't allow the user to work on anything else until that operation is completed. In contrast, Modelessness allows the user to perform more than one operation at a time and thus gives the user more control over what he or she can do on the computer and in an application. As much as possible, you want to preserve the user's ability to be in control of the order of operations.

Perceived Stability
Stable reference points give a sense of predictability. Computers often introduce a new level of complexity for people. If people are to cope with this complexity, they need some stable reference points. The interfaces should be designed to provide a computer environment that is understandable, familiar, and predictable. An interface should denote stability even on top of an unstable technology.

Progressive Disclosure
Progressive disclosure is one way to reduce the complexity of your designs. It allows you to present the most common choices to users while initially hiding more complex choices or additional information. Progressive disclosure helps you develop your interface so that it is easy for novice users to learn and includes the features and power that advanced users desire

Feature Creep
When deciding whether or not to add features to your product, think about whether the benefits to users of additional capabilities outweigh the additional development efforts, growth in size, and reduction in running speed that the features would cost. If you are developing a simple application, it's very tempting to include additional features that users claim they want. It takes a lot of restraint to stick to the original intent of the application.

Accessability & inclusiveness
Creating products that all people can use, including people who have a disability. Approximately forty-three million people in the United States alone have some type of disability. Computers hold tremendous promise for people with many kinds of disabilities. In terms of increasing productivity and mobility, computers can have a far greater impact on people with a disability than on other users.

Aesthetic Integrity
Aesthetic integrity means that information is well organized and consistent with principles of visual design. This means that things look good on the screen and the display technology is of high quality. Since people spend a lot of their time working while looking at the computer screen, design your products to be pleasant to look at on the screen for a long time.

-- HiazHhzz - 18 Feb 2004
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