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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Principles of User Interface Design

    http://bokardo.com/principles-of-user-interface-design/

    Someone's made a list, oh my! What do you think of it? Where have you seen products get this wrong?

    #5 "Direct manipulation is best" is clearly where mice and joysticks went somewhat off-track, and where touchscreens came back.

    #8 "Provide a natural next step" is a good reason to, for example, let people know the form they submitted worked, and some places to go afterwards.

    #18 "Great design is invisible" What's the last task you did where you didn't really notice the interface much at all? Would be great to hear web examples.

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    There are some things wrong with the principles in the design for the "Principles of User Interface Design" page:

    02. Clarity is job #1
    - a bigger line height would help with that

    03. Conserve attention at all costs
    - it's catch attention back, give a sense of advancement, by providing a less monotone list, especially when the list is so big

    12. Smart organization reduces cognitive load
    - the list could use a topic categorization, a quick ToC at the top; 20 elements in a big wall of text, with every list item being a big paragraph, where you scroll and scroll ... and scroll, seems like going 100 miles at a 100 mph on a 200 miles straight highway

    13. Progressive disclosure
    - see above: categorization

    14. Help people inline
    - see above above: a ToC to remain always with you when you go through the list

    <hr>

    Other than that, a good list. I wish they would be more in tune with the principles presenting them.

    <hr>

    I wouldn't agree with
    18. Great design is invisible
    Great design should feel right, should fit, which is a far cry from invisible.

    <hr>

    I like
    17. Existing problems are most valuable
    beside the ones listed by you Mallory, and by me.

    <hr>

    1, 16, 20 are a bit... forced.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitică
    I wouldn't agree with
    18. Great design is invisible
    Great design should feel right, should fit, which is a far cry from invisible.
    But I agree that a good design is one the users don't notice or remark on. Designers will tell each other "oh wow that interface is soooo good!" but other than software reviewers (who think about the design too... how easy was it to use?) people don't tell their friends and enemies about a design... unless it sucks in some way.


    Re #1:
    Quote Originally Posted by article
    The act of designing interfaces is not art and they are not monuments unto themselves. ..The best interfaces can inspire, evoke, mystify, and intensify our relationship with the world.
    Seems to contradict itself. To me, "art" is what inspires, evokes, mystifies (!) and blah blah. I don't personally feel that's the job of an interface, but rather the software the interface is... interfacing you with. I don't want the road to be art, just the journey. Maybe.

    #16 I only really agree with if it's an interface that's expected to have more new users than experienced... interfaces like airport kiosks or telephone boxes or tax software where people will be using the thing just once, or once a year, and it needs to be painfully obvious to everyone what does what. A program people will be using regularly does not need to do this, and maybe shouldn't.

    #20 seems another foray into art-fart-ness.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    Great list, I completely agree with it. All designers/developers are designing something that is being used by people and should ultimately understand how their website is experienced and the underlying psychology in order create a nice website. A lot of the time a find people get obsessed with adding features rather that considering use. I think this should be plastered all over the reviews and critiques forum.


    #1: Is a bit contradictory but I think it's trying to establish that design is not the commonly perceived veneer or style but something that is utilitarian and integral to function but then at the same time is somewhat art.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    #16 I only really agree with if it's an interface that's expected to have more new users than experienced... interfaces like airport kiosks or telephone boxes or tax software where people will be using the thing just once, or once a year, and it needs to be painfully obvious to everyone what does what. A program people will be using regularly does not need to do this, and maybe shouldn't.
    Hmm if it was painfully obvious than I believe it would contradict #18. I think this was aiming to say something a little more subtle. I think this rule is more about the intuitive-ness of an interface before you take any action to use it. Take google for example, the first thing you see on google is a search bar, which tells you you should search, everyone knows how to use google whether its their first time or not. Or an iphone, you turn it on and am immediately faced with a bunch of app icons, there's no question of what to to you simple touch the app you'd like to run.

    #20 I also agree with. I'm sure you've all seen a myriad of flashy websites that kinda of say 'Look at this great thing I can do' but they haven't considered how it is used at all - awful websites. This is just a reminder that you should be considering how your website is used rather than tooting your own horn.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanking
    I think this rule is more about the intuitive-ness of an interface before you take any action to use it. Take google for example, the first thing you see on google is a search bar, which tells you you should search, everyone knows how to use google whether its their first time or not. Or an iphone, you turn it on and am immediately faced with a bunch of app icons, there's no question of what to to you simple touch the app you'd like to run.
    We'll ask ourselves: what is intuitive? Often for designers, it means "familiarity". That is, users are assumed to have experience somewhere else and if THIS looks like THAT, then users can start making assumptions about what things are, and can have expectations of what will happen when they do things. But what's closer to real intuition is, is it easy to learn? I think this can beat familiarity, and the original Google interface (from years back) did that. You could type something in. The search buttons were obvious (though the gambling button was confusing, but it was optional so nobody cared). And you can't really do it wrong. It's a patient interface, doesn't break the back button, users can try all sorts of things just to see what happens. Undoing (and re-doing) is as easy as doing.

    We'll ask ourselves: what's simplicity? Often for designers, it means "clean" or "less clutter". This can be a good thing. If a page or a site or an application does one thing and does it well, it should focus on this one thing and people will usually know what it's for.
    But hiding things in order to make things "cleaner" or "simpler" is something people do sometimes, in a way that prevents users from discovering useful functions, help, explanation or quicker ways of doing the things they're already doing. So long as this stuff is discoverable (yet still out of the way if it's not expected to be used a lot) it's generally okay.

    I read recently of an example of a program which took many clicks or stages through a menu to turn on and off a feature. The builders assumed few people would use the feature, and if they did, they would want it on all the time: meaning, setup would be a one-time thing, so letting it sink deep into the interface was ok to them. Instead, the deep menu prevented people from using the feature, which actually had many more and wider application than the builders had assumed. People thought sometimes that the feature wasn't even available, and you can imagine people may have gone to the competition who had this feature a bit more prominent or easier to get to. Simplifying the interface by reducing available options per level wasn't the best way of designing that one there.

    This stuff's hard, and interesting as heck!

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    We'll ask ourselves: what is intuitive? Often for designers, it means "familiarity". That is, users are assumed to have experience somewhere else and if THIS looks like THAT, then users can start making assumptions about what things are, and can have expectations of what will happen when they do things. But what's closer to real intuition is, is it easy to learn? I think this can beat familiarity, and the original Google interface (from years back) did that.
    I would be careful holding one as more important than the other - I would say learning is just establishing new familiarities and without familiarities it wouldn't be easy to learn, they're both important to creating something intuitive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    We'll ask ourselves: what's simplicity? Often for designers, it means "clean" or "less clutter". This can be a good thing. If a page or a site or an application does one thing and does it well, it should focus on this one thing and people will usually know what it's for.
    But hiding things in order to make things "cleaner" or "simpler" is something people do sometimes, in a way that prevents users from discovering useful functions, help, explanation or quicker ways of doing the things they're already doing. So long as this stuff is discoverable (yet still out of the way if it's not expected to be used a lot) it's generally okay.

    I read recently of an example of a program which took many clicks or stages through a menu to turn on and off a feature. The builders assumed few people would use the feature, and if they did, they would want it on all the time: meaning, setup would be a one-time thing, so letting it sink deep into the interface was ok to them. Instead, the deep menu prevented people from using the feature, which actually had many more and wider application than the builders had assumed. People thought sometimes that the feature wasn't even available, and you can imagine people may have gone to the competition who had this feature a bit more prominent or easier to get to. Simplifying the interface by reducing available options per level wasn't the best way of designing that one there.
    I don't disagree with you. Some pages are certainly over simplified, some more complicated than necessary but I would say these a created of the considering the wrong thing. In most cases where I've seen an oversimplified website involves people considering how the page looks rather than how it is used. Same as an overcomplicated website involves people saying yes to everything and losing focus. A good website is as simple as it can possibly be without losing functionality and I think the only this can be a achieved is by considering the user experience.

    I usually know what I'm doing but I certainly get uncomfortable going a few levels deep into a menu system especially if there's only a back button, however maybe if I had access to the entire menu system no matter how deep I went then I'd feel much less restricted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    This stuff's hard, and interesting as heck!
    Definitely. Whilst it's hard at the same time it is almost common sense, its the stuff thats common amongst all of us. You just need to forget what you know as the designer and put yourself in the users shoes.


    Here's a somewhat related talk I watched the other day:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/rory_suther...verything.html

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanking
    I usually know what I'm doing but I certainly get uncomfortable going a few levels deep into a menu system especially if there's only a back button, however maybe if I had access to the entire menu system no matter how deep I went then I'd feel much less restricted.
    Yeah. I was paging through Jenifer Tidwell's Designing Interfaces (O'Reilly) and she pointed out what was rather nice about the trend of "fat footers": if you don't think it's a good idea to have a very deep dropdown menu at the top of your page, you could offer a site-mappy fat footer which just shows everything (or lots of all the stuff not in the top menu) out in the open... since it's a footer we don't have to care too much about space taken up. Lots of people miss footers anyway, but it can be there for those who want it.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanking
    Here's a somewhat related talk I watched the other day:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/rory_suther...verything.html
    Wow, a TED talk that doesn't suck! This one has as much psychology as any other TED talk, except here it's not worthless populist psychobabble. Thank you.

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    SitePoint Enthusiast Yallow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    #20 seems another foray into art-fart-ness.
    #20 is definitely very true. I've seen many designers get too carried away with the graphics of a website and totally ignore the functionality and usability. Sometimes the look of the site can distract the user enough to ignore key content which is the real reason they came there. I believe this is why minimalism is such a big thing recently.


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