Stefan Sachs
Dr. Ing.
Beratender Ingenieur
   
Design and Implementation of User Interfaces

Communication with a device uses a language, not too different from natural language. Languages are easy to learn, when the vocabulary is easy to remember and the grammar is logical and so concise, that it just fits the purpose of the language
Everywhere, where efficient communication is essential, language is reduced to fit these requirements (Navigation, Military, Operating Room).

If a device  is easy or difficult to operate depends on widgets, which are easy to identify and operating procedures, which are easy to remember, i.e. simple vocabulary and grammar. From those considerations, simple rules may be deviated:

  • UI elements with obvious purpose  (explained by meaningful texts or understandable pictograms).
    Operation (press, pull, tilt, turn) demonstrated by form.
    Use of established paradigms (e.g. WIMP).
  • Clear feedback for any input, tactile, visible or audible announcement. Especially important is negative feedback on invalid entries.
  • Similar sequences for similar processes.  Intermediate states have to be distinct and recognizable. When aborted, the system should be put back into the original state. Shortcuts should not lead to intermediate states
  • The likeness of operating procedures and formal languages makes it possible, to take advantage of the mature knowledge available for design and processing of grammars for the design of user interfaces.  All, what can be described by a concise formal grammar is also easy to remember. Procedures, which cannot be easily transformed into a formal language usually annoy the users too..

These recommendations may look trivial, creating a good user interface is .a long and tedious task.
Understanding of the users requirements, experience in design of UI layouts and workflows,  patience and careful evaluation of variants, all together will make better user interfaces. And using an efficient tool for creating prototypes will limmit the effort to create a convincing User Interface.

 
 
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