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Principles of good GUI Design
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:39:36 PM »
Principles of good GUI Design

Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have become the user interface of choice. Yet despite the GUI's popularity, surprisingly few programs exhibit good interface design. Moreover, finding information explaining what constitutes a good and intuitive interface is exceedingly difficult. In this article, I describe the basic rules for all good interfaces -the cardinal dos and don'ts.
However, before starting in on what constitutes good design, I need to explain the causes of bad design. This way, if you are tempted to deviate from the tried and true, you'll know where the wrong path leads -and, I hope, get back to good design.
Forgetting the User
Developers often design for what they know, not what the users know. This age-old problem occurs in many other areas of software development, such as testing, documentation, and the like. It is even more pernicious in the interface because it immediately makes the user feel incapable of using the product. Avoid this error diligently.
Give Users Control
GUI designers' predilection for control is evident in applications that continually attempt to control user navigation by graying and blackening menu items or controls within an application. Controlling the user is completely contradictory to event-driven design in which the user rather than the software dictates what events will occur. As a developer, if you are spending a lot of time dynamically graying and blackening controls, you need to re-examine your design approach and realize that you may be controlling the user, who may not want to be controlled. As business changes at a faster pace, flexibility in user interfaces will become a key enabler for change. Allowing the user to access the application in ways you never dreamed can be scary, but satisfying for you as a developer and empowering for the user.
Too Many Features at the Top Level
Examine a VCR built in 1985 and then examine one built in 1995. You will see a startling difference in the interface of the two models. The model built in 1985 will have an abundance of buttons readily available on the faceplate of the unit, many of which will remain a mystery since the manual was lost years ago. The 1995 model will have only a few buttons for the key features people use: play, fast-forward, reverse, stop, and eject. This model will probably have even more features than the model built a decade before, yet the features will be cleverly tucked away behind a drop-down panel or sliding door, accessible when needed but not staring you in the face.
Likewise, you should ensure that features used frequently are readily available. Avoid the temptation to put everything on the first screen or load the toolbar with rarely used buttons. Do the extra analysis to find out which features can go behind the panel instead of on the faceplate.


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Principles of good GUI Design
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:39:36 PM »

 
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