Interface Design und Usability

I’ve read two great books on interface design recently. Huh? Interface design? Who cares? I would go so far as to recommend this to any programmer, regardless of his personal interest in GUI design.
While “GUI Bloopers” is more focused on current, ‘standard’ elements of interface design, and how to avoid the most popular mistakes when planning and designing interfaces, it still contains a lot of timeless, important material on general topics and rules of interface design.
Raskin goes beyond current interfaces in his book on “Humane Interfaces”. Based on theoretical founding (“one locus of attention”), he develops new ways of interaction with a completely revised system – including modified hardware. For example, he dismisses file names and paths as unsuitable to represent and locate information. Also, he explains why the Desktop metaphor as basis of our computer interaction is inherently flawed. And have you ever heard anyone else suggesting a two-part cursor?
Think of “GUI Bloopers” as the book you need to create good interfaces of today, and “The Humane Interface” to create great interfaces of tomorrow!


Get “GUI Bloopers” first, read it, then continue with the “Humane Interface”. You won’t regret it!
[quote]Over the past four decades, much evidence has accumulated suggesting that responsiveness — a software application’s ability to keep up with users and not make them wait — is the most important factor in determining user satisfaction. Not just one of the most important factors — the most important factor.
(…)
Responsiveness is related to performance, but different. Interactive software can have high responsiveness despite low performance, and it can have low responsiveness despite high performance. Performance is measured in terms of computations per unit time. Responsiveness is measured in terms of compliance with human time requirements and, ultimately, user satisfaction. (Jeff Johnson, GUI Bloopers 2.0, 2007)[/quote]
[quote]The more critial the task, the less likely it is for users to notice warnings that alert them to potentially dangerous actions. A computer massage is most likely to be missed when it is most important for it not to be missed; this sounds like a humorous corollary of Murphy’s law, but it is not. One way we can help is to make sure that users cannot make interface operation errors, or that the effects of any actions are readily reversible rather than simply notifying users about the potential consequences of their actions. Most interface situations can be designed such that error messages are unnecessary.
(…)
Whenever you find yourself specifying an error message, please stop; then redesign the interface so that the condition that generated the error message does not arise. In other words, an error message signals an error, to be sure, but the error is usually in the design of the system or its interface, not on the part of the user. (Jef Raskin, The Humane Interface, 2000)[/quote]
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[*]Jeff Johnson: GUI Bloopers 2.0. Common User Interface Design Don’ts and Dos.
Morgan Kaufmann. 2000/2007. 424 pages.


[*]Jef Raskin: The Humane Interface. New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems.
Addison-Wesley. 2000. 256 pages.

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For more recommendations on software development related books, check out [url=http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=mo.&shelf=list]my bookshelf at LibraryThing[/url].

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