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GUI Design: Lessons Lost

Why do we fail to learn from the lessons of the past? Because we don’t take the time to learn them! Part of the problem is that we, as designers and creators, often never fully appreciate or understand what went into the products that we are enhancing or replacing. Most users of most software applications take advantage of a minimal subset of the product without gaining much depth or a complete knowledge to build upon. Designers can fall into the same trap. The most effective users of applications I have ever known are those that take the time to read and understand the documentation. These users are efficient, effective, and knowledgeable, but they are the exception. We live in a day of impatience. If a feature cannot be found or understood quickly, the pursuit … Read entire article »

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GUI Design: Don’t Slow Me Down

The most important responsibility of a GUI is to allow users to accomplish what they need. Most users are focused on a specific task and usually would like to complete their tasks as quickly as possible. Logical, timely interruptions certainly have the potential to save users from errors, but often applications interrupt in ways that are just wrong. Examples include either the wrong timing or the wrong question.   BAD TIMING Some months ago I was due on a conference call where multiple persons from international locations planned to use Skype® for the meeting. I was delayed in the hallway for an important conversation as I returned to my office for the meeting, arriving about the time the call … Read entire article »

GUI Design: Moving from Web to Mobile

In the evolution of “everywhere access” it’s easy to make mistakes. Most organizations already have a web presence and are in the process of providing access that is specific for mobile devices. Unfortunately there are some common mistakes that can be very frustrating for users. EVOLUTION OF MOBILE ACCESS Here are the steps that most organizations have or are taking in making their offerings accessible everywhere: Check the web browser on a mobile device to verify that the web site displays. Update the web site to function better through a mobile browser. Detect that a mobile device is being used and adjust the display accordingly. Create a mobile app instead of relying solely on a web browser. PAST: PROBLEMS, YES, BUT MANAGEABLE When … Read entire article »

GUI Design: Minimum Width

Wrap items when there is not enough space Ignore the need to wrap Web GUIs have a lot of freedom when it comes to design and layout. Unfortunately all those options can easily and quickly lead to poor decisions for the user. One of those layout decisions is the GUI’s minimum width. By “minimum width” I am referring to how wide the browser window must be in order to see all of the important functionality at the top of the screen at one time. It is presumptuous and short-sighted to act as though yours is the only window the user will want to see at any given time. For many users, larger screen size and screen resolution are met with … Read entire article »