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Page 1

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User Interfaces

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Good interface design
A good interface design can help to ensure that users carry out
their tasks:
­ Safely - in the case of a jumbo jet pilot, for example
­ Effectively - users don't find they have video'd two hours of Bulgarian clog
dancing instead of the Cup Final…

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Design Considerations
­ Who will use the system?
· Computer professionals or general public? For an educational
program, will the users be primary school children or teenagers?
Beginners or experienced? Or both?
­ What tasks is the computer performing?
· Very repetitive? Requiring skill and knowledge? Do tasks vary
greatly…

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Interface styles
Command line interface;
Menus;
Natural language;
Forms and dialogue boxes;
Graphical user interface (GUI).

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Menus
Several different kinds of menu interface:
­ Full screen menu
· Typically the front-end of an application
­ Pull-down menu
· As on menu bar at top of most Microsoft applications
­ Pop-up menu
· As with short-cut menus available on right-click

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Natural language dialogue
Advantages:
­ Most natural form of dialogue for humans -- no
need for training in a specialised command
language;
­ Extremely flexible and powerful;
­ The user is free to construct his own commands,
frame his own questions, etc.

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Natural language dialogue
Disadvantages:
­ People find it difficult to stick to strictly
grammatical English;
­ A well designed `artificial language' can often say
the same thing more concisely than `natural
language';
­ A smooth, natural language can easily mislead
the naive user into believing the computer is
much more…

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Forms and dialogue boxes
When the user is required to enter data:
­ Display should be given a title to identify it
­ The form should not be too cluttered
· spaces and blanks in a display are important
­ It should give some indication of how many
characters can…

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Forms and dialogue boxes
­ Items should appear in a logical sequence
­ Default values should be prewritten onto the
form to minimise of data entry
­ Full exit and `help' facilities should be provided
· users could enter `?' in a field if they require more
information;
­ Lower-case…

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The WIMP Interface
Windows, Icons, Mouse and Pull-down
menus
­ Window is the area on screen through which program
or data file is being viewed
­ Icon is a small picture representing a system item.
May be a file, program, command or storage medium.
Usually `clickable'
­ MS Windows allows…

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