Re: Software Usability

Subject: Re: Software Usability
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 10:31:57 -0800

Christine -dot- Anameier -at- seagate -dot- com wrote:
> Bryan Johnson asked about software usability courses or seminars.
> I would highly recommend a look at the Interface Hall of Shame, a large,
> helpful, and very funny site created by Isys Information Architects
> ( It's neither a course nor a
> seminar, but as an informal crash course in interface design, it's
> priceless.

I'd second this site as a good place to start.

You can find endless books and papers about GUI design, but much of
it comes down to task analysis: you consider what users will do with
the interface, then design to make those tasks as easy as possible.

Another large chunk of usability amounts to editing: the naming of
buttons and menus and the designing of icons so that their functions
are clear.

That's not to say that the background material is useless, or that
interface design is easy. It isn't; in fact, it's very painstaking
and the considerations can be endless. At times, I've felt like a
cartoon character, getting one part of an interface nailed down only
to have problems spring up another part of it as a result. However,
experienced tech-writers should find enough analogies to their basic
job that they can function very well in interface design with a
minimal transition.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com
Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux

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