Re: Visual metaphors

Subject: Re: Visual metaphors
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 08:21:41 -0800

>That's a different way of thinking about
>metaphors--not if the comparison seems accurate (between interface and
>desktop) but what kinds of feelings that comparison seems to invoke in
>people/users (whether we think those feelings are accurate or not).
>Sounds like an area for usability testing....

I don't know if he's written any of this down, but Chuck Clanton, an
excellent interface designer, usually speaks at a conference I attend
annually. He often looks at films for guidance, because the masters of that
medium have solved many of the problems we work with in GUIs.

As a simple example, notice how films like Casablanca set the stage by
flashing the name of the place and time on the screen as the story begins.
Trivial to do, but it immediately orients the viewer.

One of the things Chuck noticed was that viewers have strong reactions to
the directions things move on the screen. I forget the details now, but
there seem to be unspoken conventions -- obviously the result of usability
testing! -- that require good, normal, helpful entities to enter from the
bottom or the left and move up and right, while bad ones pop in from the
right or fall from above.

I'm sorry I remember so few of the actual details. Next time I see Chuck
I'll ask if he's written any of this down. ...RM

Richard Mateosian President, Berkeley STC
Freelance Technical Writer srm -at- c2 -dot- org Review Editor, IEEE Micro

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