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duig-10doc - Visibility of system status

Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

Copyright ? 2006 Dokeos Rue des Palais 44 Paleizenstraat, B-1030 Brussels, Belgium info@dokeos.com Tel. +32 (2) 211 34 56 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. You may obtain a copy of the GNU Free Documentation License from the Free Software Foundation by visiting their Web site [http://www.fsf.org]

Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

Table of Contents

Introduction ............................................................................................................... 5

Interface User Guidelines............................................................................................. 6

1. Involve Users in the Design Process....................................................................... 6

2. Speak the users’ verbal and visual language ........................................................... 7

3. Build on users' Mental Model of the tasks ............................................................... 8

4. Keep the User Informed ....................................................................................... 9

5. Provide appropriate feedback .............................................................................. 10

6. Put the User in Control ....................................................................................... 10

7. Make Actions predictable and reversible ............................................................... 11

8. Reduce latency ................................................................................................. 12

9. Avoid feature bloat ............................................................................................ 13

10. Manage Complexity ......................................................................................... 13

11. Make Your Application Consistent ...................................................................... 14

12. Provide an aesthetic Integrity ........................................................................... 15

    Subtractive design ............................................................................................. 16

    Visual hierarchy ................................................................................................. 16

    Extra space ....................................................................................................... 16

    Icons ................................................................................................................ 16

    Fonts ................................................................................................................ 16

    Colors .............................................................................................................. 16

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

13. Allow users to customize .................................................................................. 17

14. Make "always at the same place" illusion ............................................................ 17

    15. Support Direct Manipulation of objects ............................................................... 18

16. Shorten labels with the key word(s) first ............................................................ 18

17. Reduce the distance of successively used elements ............................................. 19

18. Prevent errors ................................................................................................. 19

19. Provide help and documentation ....................................................................... 20

20. Be aware of cultural differences ........................................................................ 21

21. Be aware of linguistic differences....................................................................... 22

22. Don’t exclude people with special needs ............................................................. 23

Visual Disabilities ............................................................................................... 23

Other disabilities ................................................................................................ 24

23. Be conformant to public norms ......................................................................... 23

Références............................................................................................................... 25

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

Introduction

The present document is an effort to provide a framework of important guidelines for

    Dokeos interface design to help developers and designers make more effective contributions

    to Dokeos projects.

    The goal of user interface design guidelines is to have the interface positively support users'

    endeavours and to make the interface efficient, satisfying and transparent to the task the

    user is trying to accomplish. Respecting the guidelines can significantly improve the quality

    of Dokeos user interface in the following ways:

? Users will learn faster how to use Dokeos if the interface looks and behaves like

    applications they’re already familiar with ? Users can accomplish their tasks quickly, because well-designed applications don’t get in

    the user’s way.

    ? Dokeos applications will answer more effectively to users’ real needs

    ? Dokeos will seem less complex and simpler to use

    ? Users will make less errors and consequently will find Dokeos more stable, satisfying and

    fun to use

    ? Dokeos will be more compliant to work with old, current and future technologies

    ? Users with special needs will find Dokeos more accessible

    ? Dokeos will be easier to document, because an intuitive interface and standard

    behaviours don’t require as much explanation

    ? Dokeos will be easier to localize and internationalise

    User interface principals are the competitive differentiator in a now crowded marketplace.

    Those companies that position the user satisfaction as a strategic part of their business will

    survive and prosper. Effective interfaces are visually apparent and forgiving, instilling in

    their users a sense of control. Users quickly see the breadth of their options, grasp how to

    achieve their goals, and do their work.

    The following design principles are based on web usability and accessibility principals and on

    insights from software engineering, linguistics and psychology. These guidelines are

    prepared to assist you in developing products that provide Dokeos users with a consistent

    visual and behavioural experience across applications.

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

Interface User Guidelines

    1. Involve Users in the Design Process

The best way to make sure your product meets the needs of your target audience is to

    expose your designs to the examination of your users. Doing this during every phase of the

    design process can help reveal which features of your product work well and which need

    improvement.

There are two major sources of information about people: what people say and what you

    can observe. Don't trust either source exclusively. Observing and talking produce different

    cross-sections of information which will illuminate one another.

Exposing a prototype of the feature you are developing to some users may help you discover

    problems that you did not anticipate during your initial design phase. Clearly identifying the needs of your users helps you create products that deliver effective solutions and are

    typically easier for them to learn and use.

    Recognize that, as an application developer or interface designer, you have a greater wealth of knowledge and a more intricate understanding of your application than your customers

    are likely to have. Although you should use that knowledge to choose the best default

    settings or decide the best presentation of information, remember that you are not

    designing the program for yourself. It is not your needs or your usage patterns that you are

    designing for, but those of your (potential) customers.

    Try not to have any preconceived ideas other than to provide users with the tools they need. Try to develop an awareness of: the person's goals (long and short term), what they pay

    attention to and what they ignore, major sources of irritation, their physical environment,

    who they interact with and how, what actually dominates their time, and how existing

    products shape their work.

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

    2. Speak the users’ verbal and visual language

The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to

    the user, rather than system-oriented terms and concepts. Follow real-world conventions,

    making information appear in a natural and logical order.

Real-world representations and natural interactions give the interface a familiar look and feel

    and can make it more intuitive to learn and use.

You can often take advantage of your users' knowledge of the real world by using

    metaphor that is, a familiar concept from the outside world to represent elements within

    your application. For example:

    ? An image of a file folder suggests a container into which documents can be placed ? An object displayed as a trash can communicates to users that it is a place for discarding

    things

    When using metaphors, however, it is important to neither take the metaphor too literally,

    nor to extend the metaphor beyond its reasonable use. For example, the capacity of a file

    folder should not be limited to the capacity of a physical file folder, which presumably could

    contain only a few documents before becoming unwieldy. On the other hand, a waste basket

    should not be used for anything other than holding discarded files.

There are several factors to consider when using a metaphor:

Once a metaphor is chosen, it should be spread widely throughout the interface, rather than

    used once at a specific point. Even better would be to use the same metaphor spread over

    several applications.

Metaphor isn't always necessary. In many cases the natural function of the software itself is

    easier to comprehend than any real-world analogy of it. Don't strain a metaphor in adapting

    it to the program's real function. Nor should you strain the meaning of a particular program

    feature in order to adapt it to a metaphor.

Be aware that some metaphors don't cross cultural boundaries well. For example, Americans

    would instantly recognize the common U.S. Mailbox (with a rounded top, a flat bottom, and

    a little red flag on the side), but there are no mailboxes of this style in Europe.

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    3. Build on users' Mental Model of the tasks

    The user already has a mental model that describes the task your software is enabling. This model arises from a combination of real-world experiences, experience with other software, and with computers in general. For example, users have real-world experience writing and mailing letters and most users have used email applications to write and send email. Based on this, a user has a conceptual model of this task that includes certain expectations, such as the ability to create a new letter, select a recipient, and send the letter. An email application that ignores the user’s mental model and does not meet at least some of the user’s expectations would be difficult and even unpleasant to use. This is because such an application imposes an unfamiliar conceptual model on its users instead of building on the knowledge and experiences those users already have.

    Before you design your application’s user interface, try to discover your users’ mental model of the task your application helps them perform. Be aware of the model’s inherent

    metaphors, which represent conceptual components of the task.

    The mental model your users have should infuse the design of your application’s user

    interface. It should inform the layout of your application’s windows, the selection and organization of icons and controls in the toolbars, and the functionality of utility windows.

    Users should not have to learn new things to perform familiar tasks. The use of concepts and techniques that users already understand from their real world experiences allows them to get started quickly and make progress immediately.

    By choosing to be consistent with something the user already understands, an interface can be made easier to learn, more productive, and even fun to use. Providing a familiar

    experience is the ultimate use of consistency in which a truly intuitive interface will result.

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    4. Keep the User Informed

Always let the user know what is happening in your application by using appropriate

    feedback at an appropriate time. The user should never have to guess about the status of

    the system or of your application. When the user performs an action, provide feedback to indicate that the system has received the input and is operating on it.

    For potentially lengthy operations, use a progress indicator to provide useful information

    about how long the operation will take. Users don’t need to know precisely how many

    seconds an operation will take, but an estimate is helpful.

    The system should keep track of: ? Whether this is the first time the user has been in the system

    ? Where the user is

    ? Where the user is going

    ? Where the user has been during this session

    ? Where the user was when they left off in the last session

    and myriad other details.

    Although highly responsive applications can differ widely from one another, they share the

    following characteristics:

? They give immediate feedback to users, even when they cannot fulfil their requests

    immediately

    ? They provide enough feedback for users to understand what they are doing, and

    organize feedback according to users' abilities to comprehend and react to it

    ? They let users know when processing is in progress

    ? They let users know or estimate how long lengthy operations will take

Highly responsive applications put users in control by quickly acknowledging each user

    request, by providing continuous feedback about progress toward fulfilling each request.

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    Dokeos User Interface Guidelines 1.0

    5. Provide appropriate feedback

    It is critical that feedback be accurate and precise. If you display a determinate progress indicator to display the state of completion of a task and it is inaccurate, the user will lose

    faith in progress indicators, and they will find the environment less usable. If you display a

    generic error message that indicates that there is a problem but fails to provide enough

    information to diagnose or solve the problem, your users will be unable to continue with

    their task.

    When a user initiates an action, always provide an indication that your application has

    received the user’s input and is operating on it. Users want to know that a command is being carried out. If a command can’t be carried out,

    they want to know why it can’t and what can be done instead.

    A good warning or error message contains the following elements:

1. A brief description of the problem

    2. A list of ways the user can remedy the problem

Both of these elements should be presented in simple, non-technical and jargon-free

    language.

    6. Put the User in Control

As much as possible, allow users to do whatever they want at all times. Users should always

    feel in control, able to do what they want when they want. Users should be able to switch

    between different tasks at any time. Avoid using interfaces that lock them into one operation

    and prevent them from switching to anything else until that operation is completed. Users

    should always have a clear path out. Avoid interfaces that make users feel trapped. Use

    stable visual elements to enable people to navigate fast but also to allow them have

    dependable landmarks, giving people a sense of control on the navigation.

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