While I missed the recent 2015 Qt World Summit, I have been to and presented at Qt Dev Days for the previous three years running. Each year, I presented two topics. The first was related to a recent project or piece of software that we had been working on, including such fun items as an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system for Intel or the latest in voice recognition and gesture-based interfaces. My second talk was actually the same each year: “Introduction to User Experience for Engineers”. I made tweaks to the talk every year based on new experiences or research, but the core was always same, and every year the room was packed.
This told me that, each year, there was a consistent percentage of the conference that was not only interested in the nuts-and-bolts of building a UI using Qt, but also interested in crafting an interface that provided a quality experience to those using it. A key message that I tried to give my audience was that, very often, it is the same amount of programming effort to do the “right thing” from a UX perspective as it is to do the wrong thing. Most developers never really learn which choice might be better, so at best it’s a coin toss, with the end user being the one who really cares about the result.
The core of my presentation was based on the Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design, which were first created back in the 1980s by Dr. Ben Shneiderman of the University of Maryland. I first encountered these rules in the textbook “Designing the User Interface” (fourth edition, Addison Wesley, 2005), which I was using for the graduate class I was teaching that semester.
As noted on Professor Shneiderman’s website (https://www.cs.umd.edu/users/ben/goldenrules.html ), the list has evolved a bit over the years but still remains a powerful guide to students and designers alike. The list resonated very strongly with me, and I could see how it could provide solid, actionable chunks of design knowledge for developers to apply to any systems they were being developed. Three years of presenting the list to rooms full of engineers seems to have borne that out.
The list is as follows:
- Strive for consistency
- Cater to universal usability
- Offer informative feedback
- Design dialogs to yield closure
- Prevent errors
- Permit easy reversal of actions
- Support internal locus of control
- Reduce short-term memory load
For further reading on this topic, you can visit our new and improved section on UX Design Guidelines on the ICS UXD Team website < http://www.ics.com/uxd/resources/shneiderman >.
Over the course of this series of posts, we’ll examine each of these rules at length, providing examples of why they should be followed, and how things can go horribly wrong when they are not.
- Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design, Dr. Ben Shneiderman of the University of Maryland, website last accessed January 8, 2016, https://www.cs.umd.edu/users/ben/goldenrules.html
- “Designing the User Interface” textbook, Shneiderman and Paisant, (fourth edition, Addison Wesley, 2005)