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Thursday, February 10, 2011

User Interface Testing - The Golden Rules

User interface design creates an effective communication medium between a human and a computer. User interface is designed by a software engineer. Interface design focuses on three areas:
- design of interfaces between software components.
- design of interfaces between software and other non-human producers and consumers of information.
- design of interface between a human and computer.

Rules Forming the Basis For A Set of User Interface Design Principles

Place the User in Control: Some design principles that allow the user to maintain control are:
- Define the current state of the interface in a way that does not force a user in to unnecessary or undesired actions.
- Flexible interaction should be provided because different users have different interaction preferences.
- It allows the user interaction to be interruptible and un-doable.
- The user should not be aware of the technical internals like operating system, file management functions etc. The user interface should move the user into virtual world of the application.
- It is good to design a macro mechanism that enables an user to customize the interface to facilitate interaction.
- The interface should be designed in a manner in which user will have direct interaction with objects that appear on screen.

Reduce the User's Memory Load
Some design principles enabling an interface to reduce user's memory load:
- Interface should be designed to reduce the requirement to remember past actions and results. This can be done by providing visual cues that enables a user to recognize past actions rather than to recall them.
- Establish meaningful defaults.
- Shortcuts should be defined that are intuitive in nature.
- The visual layout of the interface should be based on real world metaphor.
- Interface should be organized in a hierarchical manner. The information should be disclosed in a progressive fashion.

Make the Interface Consistent
Consistency means that all visual information is organized according to a design standard, input mechanisms are constrained to limited set used consistently throughout the application and mechanisms for navigating from task to task.Some design principles that helps in making interface consistent are:
- Allow the user to put the current task into meaningful context.
- Consistency should be maintained across a family of applications.
- Do not make changes in past interactive models that have created user expectations unless there is some solid reason to change.

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