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User interfaces

Hi.
I'm a student in Iceland and we are creating a Tourism Virtual World of our home town.
I was wondering what you could tell me about user interfaces. What is good and what is not? Do you know of any good websites that discuss such matters? Also if you know of any Virtual Reality websites then that would be well appreciated :)
Thanks.

Groa Vilbergsdottir
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html

is a good book to start off on UI.

Prakash S
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I suggest reading this book:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0789723107/

J. D. Trollinger
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I received my UI Design for programmers yesterday actually ( as well as Peopleware) and was somewhat miffed at the size or lack thereof.  Having read the first six chapters last night... BUY IT!  worth every penny!

Brad Siemens
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

To start with Joel's book, accessible for free on ths site (first nine chapters only).

Next "The Lunatics are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper - about a lot more than user interface but you need the basic idea.

As you're designing a web site much of what books on UI design do won't apply, but you definitely need to think of ideas such as "affordance" and task based user interfaces.

The next thing to do is to go around a lot of web sites doing the same thing (remember to access them all with a 28.8kbs modem to get the experience that a user in an internet cafe will get), and see which things you like.

Remember to get your text to load first and have low resolution (or better still cartoons) of all your photos to come first.

And make another mock up of an all bells-and-whistles site (copying from the web) so when your customer/manager/tutor/classmates asks for something "cooler", a "richer experience*, you can give him it, and then give him it again over the modem connection. He'll normally have changed his mind before the flash animation is anywhere near downloading.

Avoid frames (and if you do use them have a no-frames option) have an alt text alternative for all graphic controls, use as little javascript as possible, make sure the text size can be changed by the browser (and never use anything smaller than 11pt, if you are setting it using style sheets). Test it at all resolutions from 640x480 to 1400 x1050 in Nertscape 6 & 7, Mozilla 1.0, IE4, IE5.0, IE5.5, and IE6. Also make sure that it won't be too dreadful in Netscape 4 but remember that there are bugs with tables that are impossible to fix there. Make sure that it looks great in both *00 x 600 and 1024 x 768, and that it is presentable at all other resolutions.

Ensure that your user always know where he is in your site and that he can both navigate back to the home page and exit without needing to use the back button on the browser.

And a million things more!

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I presumed you were designing for the web, but rereading your post it is not clear.

If you're designing for a CD/DVD, then the limitations on file size and testing with browsers don't apply.

You will have to keep your interface easy to understand though. And do make sure that it is very clear what is clickable and what is not (affordance).

And remember that CD ROM's and websites are completely different ball games, so don't even dream of adapting one design for both.

And keep the time factor in account. 3D modelling is a very time consuming process.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, October 23, 2002

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