Lecture Notes: Week 05 » Interface Design Review

Posted on April 17, 2011

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An interface is a point of interaction between things or a medium across which data passes. An example Greg gave was the Star Trek’s Holodeck, albeit fictional, it exemplifies how good interface is about being ‘transparent’.

A good interactive design should work well without the user noticing the interface and should have good clean clear navigation (Nicholas V. Luppa).

 Old Media: Passive consumption, for example: watching TV.

New Media: Interactivity – for example: Web 2.0 where users can collaborate and work with each other.

Some elements of present-day interactivity include:

Hypertextual Navigation: this allows linking from one information source to another.

Immersive Navigation: where you are ‘immersed’ or ‘embodied’ by the navigation.

Registrational interactivity: collaboration by writing back – eg. leavings comments or responses on blogs, facebook posts etc.

Interactive Communications: based on face-to-face communication eg. forum or live chat.

Visual-spatial thinking or Gestalt Psychology is essentially how users conceptualize functional wholes – how different elements of a website or screen designs work together.

Some fundamentals/essentials include:

Visual Focus:  the utilization of improved figure-ground contrast, animation, rollovers and stylesheets to indicate functional/clickable items and signal which elements users should focus on.

Problem Solving: providing users with options or maps to help them save their own problem. This include: navigational toolbars, search fields, dropdown menus, skip buttons and other alternative navigation.

Contextual: considering an interactive in a contextual light. This includes placing contextual information in higher site levels and placing detailed info in lower site levels.

Conceptual: considering what users already know and how you make your interactive communicate with them effectively. This includes using familiar icons, shapes and graphics and placing them in familiar contexts.

Wholeness: essentially how all the elements in an interactive work as a whole – the whole finished package.

Linear/Non Linear: Linear is when a user can only go forward and back – a straight line. Non linear allows all pages to be accessible from every page.

Some important things I’ve learnt from this lecture:

1. Interface is only a point of interaction and not interaction itself – interactive experience is dependent on the interface.

2. Consider using familiar icons/graphics and placing them into familiar contexts.

3. Strive for a non-linear navigational system.

4. Consider how elements will work together as a whole.

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