Derik Whittaker



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Deeper in .Net (live) -- The Science of a Great UI

Author: Mark Miller (Developer Express, iNeta Speaker)

The second session of the day was about great UI's.  I thought that this would be how to design great UI's, but no.  It really was about how we as developers need to start observing the 'cost' of the UI.  How much time/effort it takes for a user to navigate your application as well as how various things such as contrast, color, layout, etc can kill a user's experience.

Mark's speech was both funny (yea, a geek can be funny), but also very well thought out and very informative.  He was a great speaker.

Here are some of the topics that he covered

  • Did an overview of keystrokes and how they are expensive to the user.  He has even come up with a point system to calculate the cost of different keystrokes. (letters == 1, Space == .4, Ctrl+S == 2.5)
  • Did a review of how the distractions of user shortcuts (Ctrl+S, etc) are very costly to a user based and take away from their perceived efficiency or the task at hand.  Many, non-intuitive shortcuts name, sequences require memory space.
  • Went over how long mouse travel kills productivity.  We as UI designers need to think about mouse travel when building a UI.  Does the user have to go from side to side of the application in order to accomplish a task.
  • Talks about how various things take away from a users brainpower.  Annoying message boxes, vague toolbars, mis-managed UI layout
  • Edward Tufts book, he swears by this book.  A must read for designers.
  • How contrast and colors can make a huge impact on the UI design.  How we should use color to our advantage.  Create contrast to draw attention towards or away from various.
  • Differences of info in Serial and Parallel
    Serial - one thing at a time , requires you to remember the past
    Parallel - many things at once, does not require you to remember the past.
  • How UI's can lead to frustration and confusion if they are not clearly laid out.  Too much text, and readers will ignore the text.
    Do not make the user 'guess' what needs to be done, tell them.
  • -- Nice flash tool for choosing a color pallet to use.
  • Had a great concept of menus that 'learn' habits based on customer usages.  This is a great concept.  I guess DevExpress does exactly this.  Will need to check this out.

Overall, Mark gave a great presentation.  He is very engaging with the audience and gets very involved.

Till next time,

Posted 04-05-2008 11:11 AM by Derik Whittaker
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Comments wrote Science of a Great UI
on 04-05-2008 9:50 PM

You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from

Derik Whittaker wrote Deeper in .Net wrap up
on 04-06-2008 11:20 AM

Wow, yesterday was great. Myself and Jordan Martz make the trek up from Chicago land up to Brookfield

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