Re: User Interfaces

Kevin McCormick (kmccormick@wpine.com)
Fri, 29 May 1998 20:53:43 -0400


Hey Jason,

Any chance you have your term paper up and online for our edification? I'd
like to see your opinion and findings.

Thx in advance. =)

Kevin

At 02:53 AM 5/29/98 -0500, you wrote:
>On Thu, 28 May 1998, Cragin Shelton wrote:
>> There has been continuing debate on this list about the interface on
>> Cornell, 2.x, and 3.x versions of CU-SeeMe. My own experience is that very
>> few users or designers of software actually study available research and
>> advice about user interface design. For those that want to bolster their
>> ammunition to defend their favorite or puke on anything they consider an
>> abomination, I recommend a couple of excellent books, both available from
>> amazon.com.
>
>Actually, I did a term paper on User Interfaces for a Software Engineerign
>class this last term. So I DID read up on it a bit. :)
>
>>From a simple aspect, you want a user interface to be powerful without
>being overly complex. Taking extra steps to accomplish the same thing
>usually isn't preferred unless it is more intuitive to do it that way.
>
>Let's take a small comparison between the 2.1.2 Enhanced CU version and
>3.1.1.016. A very controlled example would be: "How do I connect to a
>reflector at a specific conference ID that's not in the current phone
>book using the default rates?"
>For 2.1.2:
>1) Select Conference -> PhoneBook (if the Phone Book isn't already up)
>2) Click on Address and type in the IP
>3) Click on Conference ID and type in the ID
>4) Click Call
>
>For 3.1.1.016:
>1) Click Manual Dial
>2) Click Internet Address and type in the IP
>3) Click the Conference tab
>4) Click Conference ID and type in the ID
>5) Click Manual Dial
>
>This is the worst case scenario. Using 2.1.2, Step 1) might be optional
>if the Phone Book is already displayed (For me, it was already displayed
>when I loaded 2.1.2).
>
>The main added step is having to click another tab. Since all the
>functions are related, it makes more logical sense to place the Conference
>ID and other parameters directly on the Manual Dial screen. One other
>thing to notice is the wasted screen space in the Manual Dial screen to
>begin with, About 1/3 of the Manual Dial screen is dedicated to
>"Options". There's only one option there. "Option" itself is a rather
>vague term for a User Interface. Perhaps "Connect Options" would better
>explain it. Does that imply that the Conference ID isn't an "option"?
>Why does it deserve it's own tab?
>
>Another issue is the fact that only the IP address is stored in the Manual
>Dial. The Conference ID vanishes if you use Manual Dial again. Contrast
>this with the 2.1.2 PhoneBook where you can leave the PhoneBook loaded (or
>minimized so that it doesn't waste screen space) and it keeps the IP AND
>Conference ID stored. So if you wish to redial the same reflector again,
>2.1.2 makes it possible. 3.1.1.016 makes it impossible without
>remembering the Conference ID you were at.
>
>This is just ONE example of how the GUI was made more complicated..And
>yes, it DOES take more steps to accomplish a lot of the same things.
>Another thing to note, is that the Cornell 1.0 version uses the same
>Phone Book style as 2.1.2, so the steps to connect are the same for it.
>
>Those do sound like some pretty good books though... :)
>
>--
>streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx. | |
>streak@mail.utexas.edu * University of Texas at Austin | ___ |
>streak@cs.utexas.edu * BS Computer Science \_|_/
>*************** http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~streak/ **************|
>
>