Interface designs for Community Networks, The Web, & System Architecture
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Nigel and Patrick essentially presented a mini-workshop or design forum on how to design an interface for a telecommunity. Focus was on the design of the interactive design process that involves community participation.
The design of a telecommunity interface should be thought of as a design cycle. The outcome of the design cycle is that it determines what works and what does not work.
Following are the steps in the design cycle:
- Asking questions
- Prototyping and development
- Public Release, Asking Questions Redo
- Evaluation and Re-Iteration
Three crucial questions to ask when designing your interface:
- What are the goals of this design/Why are we here?
- Who will use this design, why?
- Granularity to which you answer this question will aid you in specific design.
- We are looking for representation of these concepts
- What will the users use this design for?
Questions such as the following address the above questions:
- Are we going to make use of graphics?
- What version of HTML are we going to use?
- Are we going to have Java applets?
- What kind of browser are we going to assume everyone has?
- Negotiation -- what tool are we going to use?
- What usability and service requirements are we going to make?
- When do we know if we are done?
The next thing is the style guide. A style guide includes layout conventions, templates, graphics, construction, etc. You should update your style guide, and it should be written so that any HTML author that has been separated from their design team can write a few pages in the correct style by just using the guide as a reference.
Things that work:
Issaquah Online is an excellent example of a well designed interface.
Microsoft's homepage was presented as a bad example of an interface.
Following are some issues to take into consideration when designing your interface:
- Image size
Lower amount of colors so that the images do not take as long to load
- Navigation and getting lost within a system
- Remember people can come in through "the side door" or "the back door"
- People have got to always know where they are.
- On every single document give them a place to go home
- The user wants to be able to go to the information as quickly as possible
- The user should know what page they are on at all times.
- Perhaps include a short guide on how to navigate your sight
- Icons should allow us to jump up to the top level of the present section.
- Avoid lists of lists of lists of lists
- Avoid the problem with having to click down down down
- Person should be able to get information in as few clicks as possible.
- Having a search tool as part of your interface is a good idea.
- Design for a 14 inch monitor.
- Insure that the interface has continuity
- Use tools fully
- Use thumbnails for graphics
- Keep it simple.
- Actively and passively solicit feedback from the users of your interface.
- Record what you learn while you are supporting this interface.
The handout for Nigel and Patrick's presentation I available at the following url:
Reported by Marcel Albritton