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RE: [usage-centered] browser based application UI

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  • Larry Constantine
    Halvard, ... Indeed, the devil dwells in the details, which is why we model tasks with essential use cases. These give us a much finer-grained picture of user
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 11, 2000
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      Halvard,

      > While I agree that you should always start with a task model,
      > this will only
      > cover higher level interaction. Adaption to a particular interaction style
      > and platform, like web-interaction through a browser, requires
      > getting many
      > details right. Implementing direct manipulation is impossible in a
      > web-browser, and while the browser/server model fits the forms based
      > interaction style pretty well, it cannot always be made to look &
      > feel like
      > a standard database application. And if there is a mismatch between the
      > users' expectations and the real rules of interaction, the
      > interface will be
      > a lot less usable, even though it is based on a sound task model.

      Indeed, the devil dwells in the details, which is why we model tasks with
      essential use cases. These give us a much finer-grained picture of user
      intentions and expectations.

      I would argue that for all new systems there must always, by definition, be
      a certain tension between user expectations and the interaction
      design--otherwise we would still be replicating command-line and
      green-screen interfaces on the desktop and on the Web. The legacy of user
      expectations must be understood and respected but not be allowed to become a
      tyranny. Again and again, we have found that non-standard but genuinely
      superior (more usable and task-centered)designs are be accepted by users if
      the payoff outweighs the departure from norms. The payoff comes from a close
      fit with the real task structure. And, there are techniques--visual
      affordance, instructive interaction, and the like--that make the unexpected
      easily understood.

      > Again, as a general rule I agree with this, but at some point in detailing
      > the user interface the interaction style mandated by the platform takes
      > becomes more important than the task model in defining the interaction. At
      > that point other rules apply, which are not covered by the
      > task/usage-based
      > approach.

      But, as you stated earlier, things are changing, and that includes the
      interaction style mandated by the platform. The Web and the desktop have
      been on a collision course for years, and the differences will continue to
      diminish as more and more desktop idioms appear on the Web and as Web-like
      presentation perfuses other software.

      --Larry Constantine
      Director of Research & Development | Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd.
      58 Kathleen Circle | Rowley, MA 01969
      t: 978 948 5012 | f: 978 948 5036 | www.foruse.com
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