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Expert One-on-One™ C# Design and Development by John Paul Mueller

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Chapter 4. Designing the User Interface

The user interface is your method of communicating with the user. The user may not see you, but when they see your interface, they're seeing part of you. Every developer puts something interesting into an interface. Sure, Microsoft and others have tried, somewhat successfully, to standardize the user interface, but there are always quirks to an interface that reflect the spirit of the developer who designed it. Because the user interface is your method of communicating with the user, you need to take special care in designing it so that your communication is both clear and efficient. Remember, in most cases, you won't be there to explain anything to the user who relies on your application.

Even though there is a movement toward interface standardization, there are many ways in which to differentiate your application. For example, the kind of interface (dialog box, standard window, tabbed, or free form) makes a significant difference in how the user views the application. Most users view dialog box applications as easier to use, even when they contain the same number and complexity of controls as a forms-based application or a windowed application. When it comes to the user interface, appearance is everything.

At some point, you must consider how to interact with the user in a complex way. Most applications today rely on a system of menus and toolbars to make the complete functionality of an application available to the user. However, task-based ...

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