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Software Engineering: Principles and Practice by Hans van Vliet

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Chapter 16. User Interface Design

With Gerrit C. van der Veer, Open University, Heerlen, The Netherlands

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • To be aware of different architectural styles for interactive systems

  • To appreciate the role of different types of expertise in user interface design

  • To be aware of the role of various models in user interface design

  • To understand that a user interface entails considerably more than what is represented on the screen

  • To recognize the differences between a user-centered approach to the design of interactive systems and other requirements engineering approaches

Note

Software systems are used by humans. Cognitive issues are a major determinant of the effectiveness with which users go about their work. Why is one system more understandable than another? Why is system X more 'user-friendly' than system Y? In the past, the user interface was often only addressed after the system had been fully designed. However, the user interface concerns more than the size and placement of buttons and pull-down menus. This chapter addresses issues about the human factors that are relevant to the development of interactive systems.

Today, user needs are recognized to be important in designing interactive computer systems, but as recently as 1980, they received little emphasis. Grudin (1991)

We can't worry about these user interface issues now. We haven't even gotten this thing to work yet!

(Mulligan et al., 1991)

A system in which the interaction occurs at a level which is understandable to ...

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