Choose the Proper Screen-Based Controls

Screen controls, sometimes called widgets, are the elements of a screen that constitute its body. By definition, they are graphic objects that represent the properties or operations of other objects. A control may

  • Permit the entry or selection of a particular value.
  • Permit the changing or editing of a particular value.
  • Display only a particular piece of text, value, or graphic.
  • Cause a command to be performed.
  • Possess a contextual pop-up window.

In the last decade, some platforms have expanded the definition of a control to include all specifiable aspects of a screen, including screen text, headings, and group boxes. For the purposes of this discussion, this broader definition of a control will be assumed. This step will encompass

  • Identifying the characteristics and capabilities of the various screen controls, including
    • Buttons.
    • Text entry/read-only controls.
    • Selection controls.
    • Combination entry/selection controls.
    • Specialized operable controls.
    • Custom controls.
    • Presentation controls.
    • Web controls.
  • Selecting the proper controls for the user and tasks.

The screen designer is presented with an array of screen controls to choose from. Selecting the right one for the user and the task is often difficult. But, as with input devices, making the right choice is critical to system success. A proper fit between user and control will lead to fast, accurate performance. A poor fit will result in lower productivity, more errors, and dissatisfaction. ...

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