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“Designing an object to be simple and clear takes at least twice as long as the usual way.  It requires concentration at the outset on how a clear and simple system would work, followed by steps required to make it come out that way—steps which are often much harder and more complex than the ordinary ones.  It also requires relentless pursuit of that simplicity even when obstacles appear which would seem to stand in the way of that simplicity.”
         -T. H. Nelson, 1977

For a course on Human-Computer Interaction (also known as Usability Engineering), I kept a diary of computer or machine interfaces that, in my opinion, are flawed. In the diary entries, I discuss why they are flawed and suggest usability improvements based on sound principles of interface design from the HCI literature.

The first nine entries follow this description, while the last two are reports based on a Heuristic Evaluation of Adobe's Acrobat Reader and Microsoft's FrontPage software programs.

Journal Entries:

  • Entry 1: An analysis of the interface of PCR Machines used in Molecular Biology research
  • Entry 2: How to solve the problem of software programs that scroll too fast or too slow

  • Entry 3: The problem of pointing devices on laptop computers and a suggestion for re-design

  • Entry 4: An example of how a lack of user testing among integrated products (and their help manuals) can spell trouble for unsuspecting users

  • Entry 5: Photocopy machines need to improve their feedback: a new suggestion for improving the photocopy machine interface

  • Entry 6: Virtues and failings of Adobe Photoshop 5.0

  • Entry 7: An advanced color printer dialog box interface has all the bells and whistles -- except the most important one: the principle of WYSIWYG

  • Entry 8: On-line multi-page web submission form that should be redesigned to reduce time waste and frustration of its users

  • Entry 9: A PPP software program that forgot an important usability principle: avoid catastrophic destructive errors at all costs
  • Entry 10: Heuristic Evaluation of the Abobe Acrobat Reader software program

  • Entry 11: Heuristic Evaluation of the Microsoft FrontPage software program



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