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User Interface Design - Books?

Hi all,

Can anyone recommend any books for User Interface Engineer for Windows
Forms application?

At the company I work at, we've gone GUI component happy. Basically GUI
tools (i.e. Infragistics) are placed into the product for the sake of a
pretty GUI. In the end, I find the application harder to use than without
them!

So I'm wondering if there is a good book I can read about best practices
for user interface design so that I can convince my co-workers the route
we're going is not the right one.

Thanks!
Nov 20 '06 #1
9 2806
It's really about what you do with the components. Infragistics components
are fairly flexible in terms of turning off various features, etc, to suit
your application.

Perhaps the problem is that these components are being used irresponsibly.
There is nothing wrong with using components that look nice or support
themes better, and so on.

"Spam Catcher" <sp**********@rogers.comwrote in message
news:Xn**********************************@127.0.0. 1...
Hi all,

Can anyone recommend any books for User Interface Engineer for Windows
Forms application?

At the company I work at, we've gone GUI component happy. Basically GUI
tools (i.e. Infragistics) are placed into the product for the sake of a
pretty GUI. In the end, I find the application harder to use than without
them!

So I'm wondering if there is a good book I can read about best practices
for user interface design so that I can convince my co-workers the route
we're going is not the right one.

Thanks!

Nov 20 '06 #2
"Marina Levit [MVP]" <so*****@nospam.comwrote in
news:#4**************@TK2MSFTNGP03.phx.gbl:
Perhaps the problem is that these components are being used
irresponsibly. There is nothing wrong with using components that look
nice or support themes better, and so on.
I believe they are being use irresponsibly. The GUI components are being
used for the sake of being pretty - no functionality is added. While I
agree a modern UI is required to sell an application, our software looks
more like "Tonka Toys" (very bright, no cohesion in interface design, stuff
is placed there for "ooo" factor).

Our applications are enterprise oriented ... they're built for large
corporations. I'm surprised no one in any meetings has snickered at the GUI
yet. Perhaps customers don't care as much as I think they do?
Nov 20 '06 #3
I believe they are being use irresponsibly. The GUI components are being
used for the sake of being pretty - no functionality is added. While I
agree a modern UI is required to sell an application, our software looks
more like "Tonka Toys" (very bright, no cohesion in interface design, stuff
is placed there for "ooo" factor).
A good looking UI is pretty important. Even I don't care to stare at
an ugly application all day. Many people called the Windows XP
interface 'Fisher Pricey,' but I like it more than the old plain Win9x
interface.
Our applications are enterprise oriented ... they're built for large
corporations. I'm surprised no one in any meetings has snickered at the GUI
yet. Perhaps customers don't care as much as I think they do?
Yet these enterprises at the end of the day are made up of people, and
people don't like looking at ugly interfaces all day. There's plenty
of studies showing people like pretty better, even if its not the best.
Just a few weeks ago on 20/20, they showed that pretty, less qualified
people were hired more often than highly qualified 'ugly' people. Just
human nature I supposed (if you believe they did an accurate study).

At any rate, its pretty easy to bring some cohesion to the interface
design; get someone on the AppStylist program. You can use that to
apply a consistent look to your application. The feel of your
application is still up to you.

I've replaced my standard DataGridViews with the Infragistics GridView
throughout my application, even if the DataGridView was doing fine...
but I'm trying to mimic the look and feel out Outlook 2003. In some
places, the 'prettier' interface also is more usable. For example, I'm
using the ExplorerBar in place of the older, non-standard menus and
empty workspace area.

HTH
Andy

Nov 20 '06 #4

Spam Catcher wrote:
Hi all,

Can anyone recommend any books for User Interface Engineer for Windows
Forms application?

At the company I work at, we've gone GUI component happy. Basically GUI
tools (i.e. Infragistics) are placed into the product for the sake of a
pretty GUI. In the end, I find the application harder to use than without
them!

So I'm wondering if there is a good book I can read about best practices
for user interface design so that I can convince my co-workers the route
we're going is not the right one.
Take a look at About Face 2.0 by Cooper and Reimann. I think it is very
helpful in thinkg through interface questions.

A key point of discussion is: for what kind of user are you building
the application. Tutorials and things like Excel's "Clippy" are good
for beginning users. Chorded shortcuts are great for advanced users.
But, the book makes a strong case that for most applications, we should
really target the intermediate user. No one wants to stay a beginner,
and few work often enough in an application to be an expert.
(Obviously, this can vary by application.). For example, Tool Tips, the
authors say, are great for internediate users. They are a reminder of
what something does, but they only pop up if/when you need them.

Your conflict may stem from this critical point - who is the target
user?

Nov 20 '06 #5
In this case I wouldn't blame using third party controls on this. If there
is no coherence, then that can be accomplished no matter what controls are
being used.

It does sound surprising that there is no one paying attention to the UI.
Most companies like to have their own type of UI standards, so that their
applications stand out.

I know as a developer, it is hard for me to care about the look and feel, I
only care about what it can do. However, in my head, I know that a
consistent UI is important, and so is a look. However, I prefer that other
people worry about that.

You probably need someone, or a small group of someones whose job it is to
make things not only look pretty, but to come up with a set of UI standards
that developers have to conform to. For example, wrapping UI controls in
user controls is one way to do this - thus, developer end up unable to
change the underlying controls, since they are only able to interact with
the control through an interface, etc.

But yes, if there is no one in charge of this making sure standards are
followed, it is not going to be an easy task getting people to change their
ways. This isn't a small project either, coming up with these standards and
then implementing them is easily a full time job if you want to do it all
the way.

"Spam Catcher" <sp**********@rogers.comwrote in message
news:Xn**********************************@127.0.0. 1...
"Marina Levit [MVP]" <so*****@nospam.comwrote in
news:#4**************@TK2MSFTNGP03.phx.gbl:
>Perhaps the problem is that these components are being used
irresponsibly. There is nothing wrong with using components that look
nice or support themes better, and so on.

I believe they are being use irresponsibly. The GUI components are being
used for the sake of being pretty - no functionality is added. While I
agree a modern UI is required to sell an application, our software looks
more like "Tonka Toys" (very bright, no cohesion in interface design,
stuff
is placed there for "ooo" factor).

Our applications are enterprise oriented ... they're built for large
corporations. I'm surprised no one in any meetings has snickered at the
GUI
yet. Perhaps customers don't care as much as I think they do?


Nov 20 '06 #6
I agree with Andy. When I develop an application, I try to make it
as attractive as possible -- the users like it better. I guess
it's human nature. Although it's hard to believe, sometimes you
get more appreciation for the icons/graphics on the screen than
for the functionality. I think they take the functionality for
granted, and the other stuff is like getting a free Christmas
ornament at Hallmark when you buy 10 cards. :-)

I enjoyed Joel Spolsky's book, "User Interface Design for
Programmers". He's fairly entertaining, and I find him
right on the mark. This is a fairly basic book -- what users
like (they don't read!) and stuff like that. If you've never
heard of him, check out his blog http://joelonsoftware.com. His
book "Joel On Software" is one of the most entertaining books
I've ever read on programming. (He used to work for MS.)

Another book that looked good to me (but I haven't bought yet)
is "Designing Interfaces" by Jenifer Tidwell -- it's an O'Reilly
book.

Robin S.
--------------------------------
"Andy" <an***@med-associates.comwrote in message
news:11*********************@b28g2000cwb.googlegro ups.com...
>I believe they are being use irresponsibly. The GUI components are being
used for the sake of being pretty - no functionality is added. While I
agree a modern UI is required to sell an application, our software looks
more like "Tonka Toys" (very bright, no cohesion in interface design,
stuff
is placed there for "ooo" factor).

A good looking UI is pretty important. Even I don't care to stare at
an ugly application all day. Many people called the Windows XP
interface 'Fisher Pricey,' but I like it more than the old plain Win9x
interface.
>Our applications are enterprise oriented ... they're built for large
corporations. I'm surprised no one in any meetings has snickered at the
GUI
yet. Perhaps customers don't care as much as I think they do?

Yet these enterprises at the end of the day are made up of people, and
people don't like looking at ugly interfaces all day. There's plenty
of studies showing people like pretty better, even if its not the best.
Just a few weeks ago on 20/20, they showed that pretty, less qualified
people were hired more often than highly qualified 'ugly' people. Just
human nature I supposed (if you believe they did an accurate study).

At any rate, its pretty easy to bring some cohesion to the interface
design; get someone on the AppStylist program. You can use that to
apply a consistent look to your application. The feel of your
application is still up to you.

I've replaced my standard DataGridViews with the Infragistics GridView
throughout my application, even if the DataGridView was doing fine...
but I'm trying to mimic the look and feel out Outlook 2003. In some
places, the 'prettier' interface also is more usable. For example, I'm
using the ExplorerBar in place of the older, non-standard menus and
empty workspace area.

HTH
Andy

Nov 20 '06 #7
"Andy" <an***@med-associates.comwrote in news:1164045035.232138.54650
@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:
At any rate, its pretty easy to bring some cohesion to the interface
design; get someone on the AppStylist program. You can use that to
apply a consistent look to your application. The feel of your
application is still up to you
AppStylists looks very interesting - it lokos like something we can give to
a Graphic Designer with UI design experience to colour our GUIs.

Thanks for the link!
Nov 20 '06 #8
Spam Catcher wrote:
AppStylists looks very interesting - it lokos like something we can give to
a Graphic Designer with UI design experience to colour our GUIs.

Thanks for the link!
SC,

Yup, thats one of their big selling points, and it makes perfect sense
to me. Its about time someone is trying to do for Forms apps what a
former employer had been doing in the Web world for years..

Andy

Nov 20 '06 #9
"Spam Catcher" <sp**********@rogers.comschrieb:
Can anyone recommend any books for User Interface Engineer for Windows
Forms application?
Official Guidelines for User Interface Developers and Designers
<URL:http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnwue/html/welcome.asp>

User Interface Design and Development
<URL:http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnanchor/html/anch_uidesigndev.asp>

Windows XP Visual Styles:

Windows XP - Guidelines for Applications
<URL:http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/hwdev/windowsxp/downloads/default.mspx>

--
M S Herfried K. Wagner
M V P <URL:http://dotnet.mvps.org/>
V B <URL:http://dotnet.mvps.org/dotnet/faqs/>

Nov 20 '06 #10

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