Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Giving You Fitts

Designing an application with Fitt's law in mind...

"One of the most well-understood and salient principles underlying the ergonomics of graphical user interface design is Fitts' Law.

Named for Paul Fitts, a psychologist at Ohio State University, Fitts' Law is a mathematical model of fine motor control which predicts how long it takes to move from one position to another as a function of the distance to and size of the target area. Papers outlining what became known as Fitts' Law were published in 1954 and 1964.

Fitts himself was an expert in aviation psychology, and he developed his research around more ergonomic layouts for cockpit instrumentation as a way of increasing aviation safety. You can read more about the early history and mathematics behind Fitts' Law on Wikipedia.

Fitts' model proved especially relevant to the early research on computer input devices performed in the late 1970s. Although Fitts' model was originally formulated to project how quickly a human could point at a physical button, it turns out that the same set of rules governs how quickly someone can target an area on the screen with a mouse cursor.

Although there's a great deal of subtlety to Fitts' research, what became known as Fitts' law is a fairly simple intuitive concept.
The further away a target is, the longer it takes to acquire it with the mouse.
The smaller a target is, the longer it takes to acquire it with the mouse.

The inverse of both statements is true as well (closer and bigger targets can be more quickly acquired.)"   (Continued via Jensen Harris)   [Usability Resources]

Hit the corners with Fitt's Law - Usability, User Interface Design

Hit the corners with Fitt's Law

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