Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Bull's-Eye: A Framework for Web Application User Interface Design Guidelines

Creating a framework for user interface guidelines ...

"A multi-leveled framework for user interface design guidelines of Web applications is presented. User interface design guidelines tend to provide information that is either too general, so that it is difficult to apply to a specific case, or too specific, so that a wide range of products is not supported. The framework presented is unique in that it provides a bridge between the two extremes. It has been dubbed the ‘Bull’s-Eye’ due to its five layers, represented as concentric circles. The center of the Bull’s-Eye is the Component layer, followed by Page Templates, Page Flows, Interface Models and Patterns, and Overarching Features and Principles. To support this approach,requirements were gathered from user interface designers,product managers, UI developers, and product developers.

Also, usability testing of the guidelines occurred on several levels, from broad guideline tests to more specific product tests. The guidelines and lessons learned are intended to serve as examples for others seeking to design families of Web applications or Web sites.

The Challenges

We faced challenges common to many companies attempting to create user interface design guidelines for a family of Web applications. We were attempting to design for multiple, Web-based software products across a variety of user profiles – with only desktop application guidelines as our reference point. We knew technological limitations would also impact our guidelines as we attempted to make them accessible, cross-browser compatible, and localizable.

This paper will discuss the problems we faced, often shared by other companies, and how we overcame them.

Our first challenge was the state of Oracle’s existing UI guidelines. They were focused on Java, not HTML, and were at the widget level, and so did not provide use-cases,multiple options, higher level component combinations (i.e., templates or flows), nor contextual examples to illustrate usage. Our attempts to use other guidelines as exemplars left our guidelines too broad to implement specifically and consistently across products."    (Continued via uiGarden)    [Usability Resources]

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