Saturday, May 19, 2007

Designing LabVIEW User Interfaces with Hand-Drawn Paper Mock-Ups

The benefits of paper mock-ups ...

"User interface may be the one most important part of your LabVIEW application. It’s the only part of the application the end-user is directly in contact with. Still user interface is often the part of a LabVIEW application developers spend the least time with in the development process. Does LabVIEW make creating decent user interfaces too easy to be ignored in the design phase?

User roles
Let’s concentrate on graphical user interfaces. What should a user interface design process be like? The user interface design shoud start with determinig the different user roles of your application. For example you may need to have a different kind of user interface for the end-users as you do for the administrators.

Views of your user interface
After you have indetified different user roles you should list the main tasks a users in different user roles uses your application. It’s important not to go into too much detail, just concentrate on the most important tasks. The number of main tasks depends on your application. Determine what kind of views do you need in your application to allow users to do these main taks you have identified. You may need multiple different views such as monitoring view and configuration view and visualization view. Depending on your application, these views may be separate parts of a single window, different states of a window or separate windows.

Paper mock-ups
Once you have determined the main views you’ll need in your application you should not hurry to your computer and start coding. Instead you should sit down, take you pen and paper and start drawing mock-ups of your user interface. A mock-up is a model of you user interface. With pen and paper it’s easy and fast to try different variations of component locations. Also the drawing process helps you to concentrate on the important parts and not to go into too much detail too soon. You identified different main tasks the users need to do with your application. Go trough these tasks with your paper mock-ups. If there are major state changes in your views, don’t spare the paper. Try to cover all important views of you application and all important states of different views. Play around, all time consumed in the paper user interface design phase is well spend."    (Continued via EXPRESSIONFLOW)    [Usability Resources]

Paper Mock-up - Usability, User Interface Design

Paper Mock-up

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