Thinking Out of the Box

User Interface Prototypes in Usability Engineering

Markus Weber
Markus Weber
August 25th, 2009

User interface prototyping is an essential activity in the field of user interface design that provides a basis for continuous evaluation and improvement of a to-be-designed user interface. In usability engineering, the focus of using prototypes lies on evaluating the usability of intended approaches and on generating concrete recommendations for advancing an interface design. While doing so, there are several aspects to keep in mind in order to maximize the efficiency of prototype use for usability engineering. Three issues are described in this post.

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Java in the Mobile Market: Google Android vs. JavaFX – Part 1: General Market Trends

Florian Moritz

Centigrade specializes in creating GUIs, in many projects with a particular focus on the implementation of Java Swing based GUIs for desktop applications. With the advancement of the mobile market, it is an obvious step for Centigrade to also have a look at Java based mobile GUIs. This article gives an overview on the mobile market today and includes a comparison of the two major Java players in that sector, Google Android and JavaFX.
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Modern User Interface Design Tools – Part 3: Expression Blend vs. Flex Builder

David Patrizi
David Patrizi
June 26th, 2009

In the previous part I took a closer look at how and to what extent Microsoft Expression Blend and Adobe Flex Builder offer pixel-graphics and vector-graphics tools to enable GUI designers to create modern user interfaces. In addition I outlined the concept of 9-Slice-Scaling, a method to make pixel graphics scalable without any quality loss. In this last part of the series I’m going to give a short example of how the concept is implemented in both tools and finally provide an overall comparison of the two tools to point out their strengths and weaknesses.

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Resolution Independent Icon Design – Part 4: Modern Tool Support

Thomas Immich

The previous part of this series outlined why it is not possible to just create one single vector-based instance of an icon to scale it to any desired size. This part raises the question, on the one hand, what tool support would need to exist in the future in order to serve an icon designer’s everyday work adequately and, on the other hand, what tool support already exists to make his life at least a bit easier in the present times.
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Modern User Interface Design Tools – Part 2: Graphical Approach of GUI Design Tools

David Patrizi

In the first part of this series I described how user interface design tools bring together developers and designers in a seamless workflow and gave an overview of the technical environments of Adobe’s and Microsoft’s tools in that area.

In this article, I am going to focus on the use of pixel and vector graphics in design, deal with some of the pros and cons of the two graphic types and finally give an introduction on the scaling of bitmap GUI components.

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Modern User Interface Design Tools – Part 1: Design Marries Development

David Patrizi

This series of blog articles deals with the use of GUI development tools by designers and developers, with a particular focus on Microsoft Expression Blend and Adobe Flex Builder.

In the first part, I will have a look at the cooperation between designers and developers during GUI creation, describe some issues that can affect their collaboration and point out how GUI design tools can improve the overall design and development workflow.

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Stretching Imagination: Wireframes and Visual Design

Markus Weber

Wireframes are an essential tool in the usability engineer’s toolbox. They can be created easily and support communication regarding fundamental layout and interaction design. Usually, little to no resources are spent on visually “styling” the wireframe in order to efficiently focus on the fundamentals without investing too much effort in visual details that are likely to undergo significant visual changes later.

If members of the design team / stakeholders lack experience with using wireframes, certain problems can occur that may impair a user interface design project, two of which shall briefly be described.

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“Can’t we all just get along?” – On the Cooperation Between Usability Engineers and Software Developers

Markus Weber

It is still a common complaint uttered by usability professionals that organizations in general and software developers in particular “just don’t get” usability engineering. They are frustrated because they have all good intentions to provide support for creating user-friendly systems but the reactions they get are reserved at best and developers simply don’t buy into the whole usability engineering process.

So, whose fault is it? Who is it that is just not getting it?

As often in life, it takes two and an occasion to create a problem. Let’s have a closer look.
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“Make it Like the iPhone” or: Be Careful What You Wish For

Markus Weber
Markus Weber
November 17th, 2008

These days, clients often mention the iPhone when describing their thoughts and goals concerning usability and user interface design, e.g. during project kickoffs.

On the one hand it’s nice to see user interface design and usability getting a good rap through the iPhone and more people realizing that the user interface is more than just the topping on the cake, but still, whenever those “Make it like the iPhone” statements are uttered, there are some things to discuss to set expectations appropriately.

First, it should be clarified that such a statement can be interpreted in two different ways. For one, it can mean “Make the user interface as easy to use and aesthetical as the iPhone’s”, which usually is the intended meaning. But it can also be interpreted as “Conduct the user interface design project in a way similar to the iPhone creation”, which is usually not the intended meaning, even though those two aspects are intimately intertwined.

Let’s have a look at both aspects.

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