Shneiderman explains and presents a broad spectrum
of guidelines, strategies and issues of interface design. I believe
he offers too many guidelines to discuss in this brief paper. But, I
believe his book offers a novice of interface design, a look at where
the field has gone and where it is headed. Shneiderman talks about human
factors of interactive software, theories, principles and guidelines.
Also, he offers an in-depth discussion of managing the design processes
and, in addition, discusses expert reviews, usability testing, surveys,
and how to continue assessments. He discusses software tools, direct
manipulation and virtual environments. Additionally, Shneiderman elaborates
on and discusses menus selection, form fillin, and dialog boxes along
with command and natural languages. Furthermore, he discusses interaction
devices, response time and display rate, presentation styles: balancing
function and fashion, along with discussions about printed manuals,
online help and tutorials. Also, he discusses multiple-window strategies,
computer-supported cooperative work, and information search and visualization.
I consider Dr. Shneiderman’s delivery on hypermedia and the World Wide
Web by far one of the most interesting topics. Lastly, he projects the
future of societal and individual impacts of user interfaces.
Strengths of the Book
I believe the Shneiderman book is strong in the
areas of theoretical and empirical research; its historical perspective
has great value and it has up to date information. For theoretical research,
Shneiderman discusses cognitive and perceptual abilities. He references
the journal Ergonomics’ abstracts and its classification of human
cognitive processes and the set of factors affecting perceptual and
motor performance. I believe the author reaches the forefront of human-computer
interaction. This book seems to be a cumulative and historical presentation
on human-computer interaction. I believe this book is current because
it offers guidelines and suggestions for developers of World Wide Web
applications. It discusses not only web site development guidelines,
but discusses and offers suggestions and guidelines for improvement
of search engines.
Weaknesses of the Book
However, I believe this book has several weaknesses, which include
the discussion of the Object Actions Interface (OAI) model and the authors
presentation for designing interfaces as metaphors. I believe these
topics are one of the same. I believe it may be a shortcoming on my
part, but I am having difficulty in understanding and accepting this
process of decomposing objects and actions from metaphors.
Lessons to be Applied to User Interface Design
I believe Dr. Ben Shneiderman has much to
offer on interface design. The numerous guidelines he offers are practical
and make sense. In his book, he offers eight golden rules of interface
design. The golden rules are strive for consistency, enable frequent
users to use shortcuts, offer informative feedback, design dialogs to
yield closure, offer error prevention and simple error handling, permit
easy reversal of actions, support internal locus of control and reduce
short-term memory load. I believe that validation and refinement of
these golden rules would be advantageous.
Recommendations to Others
This book, Designing the User Interface:
Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction would be a great
addition to any student of interface design library. Also, this book
is a good reference tool. The references in Chapter 1 of the Research
Agenda are excellent. This book is worth its price just for the references
Shneiderman, B. (1998). Designing the User
Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction.
(3rd ed. ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley.