The lonliness of the Graphical User Interface designer...

Melissa Silvestre silvest at
Sun Dec 3 02:15:27 EST 1995

On Fri, 1 Dec 1995, Michael Alan Dorman wrote:
> So -- I've read _The Visual Display of Quantitative Information_, I've
> read _Tog on Interface_. It shouldn't be a big deal -- I try to do what
> seems to make sense.

I find it really ironic that this message was sent just about the time I
sent the message about programmers thinking they know what's easy, and was told
I went too far.

On a less flaming and more professional note, I got to see OCLC's special
lab for testing usability of software a couple of years ago when the ASIS
was held in Ohio. It was very sophisticated in terms of monitoring the reactions
of users to various software packages. In particular, the tour guide
explained all
about how it was used with high school students to develop FirstSearch.
There are separate cameras monitoring the person's face, the screen,
 and what keys the user presses on the keyboard, for instance, 
and trained researchers (I think they may have had some psychology training) 
were taping and analyzing every motion. 
Not that I think FirstSearch is a perfect product by any means, but as a
this sure beats doing what seems to make sense.
I think OCLC's FirstSearch is a great example of a company trying to do
design right. They started off testing carefully in the early stages, and they
are still making significant changes (later versions) as actual customer
gets reported to them.

No, they aren't paying me! :-)

I realize that not every software development project is being conducted on
such a large scale as OCLC, but certainly the major tools of our profession
(opacs, major cdrom products like Silverplatter and ISI, etc.) has enough
financial backing to make these kinds of techniques feasible.

Melissa Silvestre    silvest at   fax: (314) 516-5853
University of Missouri-St. Louis, Thomas Jefferson Library
My words are my own and do not reflect the view of UM-St. Louis

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