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Step 1: Know Your User or Client. To begin, an understanding of the most important system or website component, the user or client, must be obtained. Understanding people and what they do is a critical and often difficult and undervalued process. The first step in the design process involves identifying people’s innate and learned characteristics, and understanding how they affect the design.
Step 2: Understand the Business Function. A system or Web site must achieve the business objectives for which it is designed. To do so requires an understanding of the goals of the system and the functions and tasks performed.
Determining basic business functions, describing user activities through task analysis, understanding the user’s mental model, and developing a conceptual model of the system accomplish this. The system’s conceptual model must fit the user’s view of the tasks to be performed. Step 2 also addresses the establishment of design standards or style guides, and the definition of training and documentation needs.
Step 3: Understand the Principles of Good Interface and Screen Design. A well-designed screen must reflect the needs and capabilities of its users, be developed within the physical constraints imposed by the hardware on which it is displayed, and effectively utilize the capabilities of its controlling software.
Step 3involves understanding the capabilities of, and limitations imposed by, people, hardware, and software in designing screens and Web pages. It presents an enormous number of general design guidelines for organizing and presenting information to people.
Step 4: Develop System Menus and Navigation Schemes. Graphical systems and Websites are heavily menu-oriented. Menus are used to designate commands, properties that apply to an object, documents, and windows. To accomplish these goals, a variety of menu styles are available to choose from.
Step 4 involves understanding how menus are used, and selecting the proper kinds for specific tasks. The principles of menu design are described, and the purpose and proper usage of various menu types are detailed. In these step guidelines for Web site navigation are also presented. Topics addressed include the elements of Web navigation such as links, navigation aids, and search facilities.
Step 5: Select the Proper Kinds of Windows. Graphical screen design consists of a series of windows. Step 5 involves understanding how windows are used and selecting the proper kinds for the tasks. The elements of windows are described, and the purpose and proper usage of various types of windows are detailed. The step concludes with a discussion of Web browsers.
Step 6: Select the Proper Interaction Devices. In addition to the keyboard, a system or Web site might offer the user a mouse, trackball, joystick, graphics tablet, touchscreen, light pen, or some other similar device. Step 6 consists of identifying the characteristics and capabilities of these various control mechanisms and providing the proper ones for users and their tasks.
Step 7: Choose the Proper Screen-Based Controls. The designer is presented with an array of controls to choose from. Selecting the right one for the user and the task is often difficult. But as with interaction devices, making the right choice is critical to system success.
A proper fit between user and control will lead to fast, accurate performance. A poor fit will result in lower productivity, more errors, and often user dissatisfaction. Step 7 consists of identifying the characteristics and capabilities of these various screen-based controls and guidelines for providing the proper ones for users and their tasks.
Step 8: Write Clear Text and Messages. Creating text and messages in a form the user wants and understands is absolutely necessary for system acceptance and success. Rules for writing text and messages for systems and Web sites are presented.
Step 9: Provide Effective Feedback and Guidance and Assistance. Effective feedback and guidance and assistance are also necessary elements of good design. This step presents the guidelines for presenting to the user feedback concerning the system and its processing status. It also describes the system response times necessary to meet user needs. Step 9 also describes the kinds of guidance and assistance that should be included in a system and presents important design guidelines for various kinds.
Step 10: Provide Effective Internationalization and Accessibility. People from different cultures and people who speak different languages may use graphical systems and Websites. Guidelines for accommodating different cultures and languages in a design are presented. People with disabilities may also be users. Design considerations for these kinds of users are also described.
Step 11: Create Meaningful Graphics, Icons, and Images. Graphics, including icons and images, are an integral part of the design. Design guidelines for various types of graphics are presented. Icons are described, including a discussion of what kinds of icons exist, what influences their usability, and how they should be designed so they are meaningful and recognizable. The elements of the multimedia presentation are also reviewed. Guidelines presented include those for images, photographs, videos, drawings, animation, and audition.
Step 12: Choose the Proper Colors. Color, if used properly, can emphasize the logical organization of a screen, facilitate the discrimination of screen components, accentuate differences, and make displays more interesting. If used improperly, color can be distracting and cause visual fatigue, impairing a system’s usability. Step 12 involves understanding color and how to use it effectively on textual and statistical graphics screens, and in Web sites.
Step 13: Organize and Layout Windows and Pages. After determining all the components of a screen or page, the screen or page must be organized and its elements presented clearly and meaningfully. Proper presentation and organization will encourage the quick and accurate comprehension of information and the fastest possible execution of user tasks. Step 13 addresses the rules for laying out all screen elements and controls in the most effective manner possible.
Step 14: Test, Test, and Retest. A host of factors must be considered in the design and numerous trade-offs will have been made. Indeed, the design of some parts of the system may be based on skimpy data and simply reflect the most educated guess possible. Also, the implications for some design decisions may not be fully appreciated until the results can be seen.
Waiting until after a system has been implemented to uncover any deficiencies and make any design changes can be aggravating, costly, and time-consuming. To minimize these kinds of problems, interfaces and screens must be continually tested and refined as development proceeds.
Step 14 reviews the kinds of tests that can be performed, and discusses creating, evaluating, and modifying prototypes in an iterative manner. It also reviews final system testing and ongoing evaluations of working systems.