hippo's n00b adventures

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Archive for the ‘Graphics Design’ Category

Heuristic Evaluation for Interface Designs

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At the moment I’m working on a major project for uni, which is a catalog and order database for telesales consultants of a department store (hypothetical scenario and company by the way).  I was part of the team for designing the user interface.

Being a total n00b (as usual) at Interface Design, I decided to go and do my own research in this area.  Then in one of my other subjects, Web Services Development, I came across a Heuristic Evaluation checklist, made by Jakob Nielsen.

This checklist evaluated an interface design’s usability according to a heuristic or a guideline principle.  I decided to put the 10 Recommended Heuristics into a table similar to this:

Guideline Principle Does it fulfil the principle? If not, how can we improve the design?
Visibility of system status
Match between system and the real world
User control and freedom
Consistency and standards
Error prevention
Recognition rather than recall
Flexibility and efficiency of use
Aesthetic and minimalist design
Help users recognise, diagnose and recover from errors
Help and documentation

(for a further description of the guideline principle, please visit the Heuristic Evaluation website).

Then use this table to quickly evaluate interfaces similar to what we wanted to achieve for our major project.  We evaluated existing Mail Order Databases and E-Commerce databases.

After our prototype for the database was completed, we decided to use the same checklist to evaluate our own design.  We got other members of the team to fill out this checklist.

We had a simple yet effective method of evaluating our prototype’s usability.  Try it yourself next time you have to design a prototype!  For more info, please visit the Heuristic Evaluation website.

Now that task has been completed, I am currently in the process of working on end user documentation.  Perhaps a future blog post on that as well? xD

GIMP/IOGraph experimentation

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So lately I’ve been playing around fun apps – one of them is IOGraph.  It’s a Java app which records your mouse movements and turns them into “art”.  It gives you an interesting perspective on your typical computer routine.

Once you stop recording, you can save the image on your computer.  You can do whatever you want with it – make it your desktop wallpaper, post it on your blog/Twitter/Facebook, etc.

I also used GIMP, an open source and totally free graphics program and a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop.  Years ago I wouldn’t have used it – I found it wasn’t as user-friendly as PS, Paint Shop Pro or even Macromedia Fireworks (do they still make that nowadays?).  Thankfully it’s improved, saving poor uni students like me.  You can even add really cool plugins to enhance your work in GIMP – I’ll try and review one in a future blog post.

A few days ago I used IOGraph to record the mousepaths used in my mockup design work.  I thought the end result was worth experimenting in GIMP.

What I did was use the “Sunset” gradient as a separate layer on top of the original picture, then played around with the Blending Modes (I think I settled on “Grain Merge”).  I found that the background was a bit too “chaotic” as a desktop wallpaper (it clashed with icons) so then I added a white layer on top and reduced its opacity (to be honest, it might still be too “chaotic”, but try it). This is the result below (click on it for a full picture):

GIMP/IOGraph Experimentation

Et voila – a free, decent, “arty” wallpaper using free programs.

Written by Hippo

July 19, 2011 at 4:46 am