Coordinating User Interfaces for Consistency

Jakob Nielsen , 1989

The core principles of interface consistency are as persistent and as valuable as when this book was first published. Contributed chapters include details on many methods for seeking and enforcing consistency, along with bottom-line analyses of its benefits and some warnings about its possible dangers. Includes Bruce Tognazzini's classic chapter on how he evangelized consistency for the Macintosh. Most of what you'll learn applies equally to hardware and software development, and all of it holds real benefits for both your organization and your users. 

Edited by Jakob Nielsen, originally published by Academic Press, Boston, MA, 1989 (ISBN 0-12-518400-X). Reprint edition 2002 published by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco, ISBN 1-55860-821-4.

Table of Contents

Preface to the reprint edition

  1. Executive Summary: Coordinating User Interfaces for Consistency
    • Jakob Nielsen, Technical University of Denmark
    • Advantages of Consistency
    • User Advantages
    • User Company Advantages
    • Vendor Company Advantages
    • The Dangers of Consistency
    • Dimensions of Consistency
    • Methods for Consistency
  2. The Dimensions of Consistency
    • Wendy Kellogg, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
    • The Many Faces of Consistency
    • Describing Interfaces Along the Dimensions of Consistency
    • Evaluating Designs for Consistency
    • Implications for Creating Consistency through CUIs
  3. A Cost Benefit Analysis for Corporate User Interface Standards
    • Daniel J. Rosenberg, Ashton-Tate
    • The Scope of a Corporate User Interface Look and Feel
    • The Benefits and the Costs
    • Specific Development Costs
    • Data on UI Costs
    • Calculating the Financial Break Point
    • Marketplace Variables
    • Business Issues
    • Technical Factors
    • Legal Issues
  4. Coordinating Consistency of User Interfaces, Code, Online Help, and Documentation with Multilingual/Multitarget Software Specification
    • Gary Perlman, The Ohio State University
    • Problems with User-Oriented Targets
    • Examples
    • Experimental Design Specification
    • Data Bases of Bibliographic References
    • Data Analysis System Interface
    • Command-Line-Option Parser-Generator
    • Electronic Survey System
    • Properties of Multilingual/Multitarget Programs
    • Cost/Benefit Analysis
  5. Achieving Consistency for the Macintosh
    • Bruce Tognazzini, Apple Computer
    • Corporate Commitment
    • Developer Community Commitment
    • Guidelines
    • History
    • About Our Guidelines
    • About Our Developer's Guidelines
    • Key Applications
    • Flexibility
    • Promotion
    • The Users
    • The Dealers
    • The Press
    • Full Hardware Support
    • Full Software Support
    • Expansion
    • Quality-Assurance
    • User Testing
  6. Developing the XUI Style
    • Michael Good, Digital Equipment Corporation
    • User Interface Style Guide
    • Toolkit
    • Consulting and Design
    • Electronic Communication
    • Electronic Conferencing
    • Conferencing and Iterative Design
    • Developing a New Interface Style
    • Sharing Early Prototypes
    • User Interface Trade Fairs
    • Conclusion
    • Corporate Commitment
    • Contextual Interface Design
  7. Consistency as Process
    • Richard Wolf, Lotus Development Corporation
    • Aspects of Consistency
    • Self Consistency
    • Consistency Across Applications
    • Consistency Over Time
    • Consistency with a Platform
    • Consistency Across Platforms
    • Conflicts
    • User Interface Architect
    • Individual Developer
    • Organization
  8. New Ways to Consistent Interfaces
    • Ianne Koritzinsky, GE Medical Systems
    • Defining a More Consistent Interface
    • Concept Development
    • Keeping the Appearance Constant
    • Develop Consistent Dialog
    • Interaction Mechanisms can be Habit-Forming
    • Tools for Defining a Consistent Interface
    • A Simple Design
    • The Style Guide
    • Call Back User Code
    • A Virtual Interface
    • Object-Oriented Programming
    • Graphically Generating the Interface Code
    • Political Support
    • Lining Up Management Support
    • Engineering Ownership
    • Incorporating it in the Culture
    • Sharing the Vision
    • Sustaining the Vision
    • Consistent Practices
  9. Tools for Generating Consistent User Interfaces
    • Charlie Wiecha, William Bennett, Stephen Boies, and John Gould, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
    • Overview of ITS Tools
    • Role of the Application Expert
    • Role of the Application Programmer
    • Role of the Style Expert
    • Role of the Style Programmer
    • Structure of an Application Developed Using ITS Tools
    • How the ITS Architecture Promotes Interface Consistency
    • Beyond Toolkits
    • Beyond Traditional User Interface Management Systems
    • Generate Interfaces Automatically
    • Rules Go Beyond Direct Manipulation Interface Editors
    • Tools for the Application Expert and Programmer
    • Data Types
    • Dialog Content is Defined Using Markup Tags
    • Employee Browser Dialog
    • Applications are Structured as a Collection of Functions
    • Applications Communicate with the Dialog Manager Through Tables
    • Transfer of Control Between Functions
    • Action-Object and Object-Action Interactions
    • Tools for the Style Expert and Programmer
    • Design Rules in the ITS Architecture
    • The Application Expert
    • The Style Expert
    • The Application Programmer
    • The Style Programmer
    • Extending Toolkits to Support Consistency
    • Include Application Data Types
    • Experience to Date
  10. Bibliography



The authors' affiliations are given as they were in 1989. Many have since become user experience leaders in other companies.

Also note that even though this book was written in 1989, most of the chapters are still right on target and describe the main issues in UI consistency and the best methods for promoting consistency. Most of the issues are organizational and relate to design rather than technology.

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