[HIG] REVIEW: Chip Alexander

Attached are the detailed review comments of Chip Alexander (Sun User
Experience group).


(Issues in order of severity, then by appearance in the document)
Chip Alexander, Sun Microsystems User Experience Group

In general, I thought this was a very good document.  Nothing I wrote
below is a fundamental idea disagreement, which for a document this big
is quite impressive.

I thought chapter 2 was particularly well done.  It has the right
concepts, and expresses them well.  With the one exception of finding a
5-cent word to replace sacrosanct (protected or guarded would be better,
perhaps), I wouldn't change a thing.

I was very glad to see your guidelines include a Quit command and a
Close All command.  I had a strong disagreement with the "Designing
Gnome for Humans" document's contradictory viewpoint.

Suggested Additions

4.8:    My suggestion for completing the description of an alert: An
alert is a modal secondary window for communicating important transient
information to the user, which requires a response, confirmation, or
simply acknowledgement.

4.8.3:  Add not to use a button marked Cancel in an alert confirming
canceling an operation.  This just becomes too confusing to the user
whether to press OK to confirm canceling or to press cancel to confirm

4.8.3   Discuss default buttons.  Within that, I recommend the JLF
guideline that there is no default button if the action is destructive. 
(This is much better than changing the default button to Cancel, since
if you press return without noticing the default button is Cancel this
time, you think you have done it but haven't.)

4.10:   Consider providing a "Last" button as Java does, which moves you
to the last page of input to check all the defaults are what you wanted,
before taking action.

5.5:    Also mention to always use the checkbox or radio button method,
not changing the name to the opposite state of what is currently shown
(such as run mode / edit mode).

7.5     Mention that these are often referred to as dropdown lists, to
help users make the leap to the name which Gnome uses.

9.2.5   Add in to be careful not to use things that look different in
other cultures and nations, such as mailboxes, taxis, etc.

And somewhere in the document...

A recommendation should be made regarding left-aligning or
right-aligning labels.  I recommend following the JLF guidelines here
and left-aligning, but mostly recommend we say something.

For online help, note that you should go to the lowest level of context
possible, relative to where the user requested help.  Dropping the user
at the top of a help system table of contents when they requested help
on a specific page or dialog is maddening. 

In Keyboard Access, note that Home should go to the beginning of a line,
End to the end of a line, Ctrl-Home to the start of the text block, and
Ctrl-End to the end of the text block.

Note not to end checkbox labels with a "?".

Add that one should usually allow resizing a window, and to always allow
resizing if text could ever get truncated in length or if there is any
scrolling of any sort.  This allows the user to enlarge the dialog to
see more information.

Suggested Changes

4.8:    What's the problem with "do not show this again" checkboxes?  As
long as it is easy to find the settings for turning them back on again
(such as in the preferences settings), I have always found them a
helpful nuisance-eliminator.  For example, I should be able to elect to
not be told every time a web page has a mixture of secure and insecure
items -- even if some other people might want to know this - and I
should not have to go searching through preferences to find out how to
turn it off.  Of course if the user can never find the way to turn it
back on again due to it being omitted from or badly placed in the
preferences, that is a different issue.

4.8.2:  I think you need another type of alert, for questions.  Some
dialogs are not regarding destroying user data or creating a security
risk.  Sometimes there is just an unavoidable ambiguity in what the user
which requires a question for clarification.  For example, to insert
cells in the spreadsheet, move the displaced cells to the right or down?

8.3:    This seems too general, and probably needs to be qualified (or
removed).  The way it is written, it suggests that any time I can group
down a list of options, I should.  I certainly shouldn't have two fields
for state when entering an address, one to choose which general region
of the country and then which state within it.   Similarly, I shouldn't
have two fields to select color, one to set that the color I want is in
the teal family, and then another to select which exact teal.  Perhaps
the problem is that the 7 +/-2 issue mostly has to do with memory, as
opposed to choosing from things which are right there in front of you in
a list. 

10.2.1  Take Enter out of the exception list, only not having a shortcut
for Cancel -- in fact specifically note that an access key should be
placed on the default button if the dialog contains a multi-line text
field.  Control+Enter is something normal users will never discover or
get used to, and it is very easy to instead provide a mnemonic on the
default button.  This probably affects the paragraph above this one as
well.  (This is different from what is currently in the JLF, but only
because it is now too late to change the JLF.  It is not too late for

11.1.1  Add detail about the level of technical knowledge of the user. 
Having user profiles not drift from novices to power users depending on
the discussion at hand is very important.  If there is a range of user
knowledge, specifically have one of each type of user to make sure both
will be satisfied in all design issues.

Minor Issues (wording, printing errors, etc.)

5.2:    When saying that menus and menu items do not disappear, specify
that they are disabled.  This is made clear later, but it would help to
have it right away (especially for those who read only that part!)

8.1:    The figure shown (8-1) ends up running off the page to the right
when printed..  It should be re-laid out so it wraps and keeps all the
examples visible. 

8.3     This should say either "option groups and radio buttons" or
control groups such as radio buttons".  As it is, it doesn't make sense.

8.5     Figure 8-2 gets messed up in printing.  The images of the left
column cover some of the text of the right column.

And of course you can add my name now to the reviewers - Chip Alexander 

CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group
http://www.sun.ie                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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