Introduction The visual nature of AmigaOS has always encouraged the use of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) as primary means of interaction between the user and software. It did take some time to define and refine the direction in which the Amiga GUI-programming API was heading, including a complete false start (the 1.x Intuition) and a cul-de-sac called GadTools. Surely the programmer is now much better-off with BOOPSI/ReAction; yet the power, sophistication and comfort of the toolkit does not guarantee anything. The quality of the GUI is determined by the quality of its designer’s thinking – the toolkit itself is a secondary factor. You can make a lousy piece of GUI with ReAction, MUI or Zune just the same! This article focuses on common GUI design problems because even the greatest features will come to nothing if the application behaves or speaks rubbish. I’ve picked fifteen particular problems in five problem areas; I may add some more in the future if there is interest. The article is based on a rather extensive research and distills material from many sources, of which the most helpful (and the least academic) is probably Jeff Johnson’s GUI Bloopers 2.0, a book which I can recommend as a perfect reference material for further study. GUIs are designed for (and by) humans, so the quality of the user interface can be perceived in a subjective way. Rather than preaching what is good and what is bad (I have no authority to do that anyway), this article tries to explain why a particular solution may degrade user experience or hamper workflow. To illustrate my point, I use examples from real Amiga software wherever possible. This is not to criticize or deride the individual program authors, so don't get offended if you find your software being picked at here. The idea is to help you improve your software, much as reader feedback will help me improve this article. PROBLEM AREA 1: Naming and text-related bloopers 1. Excess use of jargon Despite all the modern efforts towards "user-friendliness", you cannot avoid using jargon in software: some kind of specialist knowledge will always be assumed. There are two types of jargon typically found in Amiga GUIs:
- technical jargon ("technicalese"), which refers to computing stuff in general, and
- Amiga jargon ("Amigalese"), which specifically describes AmigaOS internals and concepts.
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