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InfoWorld: What makes a useful user interface?

Oct 29, 2000, 16:28 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ana Orubeondo, Lori Mitchell)

"Lori: ...I believe we will go through a period of network-based UIs called Webtops before post-PC devices become widely used. Webtops are much closer to viability than the devices you mention. ... One example of this metaphor can be found in implementing Linux desktops that use a browser to access the aforementioned applications, including Sun's StarOffice on the network. This metaphor frees end-users from traditional client/server GUIs, decreases learning curves, and reduces end-user computing costs."

"Ana: The installation, configuration, and setup process should be easy for all users. But, Lori, I have to disagree with you about approach. I find some wizards and setup tools to be annoying, painful, and time-consuming. Advanced users and experienced administrators should be able to bypass the wizard-based approach should they so choose. A large number of configuration options don't normally need to be changed. Besides, experienced users will have the skills and knowledge to make the proper modifications.

In my opinion, most Linux setups do a nice job of accounting for both new and experienced users. I like having the flexibility to choose advanced setup and configuration so that I can avoid annoying routines that waste my time. However, less experienced users should also have the flexibility to choose setup and configuration options that do a bit more hand-holding."

"Ana: ... I'd like an interface that is specifically personalized for my needs. As an end-user, I shouldn't have to care if it's Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS/2, Macintosh, or some other platform. What matters the most to me is having the right tools to do the job. An interface that is customized by the end-user will surely be more effective than the traditional graphical user interfaces we currently use."

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