Need For Usable Interface in Rapid Prototyping Human Interface Design
Typical computer user was an engineer or programmer – someone quite comfortable with latest technologies. To non computer users, mastering technologies was like conquering Mongolian Genghis khan – only the hardy returned. User friendly was not yet a term used to describe computer software. There were so many other disturbing factors to be concerned with (e.g. system crashes, intermittent bugs, poor performance) that usability was, at most, a subordinate concern.
Adroit technologies and marketers envisioned the role a user friendly interface could play in gaining market advantage and used it effectively to sell their products.
The rise of Apple Computer as a blue-chip computer maker had much to do with Apple’s commitment to providing an operating system end user interface that was, and still is, graphically appealing, functionally consistent, and metaphorically intuitive. User friendly user interfaces continue to sell machines, and even mainframe manufacturers recognize this.
User friendly graphical interfaces, a boon to users, have often been the bane of programmers. It is hard to design and code a graphical interface and harder still to design one that successfully meets the needs of the end users. This is not to say there are not design guidelines. There are plenty of them. But most of them are long on rules for picking colours, word capitalization rules, and other trivial matters and short on practical guidelines for effectively designing user interfaces that end users will find usable.
There is a desperate need for techniques that will allow software to be designed more appropriately and written more quickly. Each release of a product is expected to have more function to match competitors, and customers expect easy-to-use programs with graphical interfaces, on-line help systems, wizards, and other features. Many commercial applications have over a million lines of code. The search is on for techniques that will improve the efficiency of the software development process.
With many companies striving to bring out higher quality software on shorter schedules, rapid prototyping makes these goals possible. Rapid Prototyping can help ensure that a program meets the customers needs and that developers thoroughly understand requirements before the first line of code is written. It can forestall numerous changes to a program during development.