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Designing for People: Communicating Effectively with Interaction
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Designing for People: Communicating Effectively with Interaction


Presentation to the Lone Star chapter of STC in March 2002.

Presentation to the Lone Star chapter of STC in March 2002.

Published in Design , Technology , Education
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  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames
  • © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames


  • 1. © 1 9 9 5-20 0 2 Andre a L. Am e sDesigning forPeople!Communicating Effectivelywith InteractionAndrea L. AmesSenior Information Developer, IBMSTC Candidate for Second VicePresidentCertificate Coordinator and Instructor,University of CA Extension, Santa CruzAssociate Fellow andAssistant to the President for Recognition,Society for Technical Communication
  • 2. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames2About Andrea Technical communicator since 1983 Online information and human-computer interaction focussince 1989 Areas of expertise Information architecture and design and interaction design User-centered design and development process and start-to-finishusability—analysis, design, testing Focus: Software product user interfaces and interactiveinformation systems, including Web Coordinator of two University of California, Santa Cruz,Extension technical communication certificates Associate Fellow and Member of Society for TechnicalCommunication (STC) Board of Directors
  • 3. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames3Discussion Topics Why technical communicators (should) careabout interaction Characteristics of interaction Common interaction mechanisms Things that bug us Skills and knowledge technicalcommunicators need to design effectiveinteraction Resources
  • 4. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames4Why You Should Be Concerned WithInteractionShouldn’t be a big surprise—you’veprobably been concerned withinteraction for a long timeCommunicates the organization,access mechanisms, andmeaning of textDevelop structures to make this easierTech Communication and Interaction
  • 5. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames5Interaction CharacteristicsThink of it as a conversationThink of it as information/assistanceThink of it as organization (navigation)Characteristics of Interaction
  • 6. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames6Thinkof Interaction As Conversation Make it useful, helpful, and “polite” Alan Cooper, The Inm ate s are Running theAsylum H. Paul Grice (psychologist), regardingconversation Quality: Say true things Quantity: Say neither too muchnor too little Relevance: Say things that relate tothe topic at hand Clarity: Say things clearly and wellCharacteristics of Interaction † Conversation
  • 7. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames7Thinkof Interaction as InformationHelping users to minimize errorBeing visible—helping users to makeinformed choices about where to go orwhat to do nextProviding responses, so users knowthey did the right thing and areencouraged to continueCharacteristics of Interaction † Information
  • 8. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames8Thinkof Interaction as Organization:NavigationAvoid it (the fewer clicks, the better)Provides a way for users to makechoices, refining contentSuggests structure andorganization; closelylinked with informationarchitecture and filearchitectureCharacteristics of Interaction † Organization/Navigation
  • 9. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames9Navigation Provides ContextTells me:Where I am and possibly how I got hereWhere I’ve been and how I can getbackWhere I can go from here and how I canget thereHow to get back to the beginningCharacteristics of Interaction † Organization/Navigation
  • 10. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames10Common Interaction Mechanisms Navigation mechanisms Hiding and showing—or expanding andcontracting—text Form elements “Pop-ups” or openinga new window Non-scrolling regions Coaches, show-mes, and demonstrationsInteraction Mechanisms
  • 11. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames11Navigation Mechanisms “Traditional” access methods: TOCs,indexes Rollovers * Controlling the appearance of links * Pull-down or pop-up menus Menus and button bars **Visio Help TOCInteraction Mechanisms † For Navigation
  • 12. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames12Hiding/Showing, Expanding/CollapsingResolves some topic-length issuesHides details until they’re neededCombines information for printing*Visio Help “Create Basic Flowchart”Interaction Mechanisms † Expanding/Collapsing Text
  • 13. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames13FormElements Take advantage of GUIstandards/heuristics May be very familiar tousers of particularsoftware/OS platform(e.g., Mac or Windows) May no t be familiarInteraction Mechanisms † FormElements
  • 14. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames14Pop-Ups orOpening a New WindowHelps manage screen real estateIndicates sub-processesHides details, background, etc., untilwanted/neededDefinitions*Visio Help “Creating Basic Flowchart”Interaction Mechanisms † Opening New Windows
  • 15. (c) 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames15Non-Scrolling RegionsSupports navigationKeeps menus, etc., persistent (alwaysvisible)*Visio Help “Getting StartedInteraction Mechanisms † Non-Scrolling Regions
  • 16. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames16Coaches, Show-mes,and DemonstrationsLink together product and helpTypically very tightly integrated, butcan be more like self-running demoGive user control over all aspects ofrunning/not running*Visio Help Getting StartedInteraction Mechanisms † Coaches, Show-mes, Demos
  • 17. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames17Don’t Do Things That Bug UsBlinkingGratuitous animation and multimediaRude, obscure, andinconsistent behaviorInterrupting tasksThings That Bug Us
  • 18. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames18More Things That Bug Us “Too much” scrolling “Too many” clicks Frames Might take up screen real estate Might slow display speed Don’t fit with page/screen model—confusing Add layer of complexity Can’t bookmark content pages within framesThings That Bug Us
  • 19. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames19Where to Go FromHere Cognitive psychology (how people learnand remember), human factors, usability,and user-centered development processes Audience analysis Info rm e d design Validation/evaluation (including usability testing) Information architecture and design,modular writing, and minimalism Visual design User-interface designSkills and Knowledge
  • 20. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames20Learning the Skills andGaining the Knowledge Bentley College online courses in informationdesign: te : Mo st o f the big /we ll-kno wn scho o ls no w have o nlinepro g ram s: Te xas Te ch, Univ. o f Washing to n, RPI, Me rce rUnive rsity, e tc. Christchurch (NZ) Polytechnic Instituteof Technology’s Graduate Diploma ofTechnical HTML Writers Guide (HWG) online courses inWeb-based technologies: University of California, Los Angeles, Extensionprogram in technical communication:www.unex.ucla.eduResources
  • 21. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames21Print Books and Articles Beyer, Hugh and Karen Holtzblatt,Co nte xtualDe sig n: ACusto m e r-Ce nte re dAppro ach to Syste m s De sig n Constantine, Larry and LucyLockwood, So ftware fo r Use :APracticalGuide to the Mo de lsand Me tho ds o f Usag e -Ce nte re d De sig n Coe, Marlana, Hum an Facto rs fo r Te chnicalCo m m unicato rsResources
  • 22. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames22Print Books and Articles (cont.) Cooper, Alan, The Inm ate s Are Running theAsylum Farkas, David and Jean, Principle s o fWe bsite De sig n Fleming, Jennifer, We b Navig atio n Hackos, JoAnn and Janice (Ginny) Redish,Use r and Task Analysis fo r Inte rface De sig n Johnson, Jeff, GUIBlo o pe rs: Do n’ts andDo s fo r So ftware De ve lo pe rs and We bDe sig ne rs. Krug, Steve, Do n’t Make Me ThinkResources
  • 23. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames23Print Books and Articles (cont.) Nielsen, Jakob, De sig ning We b Usability:The Practice o f Sim plicity Normal, Don, The De sig n o f Eve rydayThing s and The Psycho lo g y o f Eve rydayThing s Price, Jonathan, Writing We b Te xt Raskin, Jef, The Hum ane Inte rface Redish, Janice C. and Judith A. Ramey,“Special section: Measuring the value addedby professional technical communicators.”Te chnicalCo m m unicatio n, 42(1), 2/95Resources
  • 24. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames24Web Sites (coming soon!) Andrea Ames’TechCommResource Ask Tog: C|Net Builder’s cool tools: IBM’s Ease of Use site: Jakob Nielsen’s site: Interaction DesignWebzine: Usable Web: www.usableweb.comResources
  • 25. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames25Professional OrganizationsACM’s SIGCHI(STC’s Usability SIG(Usability Professionals’ Association(UPA) (
  • 26. © 1995-2002 Andrea L. Ames26Contacting Andrea andFinding This Presentation Onlinee-mail:phone: 408.463.3793web: