No announcement yet.

Designer Discussion - "Ergonomics and You"

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Designer Discussion - "Ergonomics and You"

    OK I have noticed that about 50% of user questions seem to pertain to some aspect of visual control so I thought I would open a discussion on the topic. My old carcass has been dragged through the mud of the visual control corral by an ornary bull or two and I have some insights to share.

    I guess the thrust of my point is that time has taught me that it isn't essential to try and control every single aspect of the user's view, but rather to make sure that your content is compelling.

    Full screen applications for example are in fact possibly less effective than standard ones, after all if full screen software was more effective wouldn't at least one major software company be deploying their stuff that way? (None do) It is actually much better to give your users standard windows which can be resized, minimized, and restored in the same old familiar way as the rest of their software. The less energy the user has to spend becoming familiar with how your project works, the more energy they put into parsing the content itself.

    Then there's the "But I want my video to take up the whole screen..." issue. Again, time has shown me that deploying content in the manner which is most familiar to the end user is usually the most effective method in terms of getting your message heard. In this case Media Player works well. And again, if full screen video presentations were more effective don't you think at least one major company would be deploying their video that way (None do. Apple, Macromedia, Adobe, etc. they all deploy their sales and training videos in a window or a standalone player)

    I could go on and on but the message is this. If you don't see any major league players doing things the way you planned, take a step back and examine their methods, you might find some good ideas. No one likes a control freak and users generally prefer that their familiar control methods stay intact, after all, don't you too? How do you like it when an application "takes over" your screen? Imagine a TV show which temporarily de-activates your remote control, do you think users might fixate on that and miss the point of the show?

    Besides, it takes about half the time to do things this way, and your work becomes more extensible since it isn't tied into some unorthodox deployment scheme... It's also a lot more fun and less stressful.

    Don't forget, as designers, we only have one goal, to communicate our core message to the end user. Any and all other details are completely irrelevant to what we do.

    Put it this way, if you get worried about details which your users don't notice, you're might be missing the forest for the trees...

    In my opinion it is no coincidence that all the major software and e-learning manufacturers on earth seem to use uncannily similar methods to deploy their stuff at any given time. Nothing wrong with emulating a genius, it's a great way to learn.

    And, at the end of the day, relax. If your content is compelling your audience will be riveted to their seats. besides, if it isn't compelling no amount of contextual presentation fandango is going to help anyhow...

    Corey Milner
    Creative Director, Indigo Rose Software

  • #2
    Re: Designer Discussion - "Ergonomics and You"

    Yes, it's a useful reminder - 'Content is King'.

    I've recently put a project together with full screen media player intro, flash components (mainly animated headers), all this for distributing a few pdf files...

    When I came to test, one machine didn't display the intro full screen anyway, one machine locked on the intro, another didn't have flash and I hadn't provided an alternative, in fact generally it was crap. [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/blush.gif[/img] The effects were in ' because I could do them' not because they gave the user anything. I must differentiate between trying out the 'wizzy bits' and what I give to the users.

    I must ask myself "am I just showing off ?"



    • #3
      Re: Designer Discussion - "Ergonomics and You"

      Roger that.

      Recently spent a large amount of time in an Flash intro (library scene, one book grows larger as it comes off the shelf, and opens revealing my chapter with title and subtitle....then dissolves to page one of CD) and after all that work (about the same amount as the entire rest of the project) realized it was an exercise for me (at the time, cool is that!! Oh, yeah!!) but didn't really add much to the main idea. So, I canned it and went for a clean opening with cool background music.

      I agree with the postings here. You can't cover up a lack of substance with glitz, smoke, and mirrors. I too look at what's out professionally and try to learn. I see a lot of macromedia created work in my discipline. And I gotta say, with the latest version of AMS, I'm thinking "I know how to do that."

      But I would say that most of the e-learning stuff I've seen are not using "thinking out of the box". The visuals, video clips, are using less than 320x240 quicktime. The use of mpeg1, etc. can blow this away. One has to balance video and other content, of course. But a wise use of selected video can underscore and enhance the main message. (And if it's video you're really after, make the move to add DVD to your work. That's where things are moving.)

      Corey, is right, with any project you must HAVE a message!

      From my point of view, designing projects with AMS has become a creative exercise that continues to grow. I want any of these projects to have a professionally designed look, ease of usability, no technical hangups, and something that the end user values. And, I might add, rivals what's out there.

      and btw, I've made a few things where the navigation, etc. was "sophisicated" (i.e., hidden and puzzle-like) and must be "explored" by the user, only to have my friends say, "Nice, but I could figure out how to use it!" (another learning moment...)

      Thanks for these postings. Personally, and on another point, I'm interested in "how" end users are actually using the CDs. For example, how do they affect learning? ARE they (the users) learning what the content presents? Exactly how do they approach a "learning CD"? How does it (can it) engage the user?

      Anyway, I digress....

      Thanks, again.