Tuesday, May 13, 2003

TEN THINGS TO EASE YOUR (COMPUTING) PAIN: I was discussing the foibles of creating user interfaces with advanced features with my good friend Steve the other day. I lamented that it seems like an excercise in futility when most computer users we encounter in our line of work don't even have the mastery of the basic Windows interface. Some items we came up with that annoy us to no end and would make the user population's life so much easier if they were understood are:

1. Buttons do not require double-clicking. Only icons do. 2. Icons live on the desktop and in the system tray. Everything else that's clickable is an button, even if it looks like an icon (as in a picture "icon" on a web page.) 3. The rows of buttons at the top of programs underneath the menubar are called toolbars. Toolbars contain buttons and (sometimes) selectors. They do NOT contain icons. 4. The rows of buttons near the start menu is called the Quick Launch toolbar. 5. The row of ICONS near the clock (lower right hand corner) is called the system tray. 6. "Click" means left-mouse button click unless otherwise specified. For example, if you are told to "right (mouse) click" and then click, the second click should be a left mouse click. 7. Right mouse clicking on an icon brings up a menu of choices that you can perform on the icon. 8. The default action -which is what occurs when you double click on an icon- for an icon is the option shown in bold when right mouse clicking on the icon. 9. The cursor can be moved from input field to input field with the tab key. This eases the annoyance of using the mouse to constantly reposition the cursor for each field. Shift-tabbing makes the cursor move backwards through input fields. 10. Most commonly used menu items and buttons have keyboard shortcuts. Learning them makes you work faster. Extra Credit. Clickable items in web pages NEVER require double clicking.

Note that most of these rules also apply to other operating systems such as Linux/Unix and MacOS.

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