D.A.I.R.S. System Development Research - User Interface Ergonomics
Key to its design is DAIRS ultra-efficient, direct, consistent user interface.
The current trend today in user interface is to cater to the lowest common
denominator - the brand new user. This offers a quick learning curve at the cost of long term efficiency.
This approach may make sense for stand-alone, seldom used applications, but
not for a business' primary application.
The current body of research, our experience, and the experience of our users
clearly demonstrates that the interface should not be geared towards new users,
but should be optimized for the highest
possible efficiency and productivity with trained users. Only DAIRS provides its
ultra efficient, no-nonsense user interface that allows users to get more done in less time and with the
highest long-term productivity and satisfaction.
- 'In contrast [to an information kiosk application], consider a data entry system used daily by an office of heads-down operators. Here the
primary goal should be that the operators can input as much information as possible as efficiently as
possible. Once the users have learned how to use the interface, anything intended to make first-time
use easier will only get in the way.' from
Cornell's Common Front Group 'Concepts of User Interface Design' webpage 1995
Aircraft parts system users not only use the system daily in a fast paced environment,
but also often juggle two or more tasks at once, and must be able to access
a great deal of diverse information quickly to support intelligent decisions. We designed and wrote
the special DAIRS user interface for precisely this environment.
For those familiar with user interface design concepts, the DAIRS user interface was designed
from the ground up to be:
- Efficient - Optimized for the highest long term productivity and satisfaction.
- Consistent - User Interface operates consistently throughout the application.
- Function and task switching keys are always consistent and active from any point.
- Color Coded Context - Users can quickly identify data, prompts, or help, even on dense, information packed screens.
- Screen Layout - Users know where to look for the information they want, even on never before seen screens. Regions of the screen are consistent across all screens.
- Intuitive - Extreme consistency throughout the application lends itself to
intuitive, predictable use and operation.
- Prevention - Proactive Interface ensures users don't waste their time.
- Forgiveness - [F9] function key aborts and resets screen at any input.
Users can abort and back out and any time and therefore need not be bothered with redundant
"Are You Sure?" confirmations.
DAIRS does not employ the traditional drop down window menus or pop-up windows.
These often indiscriminately obscure portions of the screen and add overhead to the user interface.
When users must pop-down the pop-up windows they loose time.
DAIRS makes only limited, selective use of hierarchal menus. DAIRS uses the direct, hot-key approach to all but the most infrequently used functions.
Often graphical interfaces are added as afterthoughts to give aesthetic marketing appeal
to applications that have no graphic application. Common knowledge indicates
that, for non-graphical applications, the mouse is little more
than a gimmick or a progress impeding crutch for non-typists.
- 'On programs that allow an operation both by hotkeys and by a mouse, well-trained
users work faster if they use only the hotkeys (that is, the keyboard) when selecting menu items. Thus mice are surely not the
ultimate solution...' from 'THE INDISPENSABLE PC HARDWARE BOOK, Second Edition' Hans-Peter Messmer, 1995 Addison-Wesley Publishing.