Sequential vs. "free flowing" interaction

26 Feb 2004 - 3:51pm
10 years ago
4 replies
540 reads
Adrian Liem
2004

I'm new to this field so my language may not be quite up to par with
conventions, but hopefully this makes some sense and some of you may have
some advice for me.

I'm working on a school project with the task of designing an interface for
a digital frame where the user can directly insert a memory card into the
frame, and then complete all functions with a touch-screen interface. (My
instructor could very well be reading this list...if so, Hi, Paul!)

It is expected that typical users will be amateur photographers with
moderate computer skills, so they would probably want to be able to complete
some basic photo editing functions on the frame itself, but anything more
advanced than say adjusting brightness and contrast, they would probably do
with photo editing software on their computer. The frame itself could hold a
series of photographs, and users would be able to edit a slideshow feature
all just by using the interface of the frame (which is only 6 x 4").

What I'm debating right now is to what extent should I make the interaction
a sequence of steps vs. providing short-cuts to all potential functions in a
more "free-flowing" manner, for example with a horizontal menu tab at the
top of the interface. My thinking right now is that making it a set of
sequential steps for importing, editing images, and then editing the
slideshow will increase learnability for new users. But more experienced
users will benefit from increased efficiency by being able to jump from one
set of functions (e.g. image editing) to another (e.g. slideshow editing)
without the constraints of "steps".

At the same time, there are a limited number of tasks users would complete
given the device has very specific functions, so in this sense it could be
feasible to allow users to select one of these functions and then within
that follow specific steps (e.g. the user taps on the "Edit Images" tab on
the top horizontal menu and then proceeds through a sequence of steps).

Any suggestions are greatly welcome. Thanks.

Adrian

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Heller" <dave at interactiondesigners.com>
To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:15 AM
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re-ordering rows in a table.

> My suggestion as well would be a d-and-d suggestion, so long as your
> elements have obvious grabbers, and possibly a menu item on the portlet
bar
> called "move" ... This can "pop loose" the portlet making it more visibly
> obvious that the user can grab it and drag it. There should also be an
> indication of when the user released where the portlet would go.
>
> Yes, you can do intra-browser d-n-d in both IE and Netscape ... Even in
> Netscape 4 ... But the code is very different for the Netscape 4. IE 5+
and
> Netscape 7 you could probably do in a single code line.
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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Comments

26 Feb 2004 - 8:14pm
Bronwyn Boltwood
2004

On Thu, 26 Feb 2004 12:51:07 -0800, Adrian Liem wrote:
> What I'm debating right now is to what extent should I make the
> interaction a sequence of steps vs. providing short-cuts to all
> potential functions in a more "free-flowing" manner, for example with a
> horizontal menu tab at the top of the interface. My thinking right now
> is that making it a set of sequential steps for importing, editing
> images, and then editing the
> slideshow will increase learnability for new users. But more experienced
> users will benefit from increased efficiency by being able to jump from
> one set of functions (e.g. image editing) to another (e.g. slideshow
> editing) without the constraints of "steps".
>
> At the same time, there are a limited number of tasks users would
> complete given the device has very specific functions, so in this sense
> it could be feasible to allow users to select one of these functions and
> then within that follow specific steps (e.g. the user taps on the "Edit
> Images" tab on the top horizontal menu and then proceeds through a
> sequence of steps).
>
> Any suggestions are greatly welcome. Thanks.

I'm not a professional myself, but what I would do is to make myself an outline
of the sequence of steps, and design how I would guide the user through it (with
as few assumptions as possible about what's already done), and then display that
map to the user, and allow them to move about in it at will.
-advanced users can jump from task to task.
-beginners are guided through the sequence of tasks.
-individual, complex tasks can still be guided for those who have the general
hang of it, but still need some guiderails.
-the map of the process is visible, so that users better understand what things
they can do, and the likely/suggested order of them, and how far they are
through the process.

How's that for a win-win solution?

Bronwyn Boltwood

27 Feb 2004 - 1:11pm
Jerry John
2004

hi adrian,

Well,I think when your working on designing applications or interactive
installations for kids - I would first checkout all the different devices
they are familiar with objects like gaming consoles, vending machines and
look at the what they are used to using (but this doesn’t mean that they
have got it right either) and then take it from there; and again you’ll have
to look into the way you information architect is – hey kids are really fast
learners so keeping active could also be something with which u can keep tem
coming for more :)

Jerry

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com]On Behalf Of Bronwyn Boltwood
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 5:14 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Sequential vs. "free flowing" interaction

On Thu, 26 Feb 2004 12:51:07 -0800, Adrian Liem wrote:
> What I'm debating right now is to what extent should I make the
> interaction a sequence of steps vs. providing short-cuts to all
> potential functions in a more "free-flowing" manner, for example with a
> horizontal menu tab at the top of the interface. My thinking right now
> is that making it a set of sequential steps for importing, editing
> images, and then editing the
> slideshow will increase learnability for new users. But more experienced
> users will benefit from increased efficiency by being able to jump from
> one set of functions (e.g. image editing) to another (e.g. slideshow
> editing) without the constraints of "steps".
>
> At the same time, there are a limited number of tasks users would
> complete given the device has very specific functions, so in this sense
> it could be feasible to allow users to select one of these functions and
> then within that follow specific steps (e.g. the user taps on the "Edit
> Images" tab on the top horizontal menu and then proceeds through a
> sequence of steps).
>
> Any suggestions are greatly welcome. Thanks.

I'm not a professional myself, but what I would do is to make myself an
outline
of the sequence of steps, and design how I would guide the user through it
(with
as few assumptions as possible about what's already done), and then display
that
map to the user, and allow them to move about in it at will.
-advanced users can jump from task to task.
-beginners are guided through the sequence of tasks.
-individual, complex tasks can still be guided for those who have the
general
hang of it, but still need some guiderails.
-the map of the process is visible, so that users better understand what
things
they can do, and the likely/suggested order of them, and how far they are
through the process.

How's that for a win-win solution?

Bronwyn Boltwood

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26 Feb 2004 - 3:51pm
Adrian Liem
2004

I'm new to this field so my language may not be quite up to par with
conventions, but hopefully this makes some sense and some of you may have
some advice for me.

I'm working on a school project with the task of designing an interface for
a digital frame where the user can directly insert a memory card into the
frame, and then complete all functions with a touch-screen interface. (My
instructor could very well be reading this list...if so, Hi, Paul!)

It is expected that typical users will be amateur photographers with
moderate computer skills, so they would probably want to be able to complete
some basic photo editing functions on the frame itself, but anything more
advanced than say adjusting brightness and contrast, they would probably do
with photo editing software on their computer. The frame itself could hold a
series of photographs, and users would be able to edit a slideshow feature
all just by using the interface of the frame (which is only 6 x 4").

What I'm debating right now is to what extent should I make the interaction
a sequence of steps vs. providing short-cuts to all potential functions in a
more "free-flowing" manner, for example with a horizontal menu tab at the
top of the interface. My thinking right now is that making it a set of
sequential steps for importing, editing images, and then editing the
slideshow will increase learnability for new users. But more experienced
users will benefit from increased efficiency by being able to jump from one
set of functions (e.g. image editing) to another (e.g. slideshow editing)
without the constraints of "steps".

At the same time, there are a limited number of tasks users would complete
given the device has very specific functions, so in this sense it could be
feasible to allow users to select one of these functions and then within
that follow specific steps (e.g. the user taps on the "Edit Images" tab on
the top horizontal menu and then proceeds through a sequence of steps).

Any suggestions are greatly welcome. Thanks.

Adrian

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Heller" <dave at interactiondesigners.com>
To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:15 AM
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re-ordering rows in a table.

> My suggestion as well would be a d-and-d suggestion, so long as your
> elements have obvious grabbers, and possibly a menu item on the portlet
bar
> called "move" ... This can "pop loose" the portlet making it more visibly
> obvious that the user can grab it and drag it. There should also be an
> indication of when the user released where the portlet would go.
>
> Yes, you can do intra-browser d-n-d in both IE and Netscape ... Even in
> Netscape 4 ... But the code is very different for the Netscape 4. IE 5+
and
> Netscape 7 you could probably do in a single code line.
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

27 Feb 2004 - 4:49pm
Christian Simon
2003

> Adrian Liem wrote:
> allow users to select one of these functions and then within
> that follow specific steps (e.g. the user taps on the "Edit Images" tab on
> the top horizontal menu and then proceeds through a sequence of steps).
>From your description of this photo frame interactive dilemma, this
"sequence of steps" sounds like modal interaction. Choose a task to perform
and follow a series of adjustments prescribed by the software. This type of
solution could benefit the novice user because they choose an outcome and
are assured the software will offer the right combination of decisions to
reach that goal.

For a complex goal oriented task this would be a reasonable choice. For a
subjective task, editing photographs or ordering slides, a user will
typically want to make corrections during the activity. A modal interaction
scheme would be unnaturally constrictive. Adding back buttons would hardly
compensate. A better solution would allow the user the freedom to learn the
interface. Who says a complex task has to be accomplished in the desktop
environment? Allow users to learn the interface and maybe an interactive
tutorial could be your answer. If the frame is large for displaying photos,
then it should be large enough to do complex activities, yes?

xtian

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