Introduction | Web
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Imagine you have been
asked to design an application to let people organize, store,
and retrieve their email in a fast, efficient and enjoyable
way. What would you do? How would you start? Would you begin
by sketching out how the interface might look, work out how
the system architecture will be structured, or even just start
coding? Alternatively, would you start by asking users about
their current experiences of saving email, look at existing
email tools and, based on this, begin thinking about why,
what, and how you were going to design the application?
would begin by doing the latter. It is important to realize
that having a clear understanding of what, why, and how you
are going to design something, before writing any code, can
save enormous amounts of time and effort later on in the design
process. Ill thought out ideas, incompatible and unusable
designs can be ironed out while it is relatively easy and
painless to do. Once ideas are committed to code (which typically
takes considerable effort, time, and money), they become much
harder to throw away -and much more painful. Such preliminary
thinking through of ideas about user needs (User needs here
are the range of possible requirements, including user wants
and experiences) and what kinds of designs might be appropriate
is, however, a skill that needs to be learned. It is not something
that can be done overnight through following a checklist,
but requires practice in learning to identify, understand,
and examine the issuesjust like learning to write an
essay or to program. In this chapter we describe what is involved.
In particular, we focus on what it takes to understand and
conceptualize interaction. The main aims of this chapter are
- Explain what is meant
by the problem space.
- Explain how to conceptualize
- Describe what a conceptual
model is and explain the different kinds.
- Discuss the pros and
cons of using interface metaphors as conceptual models.
- Debate the pros and
cons of using realism versus abstraction at the interface.
- Outline the relationship
between conceptual design and physical design.