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Chapter One. Background > Tools That Do Not Facilitate Design Innovation

1-4. Tools That Do Not Facilitate Design Innovation

Creating fine interfaces can require undertaking intensive and expensive work. Interface-building tools, such as Visual Basic or Visual C++, are marketed as lowering development costs and speeding implementation. In spite of their utility, these tools will not be mentioned often in this book; they enshrine current paradigms and thus unduly limit the scope of what you can do. Similarly, the Macintosh or Windows interface guidelines and a portion of the heuristics presented by books on interface design occasionally give advice that is demonstrably incorrect—often due to the company's need to maintain compatibility with earlier versions of the interfaces and to the misperception that users will inevitably revolt if old, familiar interface methods are abandoned. Where real improvement can be achieved by making major changes, the interface designer must balance the legitimate use of familiar paradigms, which ease the learning process, against the enhanced usability that can be attained by abandoning them. In a situation of rapid turnover of personnel or the customer base, familiarity might be the better design choice. Where most of the users' time will be spent in routine operation of the product and where learning is only a small part of the picture, designing for productivity—even if that requires retraining—is often the correct decision.


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