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Part VI: Software Usability > Consistency and Conventions

Chapter 34. Consistency and Conventions

We are surrounded by user interfaces. The term may have gained currency through computer software, but every system and every piece of equipment that has users by definition has a user interface. As psychologist and former Apple Fellow Donald Norman has shown us (Norman 1988), we can learn a great deal about how to design and build better user interfaces for software simply by looking around us, by thinking about how the controls of common appliances, utensils, and tools make it easier or more difficult for us to use them.

Think about the last time you rented a car or borrowed one from somebody. Probably it was a different make or model from the one you usually drive. You slipped into the driver's seat, buckled up, and checked the mirrors. Then you drove off. The question is, how many seconds did it take for you to learn the user interface of this system? Did you attend a training workshop or view a video on how to use this particular car? Or were you able to figure it out on your own without having to read the manual?


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