Glossary » m
an approach to ergonomics that emphasizes a broad system view of design, examining organizational environments, culture, history, and work goals very broadly defined.Read more »
a help system provided on Unix and Linux systems. A user types “man ” on the command line and gets information on using that keyword, usually focused on syntax and parameters for Unix commands, and unfortunately, often lacking good examples…Read more »
1. (computer graphics) the dotted-line that appears around drawings when they are selected in drawing programs. When animated, a marquee is often referred to as the “marching ants”.
2. (graphic design) a hilited area, usually the focal point of a…Read more »
a box in the title bar of a window that, when pressed, toggles a window’s size between a user-selected size and the entire screen size. Compare this to the zoom box used in Mac OS which is similar but does…Read more »
multiple document interface; an application that consists of one primary application window (the parent window) that contains all the other windows of the application (child windows). The other windows cannot be dragged outside of the main window. This can be…Read more »
the field that examines the design and development of computers and software for medicine.Read more »
mechanical keys that are covered by a membrane to give them a flat surface and keep them clean, used especially in industrial devices.Read more »
when the user is required to remember an item from a previous page to compare it to something on the present page, just the opposite of physical integration. Better designs will make it easier for the user to compare items…Read more »
(website navigation) a representation in a person’s mind of the structure of a website, which is likely to be incomplete and simplified. A mental map helps people simplify the job of remembering what they’ve seen to the problem of remembering…Read more »
Humans establish mental models of how things work, or how they would behave in a particular situation. For example, having been a student at a university for a while, a student can establish a “mental model” of attending a university.…Read more »
a set of options to choose from, often presented as a text list, but also sometimes as a set of pictures, audio menus (for instance, in a voice-answering system), or a set of animations or video.
Pulldown and dropdown menus…Read more »
a line used between menu items to help group related items, and thus permitting faster visual scanning to locate a menu item.Read more »
an interface consisting of a series of screens which are navigated by choosing options from lists, i.e. menus. (“Menu” is not used here to refer to pull-down menus, but to lists of options on the screen that lead to other…Read more »
a row of menu items. Each menu item is a text label (or sometimes an icon) such as “Edit”, which is the title of a dropdown menu, e.g. “Cut – Copy – Paste”. Menus are used for commands in graphical…Read more »
the degree to which a product is fit for its intended purpose, the degree to which it works correctly and is suitable for someone to purchase and use without serious risk. The term is directly about whether it is appropriate…Read more »
an analysis of an issue combining the results from multiple studies, especially a statistical technique for combining the statistical data from multiple experiments. The statistical method is especially useful when prior studies appear to give conflicting results or provide questionable…Read more »
the context of a game and its use and all the ways it gets played that are outside the model of interaction the gameplay is designed for.
This includes ways the game gets played, for instance, by people saving and…Read more »
the use of one idea or object to represent another; making an implicit comparison between concepts to provide insight into those concepts.
Metaphor is used widely in graphical user interfaces to help set users’ expectations and make the behavior of…Read more »
the impact of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes, which is roughly the number of possible connections (n(n-1)/2). Proposed by Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet.Read more »
T = A + B * SQRT(D/W)
T = time to move to a target
D = distance to target
W = width of target
A ~ -13 msec
B ~ 108 msec
Meyer’s Law is…Read more »
Model Human Processor. A simple cognitive architecture used as the basis of the GOMS family of user modeling techniques. This representation of human cognition consists of separate components for cognitive, motor, and perceptual processors (and associated buffers), as well as…Read more »
an approach to ergonomics that emphasizes the examination at a detailed level of the interface between person and machine as opposed to external factors.Read more »
a common operating system platform with a graphical user interface that comes in many flavors, such as Windows 3.0, 95, 98, NT, CE, and 2000.Read more »
the activity of moving the pointer across icons to uncover ToolTips or rollovers in order to figure out what the icons represent. Such designs require the user to actively decipher the interface, probing and testing the meaning of each interface…Read more »
a principle of design that advocates eliminating all unnecessary decoration, distraction, and redundancy. In task design, eliminate unnecessary steps and alternatives in order to achieve efficiency, reduce decision time, and reduce errors caused by following incorrect paths. Write concise, factual…Read more »
a box in the title bar of a window that, when pressed, causes the window to disappear, shrinking down to a button in the taskbar (in Microsoft Windows) or to an icon on the desktop in some systems. The button…Read more »
or scope creep; the tendency for a project to accumulate more and more required project goals as development proceeds, such as additional software features or sections of a website. Mission creep typically delays a project, runs it over budget, and…Read more »
any system whose reliable performance is crucial to the successful performance of the organization in which it is used, e.g. the phone system of a telemarketing organization would be considered mission-critical whereas an occasionally-used word processor might not be critical.…Read more »
an error of reasoning or inappropriate subgoals, such as making a bad choice or failing to think through the full implications of an action.Read more »
a condition in which an indicator must simultaneously display 2 values; common in property sheets, in property controls such as font style, when the property is shown for multiple selected objects with different property values (e.g. in a text selection,…Read more »
massively multiplayer role playing game; an online game with an essentially unlimited number of human players were each player takes on the role of a character in the game world.Read more »
physical limitations affecting walking and transportation. These impairments can be a factor when designing public terminals and kiosks, such as ATM machines, which can be inconvenient for wheelchair access. Technology can also be designed to assist with mobility problems by…Read more »
another term for prototypes, usually referring to low-fidelity prototypes, such as paper illustrations, screenshots, or simple configurations of screens with limited interaction.Read more »
a type of interface where the user moves between different states, or modes. In each mode, input from the user is interpreted in a different way. When a user is in a given mode, it’s a good idea to provide…Read more »
a type of slip where a user performs an action appropriate to one situation in another situation, common in software with multiple modes. Examples include drawing software, where a user tries to use one drawing tool as if it were…Read more »
(MVC) an architecture for software that separates the underlying application (model) from the user interface display (view) and input (controller).
MVC is generally implemented with callbacks – the underlying application registers with user interface widgets (in the view and controller)…Read more »
a type of interface where the user is free to perform any action in the interface and the interpretation of user input is the same at all times. That is, mouse clicks always have the same effect and keystrokes always…Read more »
a person who plays a gatekeeper role in group interactions. The moderator controls who has the floor and what messages and artifacts are shared with the group. The moderator may control who can enter into the group conversation (e.g. who…Read more »
same as qualifier key; a key on the keyboard that modifies the meaning of other keys that are used with it, such as shift, control, command, and alt.Read more »
every 18 months, the number of transistors that can be packed onto the same amount of silicon doubles. In effect, the speed of computer chips doubles, and the amount of memory doubles. Proposed by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel.Read more »
a method of text entry for those with severe motor impairments. A single working muscle can operate a switch to send a series of dots and dashes as a code for text input. This may be used to control a…Read more »
a standard set of user interface components and guidelines for applications running on an X-Windows environment, typically for Unix systems. Motif is defined by the Open Software Foundation (OSF).Read more »
a device that detects the motion of a user or an object, such as a motion detector used to detect an intruder or a device planted inside a toy to detect when it is moved. Not normally used to refer…Read more »
a loss or limitation of function in muscle control or movement or a limitation in mobility. This may include hands that are too large or small for a keyboard, shakiness, arthritis, paralysis, and limb loss, among other difficulties.
The wide…Read more »
an input device used to control the position of a pointer on the screen by detecting relative movement of the device. The typical design uses a ball in the bottom of the mouse that rolls as the mouse is moved…Read more »
the association of a button on a mouse with a specific functionality, such as the association of a specific tool with the left mouse button after that tool has been selected in a toolbar. Mice range in the number of…Read more »
a feature that allows the pointer position to be controlled with keyboard keys instead of the mouse, intended especially for people with motor disabilities who have difficulty using a mouse.Read more »
a device for the physically disabled that enables them to control input through a stick they control with their mouth.Read more »
multi-user dimension (or dungeon), a virtual reality, usually text-based, populated by many people, often used for chatting or playing games with other users.
Variations include a MOO (object-oriented MUD), MUCK (multi-user chat kingdom), and MUSH (multi-user shared hallucination). While some…Read more »
MDS; a statistical technique useful for understanding the structure of a domain, especially useful in early stages of design. People are asked to rate pairs of concepts for their similarity, then these similarities are fed into the statistical algorithm to…Read more »
a text entry field that has more than one line for entering information (the field may or may not have an associated scrollbar).Read more »
or m17n (m and n separated by 17 letters); the support in a product for multiple languages, especially support for other scripts, writing systems that don’t use the Roman alphabet supported in ASCII.Read more »
multimedia is typically used to refer to the use of any dynamic media: audio, video, or animation. When used in this sense, there are numerous issues in how people deal with motion, timing, change, and ephemerality.
Strictly speaking, multimedia refers…Read more »
interacting with a computer using more than one input or output channel at a time, usually suggesting drastically different input channels being used simultaneously, such as voice input combined with a mouse. The simplest, most common form of multimodal interaction…Read more »
describes any application designed to be used by more than one person or to coordinate the activities of multiple users, i.e. groupware.
Some common design issues in multi-user systems include:sharing – how information is shared and how sharing is
…Read more »
the extent to which a study, such as user testing, matches the real-world situation to which its results will be applied. This is an example of an external validity concern. This means matching the types of users being tested and…Read more »
a set of items where only one item can be selected at a time, such as a group of radio buttons. An example would be a menu with font sizes, where a given letter can only have one font size,…Read more »