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Glossary » Interaction Design

toggle key

a key on the keyboard that toggles between two modes. The most common is the CAPS LOCK key which causes all letters to appear as capitals when it is activated. Other common toggle keys include NUM LOCK (alternates between the…

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a small label that appears beside a button or tool if a user pauses over it, generally only a word or two. Similar in concept to balloon help, except that balloon help allows for a more extensive description and can…

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touch typing

a level of typing skill characterized by the lack of need to visually locate the letters on a keyboard. Touch typing represents skilled performance, but not necessarily expert performance.

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training wheels interface

a user interface that hides or disables advanced features to make it easier for novices to familiarize themselves with basic features. Users can then turn on the more advanced options when they’re ready.

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a feature for allowing users to continue typing without waiting for the computer to catch up. For instance, a word processor may not display every keystroke as it’s entered because of difficult screen formatting, but will catch up as soon…

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ubiquitous computing

computers everywhere: the idea that computers are getting smaller and cheaper, so they will be appearing everywhere in our lives and embedded in almost any kind of device. Thus, user interfaces will need to be extremely easy and inconspicuous.

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the facility for reversing the effects of any given operation.

Some common elaborations of undo include:

redo facilities – for bringing back the effects of an operation that was undone repeat – repeats an operation instead of undoing it multiple

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user-extensible systems

software that allows users to add functionality, usually by allowing the user some level of scripting capability, but also by allowing the user to add resources (extensions, fonts, images, etc). Unix shells often allow users to add commands by writing…

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vibratory feedback

feedback a user gets from a physical device that can vibrate, such as a pager indicating an incoming message or a joystick vibrating when a user pushes its value outside a safe operating range.

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a message to a user that lets a user know of potential dangers, such as the possibility of data loss if they continue an operation; a type of alert box that provides such a message. A typical example is the…

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wearable computers

portable computing devices attached to the body or integrated into the clothing of a user, such as computers in hats, eyeglasses, earrings, belts, pockets, shoes, armbands, and wristbands. Wearable computers allow a persistence of use not possible with desktop computers…

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WIMP interface

windows-icons-menus-pointer. A style of graphical user interface that uses these common widgets. A paradigm for human-computer interaction.

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working set

a small number of resources that a user switches between frequently, such as files users frequently edit or drawing tools they rapidly alternate between. The working set is identified so that the interface can support moving quickly between items in…

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zooming user interface

ZUI; a user interface where the user can zoom in and out to varying levels of detail. Also ZIP – zooming interface paradigm. The idea is that in a zoomed-out view, though the details can’t be made out, the user…

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