KDE User Interface Guidelines KDE Logo (2k)

Goal of this document

This document is intended to provide a place where KDE application designers/developers can review user interface design principles. It is intended to complement, not compete with, the interface standards.

Design principles are not the same as standards; I view standards as something that can be measured and enforced. I like to think that the standards would be motivated by the principles. The standards should be defined so that a given application can be reviewed against them to determine its degree of compliance. However, our goal here is not to provide measurable standards, but rather to encourage better design and improve usability.

Readers may notice that much of the writing here has been stolen from other websites. I'll make no apologies for that; after all, what point is there in reinventing the wheel? I've tried to ensure that, when I've stolen their work, the original authors were identified. I'd like to be informed of any omissions or errors so that I can set them straight.

Content summary

The articles aren't meant to be read in any particular order. If you are lazy, read the Summary article first. Some readers may disagree with the groupings I've chosen; if you can convince me I'm wrong I'll change them.

My favourites (in no particular order):

  • Fitts' Law - simple, clear, and easily applied.
  • Habituation - "The use of an interface should be an unconscious act."
  • Interaction History - get a memory.
  • Simplify User Tasks - make efficient use of the user's time.
  • The Anti-Mac Interface - flight of fancy. Seriously though, some good ideas.

If there are any other subjects that you would like to see articles on, please say so. I think an article on agents should be written. I may start it one day, but if anyone else wants to offer...

In the last section I've tried to apply some of the prinicples to existing KDE applications (ones that I use). With the impending arrival of KDE2 this section will probably have to be rewritten. Maybe someone else will feel inspired to analyse other KDE apps.



Layout and
Graphic Design:
   Fitts' Law
   Colour and Animation
   Layout and Presentation
   2D is better than 3D
   Web Page Design
   Program Classification

Task Design and
Human Performance:
   Simplify User Tasks
   Reduce Latency
   Noun-verb Ordering
   Interaction History

   The Anti-Mac Interface
   Writing Manuals
   Validation and Errors
   Tog's Principles
   Neilsen's Principles

KDE Analysis:

Contact Alistair: abayley@bigfoot.com
Last updated: 17-March-2000 09:50