Keep It Simple

The developer should value simplicity over power when designing a pen-based application. Simplicity is not only a characteristic of good interface design, it hastens the user's acceptance of a type of input paradigm apt to be new and unfamiliar.

The same principles for writing a standard Windows-based application apply equally to pen-based programs:

  • Limit features and options to reduce the number of choices a user must make. When adapting an existing application to run on a pen-based computer, remember the so-called "80/20" rule: 80 percent of an application's value is typically provided by only 20 percent of its features.

  • Keep the interface clear, consistent, uncomplicated, and predictable. The relationship between what a user does and how the application responds should be logical and consistent. Keeping the interface consistent and predictable reduces the amount of information the user must remember in order to use an application.

  • Make possible actions and results visible to the user. Enable the user to work directly with objects without resorting to abstractions. The user wants to "send mail" or "find a note," not "open an application" or "search for data."

  • Use constraints to prevent the user from choosing inappropriate actions and provide default choices whenever appropriate. Constraints encourage the user to make appropriate decisions by limiting unlikely choices. For example, a button enabling a user to save or pause a game should not be visible until play has started.

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